My daughter's 17 and pretty smart.

Her Escape wouldn't turn over this morning, sounded like she just needed to jump it. She's never done it before, I'm at work, so I told her to get her friend and jump the car.

Red to red, or positive to positive...you know - basic directions. She's seen it done before. She just called me and said that it sparked "A TON" and melted the jumper cables. I have to look at it when I get home but I'm HOPING it was just incorrect charging connection and the only damage will be the melted cables.


I'm a basic DIY but not a mechanic. HELP! I need to know what to do when I get home.

I'll try to jump it and if that doesn't work, what next?

Might that have damaged something else in her car? :-(

1 Answer 1


The outcome of the jump-start folly can only be seen when you get home. It may or may not have caused further issues. What you need to do is to attach jumper cables to it correctly and see if it will allow the vehicle to start. Once it presumably starts, you'll need to check to see if there are any dash lights which stay on, most notably for the alternator (probably just the check engine light - CEL - would be on). If the CEL is illuminated, you'll need to check the output of the alternator. You're looking for ~14vdc at the battery with the engine running. If you get much lower than that, you'll know the alternator isn't charging. In that case you can plan on buying a new one. Beyond that, there may have been some fuses which require some attention.

If you don't get a CEL and everything appears normal after the jump-start, you should be just fine. I've seen jump-start attempts gone wrong before ... most of them have caused no damage. More than likely this will be the same here. Set your daughter up for some remedial jump-start training and all should be good.

  • 1
    Hey @Paulster2...thank you so much. This was my initial thought, but it's always good to get a second opinion. This was a very 'tame' situation for my daughter because she was safe at home, and had alternate transportation for the immediate need. It could have been much worse, and that lesson will be as important as the "remedial jump-start training" you suggested...and a great suggestion it is. She's seen me do it before, but a "HANDS-ON" experience is a much longer-lasting one! I have never seen cables MELT before, so this should be interesting. Thank you again!
    – Mary Wax
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:53

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