If in doubt, call the breakdown service

DEKRA Info January/February 2018

car battery

When the battery packs up:

Sitting in your car in the freezing cold as you vainly attempt to start the car is fairly high up there as one of the least pleasant winter scenarios imaginable. The cause can usually be traced to the car battery level being too low or indeed empty. Classic signs are after engaging the starter the vehicle gives a faint flicker of life before giving up the ghost.

Drivers requesting a jump start from their fellow motorists not only need starter cables but also technical know-how. “It is important to connect like to like on the vehicle batteries, i.e. the plus pole to the plus pole and the minus pole to the minus pole,* explains DEKRA automotive expert Werner Kühnl. However, you also have to know in which sequence the poles need to be connected and when the engines have to be started. Even more difficult are cars whose batteries have been installed in virtually inaccessible places. “Usually there is one external plus pole in the engine compartment connected to the battery,” says the DEKRA expert. “A solid component on the body should be chosen as the minus pole, a large screw for example.” Nevertheless, the starter cable cannot just be fixed anywhere in the engine compartment. Those who don't know what they are doing should leave this up to the professionals. The risk of damaging a vehicle during jump starting should not be underestimated.

Pushing or towing the vehicle to start the engine is likewise not without its problems. "This only works on manual transmission vehicles - and there is the risk when attempting to start the car like this that unburnt petrol will enter into the catalytic converter and damage it during ignition," warns Kühnl.

When all is said and done, the DEKRA expert considers mobile start devices, which can start the car without the support of a second vehicle battery, as the best solution. "Of course, even better is to have the vehicle battery regularly checked in the garage."


Tilman Vögele-Ebering

Press officer Industrial


Phone +49.711.7861-2122

Fax +49.711.7861-742122

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