Edmunds Answers



  • zaken1 09/08/10 11:47 pm PST

    What you described sounds like the battery had become severely discharged; which would have made it impossible to jump start without first recharging the battery (unless someone was familiar with the proper procedure for dealing with this problem). The battery might have become discharged because the lights or some electrical accessory was left on. It could have come from an electrical short in the vehicle's wiring. Or it could have happened if the battery was defective. It also could have been caused by a bad alternator (Alternator diodes will be instantly destroyed if jumper cables are connected backwards (to the wrong terminals), for even a fraction of a second. The alternator diodes will also be destroyed if someone foolishly attempts to "test" the alternator by disconnecting the battery while the motor is running; in order to see whether the motor will continue running when the battery is not connected).

    So it would be important to see which of the above causes led to the battery becoming discharged; or the problem is likely to happen again soon. If an electrical component is defective; it will have to be replaced or repaired. The way to test these parts is to first fully charge the battery with a battery charger (on a normal 10 hour charge cycle). Then have the battery tested with a battery load tester (not just with a voltmeter). Many garages and stores that sell batteries have a load tester. If the battery fails the load test, it should be warrantied or a replacement battery purchased.

    If the battery passes the load test; run an alternator test by using a digital voltmeter to measure the voltage across the battery while the motor is idling with no electrical accessories running. There should be at least 13.5 volts across the battery when the motor idles (if there is less than 13.5 volts in this test; the alternator is bad). Then, with the motor still idling, turn the heater fan on to high speed, and turn the headlights on to high beam; and check the battery voltage again. It should still stay above 13.5 volts. If it drops below 13.0 volts in this test; the alternator is too weak to keep the battery charged in night driving. A bad alternator should be either warrantied or a replacement purchased.

    The next test is done to measure how much battery current is drawn with the motor not running, and all doors shut and all lights and electrical accessories turned off: Disconnect the positive (+) battery cable, and connect an ammeter with at least a 10 amp measuring capacity between the positive battery post and the cable that was removed from the post. The meter should not read more than 50 milliamps (.050 amps) current flow. If it reads significantly more than that; disconnect the heavy power cable from the alternator, and repeat the test. If disconnecting the alternator power wire brings the current flow down below 50ma; this means the alternator diodes are shorted. In this case; the alternator will have to be warrantied or a replacement purchased. If the current flow continues to be above the 50ma limit when the alternator power wire is disconnected; there is an electrical drain somewhere in the vehicle. The dealership should fix this under warranty.

    FYI; the way to successfully jump start a car with a discharged battery is to connect jumper cables from another vehicle, start the motor in the other vehicle, and let that vehicle's motor run (preferably without the headlights on) at a fast idle for at least 15 to 30 minutes. This will put a surface charge in your battery (unless your battery is defective). Then, without stopping the motor in the other vehicle, try to start the motor in your Kia. It should start after that. But a badly discharged battery will probably not become fully charged until your car is driven at 40 mph or more (preferably with no lights or fans running) for at least 1 hour; and probably more like 2 or 3 hours. If you start driving the Kia immediately after a jump start; if it stalls during the first half hour, it may not restart. Also for that reason; do not shut the motor off during the first half hour of driving; as it may not restart.

    The quality of jumper cables can make a big difference in their effectiveness. Most jumper cables have weak clamps, small diameter wire, and poor contact between the cable conductor and the clamps. A good set of jumper cables will probably cost $35 or more. That's why they're not that common. Sears sells some good jumper cables (and some cheaper ones that are not so good). NAPA also sells some good jumper cables.


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