July 11, 2017 at 9:05 AM

No matter how much reliability improves with modern vehicles, there is one component that can still let us down, and that’s the battery. In fact, the increased reliance on electronics in today’s cars and vans means that we often don’t get the warning that we used to get in days gone by that the battery is on its way out. More often, it is a case of it being fine one minute and dead the next.

Whether yours has suddenly let go in this way or you have done something embarrassing such as leaving your lights on all night, you are sooner or later going to need to give your van a jump-start to get you moving again.

First, some safety advice. Check the condition of your defective battery visually, and if it is cracked or frozen, walk away. You need a replacement. Put on some gloves if you have them, and be careful under the bonnet of the support vehicle, as things could be hot. OK, let’s begin. 

Setting up

Park the support vehicle nose to nose with your van, such that the distance between the batteries is kept to a minimum. Close means not touching, as you do not want them completing a circuit through the bodywork! Switch off the engine, open both bonnets, and identify the positive (red) and negative (black) terminals of both batteries.

Connect one end of the red jump lead to the positive terminal on the defective battery, then connect the other end to the positive terminal on the support battery. Next, connect one end of the black jump lead to the negative terminal of the support battery and the other end to a good earth on your van. A bracket or a metal bolt is ideal. 

It is important that you connect the cables in that order. Now, take a look and make sure that the jump leads are not fouling any moving parts, such as the fan, and you are ready to go.

Starting up

Start the engine on the support vehicle and let it run for a minute or two. Gently rev it to provide some extra current for the battery. Now, get in your van and try to start it. If you are unsuccessful, give it a minute or two and try again. 

If the van refuses to crank over at all, it is likely that something is not connecting, so switch off the support vehicle and check all connections. If one of them is warm, you have found your likely culprit.

When your van starts, let it run for a few minutes before switching off. 


With both engines switched off, disconnect the jump leads in the reverse order that you fitted them. That’s black on the van, black on the support vehicle, red on the support vehicle, red on the van. Be careful not to let any of the clips touch each other, and keep the red ones well away from the bodywork or you will get a nasty shock!

With the jump leads put away, start the van again and give it a good run. Of course, your next challenge is to find out why the battery was flat in the first place – if it is because it needs replacing, do so immediately, as while jump-starting is great for getting you moving again, it is not a long-term solution. 


Category: Blog