Is it safe to start a classic car?

Quick starting a car may not be something every car owner has had to do, but it is certainly a concept that most of us are familiar with – your car won’t start, so you’ll get another one that will connect the jump leads to your motor, start it up and voila, right?

Well, we read a story in the Telegraph Recently, that could make you reconsider grabbing the jump leads, especially if your car is classic.

A boy’s Aston Martin DB7 had a dead battery the day after a 200-mile race. Fortunately, he had a BMW 730i on hand to start the Aston. However, after connecting the jump leads to both batteries, and starting both cars, an almighty fire broke out.

So what went wrong?

After a frantic call to the RAC and a thorough assessment of the situation, it was revealed that the jump leads had been properly connected. But the problem was something else.

The aluminum cores in the cables couldn’t handle the amps generated by a modern alternator. And the Aston’s battery was too discharged to cope with the enormous load generated by the BMW, which had (rightly) detected a discharged battery and was firing the amps to charge it.

Both precious cars could have literally disappeared completely in smoke. Fortunately, both cars survived and were repairable, but it’s a story worth considering the next time your classic car has a dead battery.

Tips on how to start a classic car safely

  • Check the condition of the jump leads and both batteries for signs of rust, corrosion, or damage. If any of these are present, do not attempt a quick start as this could injure or damage one of the cars.
  • Connect everything without the cars starting and allow the battery to acclimate.
  • If you are trying to start an old, classic car, be very careful that you are dealing with the same wiring polarities, as many of them have positive grounds.
  • Run the car’s running engine and turn off after 10 minutes. Then unplug the cables and try to start the car with the poor battery to avoid overcharging it.
  • It is always worth checking a car’s voltage before trying to start, since the vehicle must be started with a battery of the same voltage.

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