Getting a jump-start: DPS provides car help

GVL / Emma Moulton

GVL / Emma Moulton

Rachel Cross

The Department of Public Safety at Grand Valley State University offers free jump-start services to students who get stranded when trying to go to their desired destinations.

Paul Weaver, traffic officer of the Grand Valley Police Department, said that the most common causes of cars not starting is because people leave headlights on or the car battery needs to be replaced. On the other hand, he added that there could be a variety of reasons for a car not starting, and it’s important that students get their cars looked at if they continue to have difficulties with starting their vehicles.

Weaver said GVPD carries small industrial portable jump packs that they have been using for 10 years.

“These portable jump packs are more convenient and easier than using cables,” Weaver said. “We have enough jump packs for every patrol vehicle.”

He added that these jump packs make it easier to jump-start student’s vehicles especially if there are cars surrounding it on all sides Overall, he said, calls for jumping vehicles remain fairly consistent throughout the year, but that sudden changes in weather can increase the amount of jump-start calls.

“Sudden cold snaps in weather, like going from 50 to 20 degrees in a day can cause difficulty in starting your car,” Weaver said, adding that before the winter season starts, students should have their vehicles checked. “Batteries generally have a three to four year lifespan. Going out to start your vehicle for 10 to 15 minutes when you don’t drive everyday offers the vehicle lubrication.”

If jump-starting the vehicle doesn’t work, DPS can recommend area shops and towing services that are local to the Allendale campus.

Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of GVPD, said there are two predictable factors when a car doesn’t start; a weak battery or other mechanical faults.

“We encourage students who are experiencing mechanical faults to take their cars in as soon as possible, otherwise students can find themselves stranded,” DeHaan said. “Preventative maintenance solves most issues.”

Joe Kargula, oil change technician at Performance Plus Oil Change on Lake Michigan Drive, said it is important for college students to know the appropriate steps in jumpstarting cars.

“First thing you want to do is make sure that your keys aren’t in the ignition,” Kargula said. “Then, you want to get your jumper cords and make sure that the black coding cord is connected to the negative terminal on both cars, and that the red coded cords are connected to the positive terminal. Then the good Samaritan helping out should start their car, let it run for a couple minutes and then have the person with car troubles to try and start it.”

To receive help jump-starting a car, contact DPS at 616-331-3255.
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