I was just having a think tonight, and thought I’d pass on some tips to the newer/younger drivers who may have just passed their tests, or still learning to drive or get used to their vehicles. These aren’t driver education tips on how to be a better driver. Just some tips to help keep you better prepared for driving on the road. I’ve been driving for over 15 years now, so I’ve come across most problems you encounter as a driver, and wanted to help pass on some knowledge to the young drivers to help make you better.
I’ll add to this as I think of them – I’ll try and add videos as I go along.
If you come across this article, and there’s anything you’d like to see as a suggestion. Please comment and I’ll write it if I have an opinion or thought on what I could suggest to help you.
If you’re ever silly (or daft enough) to drain your battery flat in your car and people offer to “bump” start your car. Here’s the procedure to do it. Please note, this is not the samp as “jump” starting your car. This procedure also only works on manual vehicles.
- Put the vehicle in 2nd gear, turn your ignition to “Live” (The click where all your dash lights come on)
- Dip your foot on the clutch and hold it
- Get the person to push you
- Once you get to sufficient speed (maybe 2 or 3 mph), you need to “dump” the clutch
- “Dumping” the clutch is immediately lifting your foot off the clutch (not slowly, IMMEDIATELY, think hot lava)
- If you have enough momentum your car should start and be running. “Bump Starting” using the inertia of the vehicle to start the compression cycle of the engine. By dumping the clutch you force the engine to turn over
- If it has started, then immediately push back down on the clutch again (to prevent stalling)
- Put your car into neutral and let the car idle for a few mins to charge the battery.
- Ideally it’s better taking the car for a 10-15 min drive to fully charge the battery
Here’s the order to correctly hook up Jump start cables if you are either helping some one jump start their vehicle. Or someone is jump starting yours. In the real world, this order isn’t generally followed exactly (some do, some don’t). Most people just generally hook up the cables and jump. This is the correct procedure however, and you SHOULD follow it, because it prevents explosions / sparking and it gives you an understanding of the correct procedure and why it’s safer.
- VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: THE CARS MUST NOT BE TOUCHING AT ANY POINT!
- Both cars should have Ignition switched off
- Both cars should be in Neutral
- Both cars should have Handbrakes applied
- Both cars should have no additional load running to maximise starting energy (Headlights, Wipers, etc)
- Here is the correct order for connecting Jump Start cables, as a note, you may see little sparks when connecting the cables. This isn’t bad, it’s a sign there’s an electrical connection, which is a good indicator that your getting a good connection the first time around which saves you rechecking everything if it fails and getting a good first start
- RED JUMPER on DEAD “Vehicle” Battery Terminal (Positive)
- RED JUMPER on DONOR “Vehicle” Battery Terminal (Positive)
- BLACK JUMPER on DONOR “Vehicle” Battery Terminal (Negative)
- BLACK JUMP on DEAD (EARTH) “Vehicle” – (Earth Point) – This needs to be somewhere metal on the car, the easiest point would be the engine mount, part of the chassis, or a bracket on the engine. Some cars have dedicated terminals near the battery specifically for jump starting (I think some manufacturers refer to them as Jump Assist Points). It is best to find an unpainted metal surface, these are normally good earths.
- Why not connect the Negative Terminal to the Battery?
- The reason why you do not connect it to the battery terminal is because Batteries release Hydrogen gas. If there is Gas vapour, and a spark is generated. Hydrogen Gas + Spark = BOOM (potentially).
- Additionally, if you connect up to the Battery, there is potential to cause an Electrical short, which can cause damage to your vehicle / donor vehicle and their ECU due to electrics being more complicated on modern vehicles
- Now that you understand the connection method. Here is the starting procedure….
- First turn both ignitions to live
- Start the engine on the Donor vehicle
- This isn’t the exact step, but it’s what I do. I normally rev my engine and hold the revs at in the region of 2000-3000 rpm. The reason I do this is because jump starting, generally pulls more current from your vehicle. This really varies on the engine size of the vehicle. Diesel vehicles use more current, the same as bigger engines. You don’t have to do this, but it can help during the starting procedure
- Try and start the engine on the dead vehicle
- If the vehicle starts, great you’re done. You need to disconnect leads in the following order…
- BLACK from DEAD (Earth)
- BLACK from DONOR (Negative Terminal)
- RED from DONOR (Positive Terminal)
- RED from DEAD (Positive Terminal)
- Leave the engine running for 10-15 mins, switch it off again and try to start again. If the vehicle starts, then drive your car for about 10-15 mins to charge the battery. If the vehicle doesn’t start after this bit, then jump the car again. Next time it starts however, you will need to take the car for a drive. If the car is flat again when you have driven the vehicle, and the car won’t start. Then you have potential problems:
- Faulty battery (most likely)
- Faulty alternator
- Faulty earth strap
- If the vehicle doesn’t start. First switch off both vehicles, and recheck electrical connections
- After you check them, let the donor vehicle run for approximately 5-10 mins to give the car time to charge the battery. After this, attempt to start again
- If the car still doesn’t start then you either have a bad earth (most likely on DEAD vehicle) and you should recheck the connections, or bad cables, battery. There’s also a possibility that the donor vehicle can’t supply enough current for this or is just too weak to boost your vehicle (It’s easier to jump start a car if the Donor is a Diesel car).
- Recheck all again, if it’s still unsuccessful, you need recovering / towing home
JUMP STARTING MOTORBIKES
This shouldn’t be needed, but I just thought I’d mention it whilst we’re on the subject here. As some people may have friends who are motorbikers. Or find a stranded bike rider. In order to jump start a motorbike, do the following
- Ignitions off
- RED on BIKE Battery
- RED on CAR Battery
- BLACK on CAR Battery
- BLACK on BIKE Chassis/Frame
- Attempt to start the Motorbike
- DO NOT start the engine on the car. Realistically you shouldn’t need to even turn the ignition to live, since it’s a direct Battery to Battery transfer
Cars have a lot more power than motorbikes (Electrically speaking), so it’s relatively easy to jump start a motorbike because cars have more than enough power to start them. The reason why you do not start the donor car is because the batteries are 12V. When you start the car they become 14.4V – This will damage the Motorbike “Alternator”. Off-hand I can’t remember what it’s called (Energiser / Comparator perhaps). So starting a motorbike just needs a 12V source that’s it.
As for Motorbikes. You can also “Bump” start them. The procedure is the same. The bike rider holds in the clutch lever. Ignition on, you push them and they dump the clutch from 2nd gear. I won’t go too much into this procedure, because Motorbike riders are generally fairly experienced, so they will understand the procedure anyway. You never know however.
Surprisingly most modern cars now are fitted with a removable towing eye. Originally they were fitted with places you could hook your tow loop/tow bar onto. Manufacturers however decided to replace them with towing eyes. I’m guessing this was more down to aesthetics more than anything else.
Now, if you buy a car, make sure it has the towing eye with it! You DO NOT want to break down, and find out your car is missing a towing eye. Otherwise your day is going to get worse, because that “free” option where somebody was going to tow you. Has now turned into an option where you have to recover your vehicle another way. Most likely via a recovery loading truck.
So, if you buy a car. Pay attention to your vehicle and look at the towing spots. There will either be a hook under the car, or some form of removable panel on the FRONT/REAR bumps. Towing holes are usually quite low down on the car, and will either be on the left or right side of the vehicle. Once you have found it, pop the cover and inspect it. If you have the towing eye, make sure it fits. Screw it in (I’m talking from experience here, my car had one but it was the wrong one) and make sure it fits your vehicle. This will confirm that you have one in the event it’s needed. You will only have one towing hook (you’re either towing, or being the one towed)
The towing eye will normally be stored with your spare wheel / car breadown kit in the boot. It will either be in a side panel, or under the false floor in the boot. It looks like a screw with the eye from a sewing needle.
OK, towing a vehicle. If, for whatever reason your car can’t start. There’s a good chance you’re going to need to be towed. Now, here’s a few pointers when it comes to your vehicle being towed. Also, as an additional note, you are no longer allowed to use tow ropes, because the ropes can snap and provide improper tension. You either need to use a towing dolly, or a tension towing bar.
- Your car needs to be in Neutral (you don’t touch the gears when towed)
- Your handbrake needs to be off (some people forget this)
- If your engine won’t start, then your car will have NO VACUUM ASSIST. What is vacuum assist you ask?
- Vacuum Assist is where parts of the vacuum generated in the engine are sent to the brake servo on the car. This decreases braking force needed when braking the vehicle. Now. To put this in more simplier terms how does it affect you as a driver? – Without Vacuum Assist to your brakes when you’re being towed, your brakes will feel rock hard / impossible to push down. Do not panic, this is normal!
- Try pressing the brakes with no running engine – that’s basically what it feels like
- When you are being towed, it’s a very nervous experience. So don’t be surprised if someone asks you if you’ve ever been towed before. A lot of drivers are uncomfortable with it. If I had to tow someone I’d be asking them this question so I could run them through what was going to happen so they weren’t as shocked. The majority of vehicle braking will be done via the vehicle towing you. When you are being towed, just “aid” the driver in front by pressing the brakes when you see them braking. It will help slow the vehicles and support their vehicle with the demand
- Also going slowly is key. The person towing you will generally go a slower speed, because their vehicle weight has doubled, so they will be required to brake earlier, be smoother on the clutch etc. Not every person who tows you is good like this however, which is why some people get nervous. When you are towed, essentially you are victim and the person in front of you is in control. Which means if they put their foot down, chances are you’re going to move quicker. So you need someone you can trust to tow you.
- If you’re on a hill, then obviously you will need your handbrake to help support your vehicle weight to prevent it rolling backwards. Remember to take it off when the towing starts again ( SEE NOTES )
Notes regarding Hill towing. LUCKILY, I haven’t had to do this personally. It would be a good test of the towing persons ability to control the vehicles aswell. Personally speaking, even I wouldn’t want to do this, because it would be so irritating. So can only give a suggestion at this point.
Generally speaking, when you’re being towed people go the easiest / flattest route (which is normally by Motorways, etc). This would be best to communicate before towing as communication is key. If you do have to go up a hill for whatever reason. I would recommend the following….
- Talking to the driver on the phone when you’re releasing handbrake etc
- Visual communication (ie Thumbs up in rear mirror)
The reason you would need to do this, is because without enough Clutch control both vehicles would roll backwards. You have to remember Clutch Control only holds their vehicle weight. When towing there’s another 1300+kg they have to hold on the clutch as well. The person towing you would have to get their slip their clutch and add more revs onto their vehicle (probably 2500-3500). They would then need to give you a thumbs up to disengage your handbrake. They would then disengage theirs and add in revs to pull you both away.
It’s unlikely new drivers would have a 4×4 Vehicle, but if driving a 4X4 and the vehicle needs towing by a dolly or similar. All 4 wheels must be off the ground, or the driveshaft must be disconnected from the rear diff. A lot of recovery firms such as the RAC/AA have towing dollies, which lift up the Front Wheels only. This works for 2WD vehicles, but on 4WD all 4 wheels are driven at the same time. So either the entire vehicle needs recovering, or the driveshaft needs disconnecting so the rear wheels are free-rolling. If you don’t do this, it will destroy the transmission on the vehicle
Just an obvious one if here, but if your vehicle has an actual tyre. Make sure it’s the correct size to be fitted to your vehicle. One of my vehicles came with a tyre, but it turned on the day I had a puncture, it was a random one someone chucked in from a scrapyard….. annoying
Now, it is for this reason. I’d recommend carrying some form of puncture repair kit as a backup. If you’ve got the ability to repair a puncture at the road side, it will make it a redundancy measure if you have the wrong size spare
Your car, if it has a tyre, will most likely come with a “Space Saver”, these are normally limited to 50mph. The important factor is the size of the tyres.
EXAMPLE : A car tyre 205/55/R16 91 V is the following
- The tyre is 205mm wide
- Tyre tyre sidewall (the bit between the edge of wheel, the edge of the tyre is 55% of the width), so approx 110mm
- The tyre SIZE is 16″
- The tyre load rating is 91
- The tyre speed rating is V
The important thing to confirm with your tyre, is the SIZE of it. The other factors are not important (usually). The tyre size is however. The reason why this is important, is because a different size tyre will affect the rolling radius, and most likely damage the transmission of the vehicle. The tyres need to be matched up. As long as you have the correct size spare this is fine. Your spare may read something like 135/90/R16 102M – This is fine, because R16 matches the size of your factory tyre. If your spare tyre doesn’t match your factory tyre. DO NOT USE IT
That’s all for now, I will add more as I go