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Need A Boost?

By Mordechai Schmutter

Today’s article is about how to boost a car.

A lot of people are scared of boosting cars, because boosting cars is a multistep process, and if you don’t do it exactly right, you can get a severe electric shock and get run over by two cars. We personally don’t even understand why, when you hook up a working car to a non-working car, the non-working car will start and not vice versa. Why doesn’t the working car catch what the other car has?

But boosting a car is an important thing to know how to do. Sure, you can say, “Ah, my spouse knows how to do it.” But what if she’s not there?

We personally think boosting cars is one of those things they should teach in high school, like basic cooking, how to do taxes, how to buy a house or a car, and anything to do with banking.

How to Boost a Car with Minimal Injury, in Twenty-Five Easy Steps (Plus a Few Difficult Ones):

1. The most common way to boost a car is with a second car. So go to a car dealership and buy one. See if they’ll throw in free jumper cables.

2. Alternatively, you can buy a new battery. But do you do that every time the battery on your cell phone dies? On the other hand, with a cell phone, you don’t have to flag down someone with a working cell phone and hook it up to yours in the freezing cold via booster cables. And the average car battery weighs about as much as a frozen turkey, so good luck getting it home without a car.

3. Go back to the store and get some jumper cables. Ideally, you should have done this before your car stopped working. I probably should have put this in a previous week’s article.

4. You may already have jumper cables, though chances are you would know about them. Those things do not store easily. Jumper cables are one of the scariest things you own. They’re four clamps with teeth connected to each other by a thick wire, and if any of the clamps touch each other, the universe will explode. This probably won’t be a problem, though, because there are four clamps and you have two hands.

5. The next step is to flag down someone who has a car and is willing to face it the wrong way on the street just to save you from having to call a tow truck.

6. The good news is that he might have jumper cables, and chances are he’ll know how to use them. But even if he doesn’t, at least there will be two people involved, and you can put your heads together on it. Also, he’ll have extra hands to keep all the clamps apart.

7. If you have no friends, you can also get a AAA membership, and they’ll schlep out in their pajamas to help you. AAA is like that friend you have that will show up at any hour of the day or night, except that he knows how to use jumper cables.

8. Before you start the jumping process, turn the key in your ignition again, just in case the car changed its mind. Likely, this won’t happen. The car isn’t nearly in the same rush you’re in to get to work, just so it can sit around the lot with a bunch of other cars until you finally decide to come back out and sit in traffic. But you know how whenever you try to show someone something, it doesn’t work? The hope is that now that you’ve flagged down a friend and you try to show him that your car doesn’t work, it will suddenly spring to life and make you look like an idiot. But at least an idiot that’s going places. As soon as your friend moves his car.

9. Pull the working vehicle up to the one that won’t start. Not vice versa. This is pretty important to remember.

10. No, we don’t know why they don’t make those wires longer. In what situation is it ever convenient to put two cars that close together, nose to nose? Are you breaking down in the middle of a parking lot?

11. According to every instruction manual, “Make sure both cars are turned off.” If your dead car is not turned off, you might not have to boost it.

12. Untangle your jumper cables. These get tangled every chance they get, even though you never actually use them.

13. Open the hood of your car and locate your battery. In most cars, the hood will be the part that sticks out in front.

14. The battery should be underneath it somewhere. If you can’t find the battery, don’t panic. It may have just fallen out somewhere.

15. If you see a frozen turkey in there, call AAA.

16. Opening your hood is a two-step process. Possibly more. You actually have to do the first step from inside your car. This is a way of ensuring that no one uses your car to jumpstart theirs when you’re not around.

17. Go into your car and pull the little handle that has a picture of your hood on it.

18. Get out of your car and close your trunk, your gas tank, and anything else you may have opened while you were looking around for the handle, such as the garage.

19. Get out in front of your bumper and peer into the little crack between the hood and the car. There will be a little latch holding it shut. This is a safety precaution so that, if you accidentally hit the hood-release latch while driving and trying to adjust your seat, the hood doesn’t flap open and completely block your view.

20. Prop the hood open so it doesn’t slam shut on you, because your friend getting you out will be a two-step process. Possibly more.

21. Untangle your jumper cables again.

22. Now comes the tricky part: Between the working car and the dead car, you have two batteries, each with two terminals, and if you don’t attach the right clamps to the right terminals in exactly the right order, you will learn some pretty important life lessons. But don’t worry. Fewer than thousands of people die every year trying to start their cars.

23. According to most manuals we read, first you attach the red, or “positive,” cable to the “positive” battery terminal of the nonworking car, which is the safest car to start with, because it’s nonworking. Then, while saying Tehillim, attach the red cable to the positive terminal of the working car. Then, without tripping over the cable, attach the negative, or “black,” clamp to the negative terminal of the working car, and then attach the black cable to anything but the negative terminal of the nonworking car. You’re supposed to find something on your car that is metal and non-painted to attach it to instead, for grounding purposes, whatever that means. But according to the manuals, if you don’t do it this way, you’ll be in for a shock. So don’t be surprised.

24. Other manuals give other orders in which to do this, and they say that if you don’t do it their way, you’ll be in for a shock. So good luck.

25. Some people might have problems remembering which color cable is positive and which is negative. A good mnemonic device is that if you forget, you’ll blow up your car.

26. Another good way to remember is that negative is black because photo negatives are black. Except that photo negatives don’t really exist anymore. And black in a ledger is positive, as in “Black Friday,” and teachers mark wrong answers with a red pen. On the other hand, teachers mark everything with a red pen. I stopped carrying black a long time ago. On the other hand, red means stop. But only as compared to green.

27. Another possible mnemonic device is that most batteries have red coloring near the positive terminal and black near the negative. But don’t hold us to that.

28. Have your friend turn on the working car while you stand a safe distance away. Using a cell phone, tell him to leave his car on for a few minutes, and also have him make “vroom vroom” noises with his gas pedal, as well as with his mouth. Make sure his car is in park.

29. After a few minutes, your car should start. If it doesn’t work, there’s either something wrong with your car, or there’s something wrong with this article. Your guess is as good as ours. Tow the car to the mechanic and have him take a look at it. For all you know, the problem might not even be the battery. You may have a flat tire.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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Posted by on December 24, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.