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Jumper Cables

Question one. What is the proper way to jump a car with jumper cables? Question two. Are Michelin Smart Jumper Cables worth it?

Jump starting a car is one of those things that if you aren?t confident in doing it right you should probably not do it.

A basic but reasonable introduction to jump starting a car can be found at:

Personally, I think the Smart Cables are a lot of money and only 8 gauge wire. With the above caution in mind, I would use the extra money to buy at least 4 gauge or better 2 gauge and BE CAREFUL.

The proper instructions specific for your car are generally found in the owner’s manual. Some cars have batteries not as easy to access as those in the video. These cars generally have jumper lugs or points to use in an accessible spot.

As far as the Smart Cables, I’m in complete agreement with MTraveler. I’ve seen a lot of cheap cables get very hot trying to jump a car, hot enough to melt the insulation. This is due to cables being too small.

I looked up those smart jumper cables, and they look like a light duty but foolproof design. I would suggest skipping jumper cables altogether and get a jump starter box. Some of those have built in reverse polarity alarms, so you can still get it right if you are colorblind or simply cannot match up the “+” and “-” symbols. They are cheap now and you can pick up a decent one for $40-60. Another good idea is to either join AAA or pay a few dollars extra for roadside assistance through your insurance company. Either can get you out of a jam even beyond a dead battery.

In this day and age, jumper cables have sort of become obsolete. Not the devices themselves, as they still work and are very practical, but what is obsolete, sad to say, is the idea of relying on the kindness and trust of a stranger and their car to help you out of a bind. These “smart” jumper cables still require a second, donor vehicle to jump start your car, meaning you have to find someone kind enough and trusting enough to hook up their car to yours without either of you accusing the other of damaging your car, or without worrying about commissioning the help of some creep or serial killer who may want to do harm or desire “something in return” for their help. The liability issue these days makes me leery about offering someone any kind of help with their car, especially a jump start. I generally rely on my own good judgment, and so far it hasn’t failed me yet, but there’s always the concern.

1: Carefully. If you connect the cables incorrectly, even briefly, you can fry a lot of expensive electronics.

2: Not to me. Give me a really good, heavy gauge set of regular jumpers and I’m happy.

I haven’t used jumper cables in many years because I replace the batteries in my cars before they die.

Jumping a car is sort of a last resort. If you’re planning to do it on a regular basis I believe you should rethink your priorities.

I keep a set of jumpers in my car not for me, but you never know when you might run into someone in a parking lot that needs a jump and doesn’t have a set with them.

  • to +
  • to -
  • to +
  • to Engine ground.

A good spark over a hydrogen cloud on the dead battery makes bad things happen. It doesn’t happen often, but only has to happen once to ruin your day and leave you with permanent scars.

Even saying they are 8-gauge is misleading. According to this web site (a Google result), “These 12? long cables are 8-gauge copper-clad aluminum wires”

Small diameter aluminum wire; maybe disimilar metal voltage drops where they attach to the clamps (do you remember the excitement of Cu-clad Al house wiring?); maybe more voltage drops from the polarity-safing electronics – lots of energy loss there. They will probably work to dribble some charge into the dead battery, but slowly.

HOWEVER, as others have said, with all the electronics in cars these days, crossing the jump-start polarity can be a very expensive mistake. If you are not fully confident that you know what you are doing, you might like them.

Excellent point about them being copper clad aluminum wires. This little trick makes them more affordable, but also cheap, in a bad way. That will make them marginally more effective than those so-called easy jump starters that are supposed to “jump-start” the battery through the cigar lighter receptacle: plug in, go to bed, try the key in the morning, when your battery may be sufficiently charged to start the vehicle.