I accidentally hooked the wrong battery cable to the wrong side on the battery. There was a puff of ozone-smelling smoke. I switched the cables and now it will do nothing. Did I fry something important? This is on a 1984 Fleetwood Southwind motorhome with a 454 engine. In my defense, both ends were red...just the way I bought it. OOPS!
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Good question, because connecting it the wrong way can damage the starter, the battery, or both! The red cable connector clamps to the positive terminal, and the black cable clamps to the negative terminal. On a new battery, it is often easy to tell which is positive by their markings (+) = positive and (-) is negative. In reality, the markings may be difficult to see. The red or positive post is larger in diameter. The black or negative post is a ground so you can follow it from the post to somewhere solid on the metal frame of the car.
Note the cross on the top of the battery post.
According to In.answers.yahoo.com :
"...the battery case will have a + near the positive or a - near the negative terminal. If these don't exist then the positive post will have a larger diameter post than the ground post, this is if the battery is a top post.
If it's a side terminal battery which GM cars used for a while it should be marked on the top of the battery or on the front with its respective sign. Otherwise you can look at the cable that's connected to it which are usually color coded. Red is positive and black is negative."
IF STARTER RELAY BAD THE STARTER WONT MAKE NO NOISE AT ALL HEADLIGHTS WONT DIM.IF YOU CLICKING NOISE BATTERY VOLTAGE TOO LOW. MAKE SURE BATTERY VOLTS ARE 12.6 VOLTS AND USE TEST LIGHT TO SEE IF STARTER GETTING POWER.COULD HAVE BLOWED IGNITION FUSE OR FAULTY IGNITION SWITCH. TO CHECK STARTER SOLENOID FIRST TURN OFF RADIO THEN REMOVE NEGATIVE BATTERY CABLE AND POSITIVE BATTERY CABLE.THEN REMOVE STARTER BUY A REMOTE SWITCH.YOU NEED BATTERY JUMPER CABLES HOOK BATTERY JUMPER CABLES TO BATTERY PUT POSITIVE CABLE ON POSITIVE BATTERY POST THEN PUT NEGATIVE BATTERY CABLE ON NEGATIVE POST. HOOK BATTERY CABLES TO STARTER USE NEGATIVE CABLE GROUND STARTER BODY AND PUT POSITIVE BATTERY CABLE ON THE LARGE POSITIVE POST ON STARTER SOLENOID. NOW TAKE REMOTE SWITCH HOOK RED WIRE TO STARTER SOLENOID POSITIVE POST THEN HOOK BLACK WIRE TO REMOTE SWITCH TO STARTER SOLENOID SWITCH TERMINAL WITH LETTER S THEN PRESS REMOTE IF STARTER SPINS STRONG WITH A GOOD KICK STARTER GOOD.YOUR PROBLEM COULD BE CORRODED WORN BATTERY CABLES. WEAK BATTERY FAULTY IGNITION SWITCH. IF STARTER DONT WORK WHEN YOU PRESS THE REMOTE SWITCH STARTER SOLNOID BAD OR STARTER ITSELF BAD.IF ALL IS GOOD. CODE SCAN CAR FOR THEFT SECURITY FAULT CODE.
sounds like you are on the right track. Hook the jumper cables up to the dead car first. The red cable should go to the jumper terminal as you mentioned and a good place to hook up the black cable is the bolts on the strut tower.
then with the other car running hook up the red lead to the cars positive battery cable and then the negative to a good ground. Let the two cars sit for about 5 to ten minutes to give the dead battery a chance to charge.
Once the dead car is started let it idle with the lights turned off for at least 45 minute to an hour or drive it for the same amount of time with the light on (I assume you will be driving in the dark) or if its day time drive it for 30 to 40 minutes with the lights off. This should be enough time for the alternator to charge the dead battery.
Use a wrench to remove the negative and positive battery cables: They are clearly labeled "+" and "-." Always remove the negative cable first, as this isolates the power to the metal parts of your car. Tuck the cables away from the battery as you don't want them to accidentally touch a battery terminal when you're wiring your alternator.
Locate the alternator terminals. There are two: one marked "live," "pos" or "+" and the other marked "neg," "field" or "-."
Locate the two cables. The positive (red) cable goes to your battery via a wire loom or harness. The negative (black) cable attaches to a metal part of your car.
Check how the cables attach to the alternator terminals. Some connect using eyelets that hook over the terminal and tighten with a bolt; others connect by inserting the wire under the terminal and tightening a bolt.
Loosen the two bolts using a suitable-sized wrench or, if the cables connect using eyelets, remove the bolts.
Insert the exposed end of the negative (black) cable under the loosened bolt on the negative terminal of the alternator, then tighten the bolt. If the cable has an eyelet, hook it over the terminal and screw the bolt back in place and tighten using a wrench.
Insert the exposed end of the positive (red) cable under the loosened bolt on the positive terminal of the alternator, then tighten the bolt. If the cable has an eyelet, hook it over the terminal and screw the bolt back in place and tighten using a wrench.
Replace the positive battery cable on the positive battery terminal using a wrench. Replace the negative battery cable on the negative battery terminal.
Disconnect negative side of battery first (to avoid accidental touching of wrench to ground - although battery may be dead) then positive side. There should be a rubber wedge at the bottom of the battery with a bolt going through the center. This will need to be removed so the battery can be lifted out. Reinstall in the reverse order - being sure to put the ground cable (negative) side of the battery on last for the reason previously mentioned. The positive of the battery will be marked with a + the negative side with a - Also the positive cable should be red and the negative black. This may not apply if some one put the wrong cables in place so be sure, before removing cables, to observe their orientation.
It should have a + sign on it. Or, if it's in the car already, it will have a + sign, and the red cable will be hooked to it. The negative runs to the engine block, and the positive to the starter, or relay. Both are marked with a + or - sign molded into the battery body.
First, check battery post to cable connection: positive meter lead on battery positive post, negaitve lead on battery's positive cable clamp. Crank the engine and note the reading. A good connection should have zero voltage drop. Second, check the positive cable: positve meter lead on positive battery clamp, negative lead on starter terminal connector. A good cable will show a voltage drop of .2 volts or less while cranking. Third, check the starter connection: positive meter lead on positive battery terminal on the solenoid, negative meter lead on actual starter stud. A good connection will have a voltage drop of near zero volts. Now to check the negative side of the circuit. Total drop on the ground side should be .3 volts or less and can be checked by placing positive meter lead on starter housing and negative meter lead on battery ground post. Take your reading while cranking the engine, and be sure your connection at the starter is solid and clean. If total voltage drop on this side of the circuit is excessive, complete testing at all connections in the same fashion as the positive side of the circuit. Check the following: between battery post and clamp (zero voltage drop), cable end at battery to cable end at engine. (.2 volts or less), cable end at engine to engine itself (near zero voltage drop), and finally between starter housing and engine block (.1 volts or less).