Even the best maintained fleet vehicles can experience problems now and then. For example, cold weather really does a number on car batteries. In winter, it’s not uncommon for the battery to fail — which can leave your drivers stranded on the side of the road.

Now is a good time to remind your drivers how to safely jump-start their vehicle in the event they need to do so. Here is some advice to eliminate any hazards while performing the task:

  • Always keep jumper cables in your vehicle.
  • If your battery dies, and you plan to jump start it, make sure your vehicle is in a safe area, away from any oncoming traffic.
  • If you’re stuck on the side of the road, make sure to use flares as an added precaution
  • Park your disabled vehicle approximately 18 inches apart from the vehicle with a good-working battery.
  • Prepare both vehicles as follows: Put the gear shift in park; set the parking brake; turn off all electrical (i.e., fan, radio, lights, etc.); unplug any chargers; remove keys from ignition.
  • Get your cables stretched out and ready. The red cables are to be used on positive terminals; the black cables on negative terminals.
  • Locate the battery in each vehicle, remove battery covers, and identify the negative and positive terminals.
  • Begin the process with the disabled vehicle. Connect the red positive clamp and attach it to the positive terminal on the bad battery.
  • Next, attach the other end to the positive terminal on the good battery.
  • Now, connect the black negative clamp and attach it to the negative terminal on the good battery.
  • This leaves just the negative clamp to be attached to the disabled vehicle. However, do NOT put the clamp on the negative terminal of the bad battery because it can be dangerous to do so. There can be sparks, and even a small risk of fire.
  • Instead, connect the negative clamp to a piece of bare, unpainted metal somewhere under the hood of the vehicle. It can be a bolt, for example. But make sure the location you choose is not near any moving parts like fans or belts.
  • Once you’ve done this, your connection is completed.
  • Get in the vehicle with the good battery, start it up and let it run for several minutes.
  • Next, get in the disabled vehicle and start it up.
  • Remove jumper cables in the reverse order that you put them on.
About the author
Marianne Matthews

Marianne Matthews


Marianne Matthews contributes safety news and articles for the Fleet Safety newsletter. She is an experienced trade editor.

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