Exploding Car Battery
Bertho Boman

Car-Battery After cleaning off the acid

Battery Plates
The Connection Tabs of the Plates

The Negative Battery Terminal

Battery Safety
A car battery contains sulfuric acid and anyone standing close by when a battery explodes will be showered by the acid and the flying pieces of the shattered battery housing. Very serious acid burns and blindness is a likely result.

The common reason for battery explosions are improper jump starting of cars with dead batteries. Another reason can be flames or sparks near the battery vents.
In my case, the battery and the car were operating normally and in good condition. One day I got into the car, closed the door and turned on the ignition and there was an ear shattering explosion inside the car. I checked all the windows since I thought someone had fired a shot or that the explosion had been at a window. They were all fine and I then smelled the acid and I realized that the battery had exploded.
In my car, the battery is located under the rear seat so that is why the explosion was inside the car. Happily the rear seat and the battery compartment contained the flying pieces and the acid.
It was a nasty job to clear out all the debris and soaking up the acid and neutralizing it but luckily there was no permanent damage. Just imaging if this was a battery being jump started with a person standing next to it.

Since the battery was not being jump started and the attached cables were tightly making contact, it is extremely unusual for this to happen. After examining the pieces, it appears that the internal negative connection to the plates was poor by a manufacturing defect and when the rather high starter motor current flowed, the connection failed and there was a spark inside the battery that triggered the explosion.

Jump Starting
The key thing to remember is that when the jumper cables are attached, there will always be sparks when the last connection is made. It is those sparks that can ignite the hydrogen gas in the battery and cause the explosion. That is why it is important to connect the cables in the correct order.

It is always recommended and desired to, if possible, wear safety eyeglass protection and rubber gloves. Connect the jumper cables in this order:

1. Attach one end of the red cable to the dead battery's positive terminal.

2. Attach the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the battery in the starting vehicle.

3. Attach one end of the black cable to the negative terminal of the battery in the starting vehicle.

4. Make sure the clamps make good contact by wiggling them and inspecting the connections.

5. Attach the other end of the black cable to the engine block of the car with the dead battery. Look for an unpainted metal surface and make sure the cable will clear anything moving when the car starts.

6. Do not attach the negative cable to the dead battery since it will spark!

7. Let the booster car run for several minutes at slightly higher RPM than idling to charge the dead battery a little bit before trying to start the car.

8. Remove the cables in the reverse order that they were put on: First disconnect the cable from the engine block and so on.

Bertho Boman
Vinland Corporation
11600 NW 20th Street
Fort Lauderdale
FL 33323
(954) 475-9093
Email: boman01 at vinland dot com