Booster Cable Assembly: How to Use Them Safely and Successfully

Your vehicle battery can die for several reasons, like low temperature. You must start your car to drive it to the mechanic’s shop. You may need a booster cable assembly to jump-start the battery.

What is a booster cable?

You can call a booster cable a jump lead or a jumper cable. 

This cable comprises a pair of insulated wires with alligator clips at both ends so it can interconnect the non-functioning equipment or vehicle to some auxiliary source. The auxiliary can be another vehicle, a piece of equipment with the same voltage system, or another battery. The alligator chips in the wires have proper insulation to avoid short circuits. These clips are either made of copper or steel, and these chips have polarity markings in black (-) and red (+) colors.

You will find one black and one red cable in a booster cable assembly. The colors help you to know where to attach the cables. In an electrical system, electric current flows from a negative terminal to a positive terminal through some wires to power something. In this case, they will power the car’s starter. Thus, to make your jumper cable work properly, you must connect the correct terminals. Always connect the red cable with the positive terminal and the black cable with the negative terminal. 

Remember not to touch the jumper cable to anything except the target.

Battery jumper cables

Battery jumper cables

Booster cable assembly considerations

When you choose a booster cable to work with your car, you should consider the following features.

Jumper cable gauge

Generally, jumper cables range from gauge 1 to gauge 12. According to this scale, Gauge 1 is a heavy-duty option, while the last one, i.e., gauge 12, is a light-duty option. 

As you know, thick cables carry more current; you can jump-start a battery faster with a thicker cable. According to the industry recommendations, you must use a 4-gauge jumper cable for a dead battery. However, to jump-start a drained battery in normal temperatures, you can use a 10-gauge cable.

Of course, most of the time, we choose the gauge according to vehicle types.

For cars, gauge 6 is enough, while for bikes, you can do with a gauge-10 wire as bikes do not need more power and a smaller gauge is also enough. If you have a full-size or diesel truck, it is better to take the gauge-4 wire. Apart from this, if you are handling something heavier than a truck with a couple of batteries, you can use gauge-1 or gauge-2.

Length

If two cars face each other, a 10 feet long cable is enough, but that is not always possible. So always go for longer lengths for higher flexibility. Remember, as the cable length increases, the gauge decreases as less charge flow through the longer lengths.

Insulation

When you use a jumper cable in cold climatic conditions, you need an adequately insulated set of jumper cables; otherwise, the cables will break when you take them out. In addition, insulation helps in preventing general wear and tear. If the cable gets damaged in any way, it results in an arc formation, which can lead to shock to you or your car.

Clip material

The auxiliary clips on the jumper cable act as a clamp to ensure a solid connection to the battery. 

In the copper plated clamps, the base metal is steel which is not a good conductor of electricity. In addition, these clamps start wearing off over time, making loose connections. On the other hand, even if the copper clamps scratch, it will continue working efficiently. 

Amperage

Starting a smaller car needs less amperage than starting a large truck or an SUV vehicle. Generally speaking, 200 amperes is enough to provide the necessary power. However, the industry recommends using not less than 400 amperes of cables. For some very heavy vehicles, you may need jumper cables with more than 600 amps.

Warranty

Always pick a jumper cable that covers a warranty and is UL certified. With such safety certificates, the company is there to help if anything goes wrong.

High-quality jumper cables

High-quality jumper cables

Safety tips for jumping start a car

  • Read your car’s manual and look for specific car batteries or jump-start instructions. Some manufacturers suggest not to jump-start your car, while some others give particular instructions to jump-start the car.
  • Look for the car battery. Most of the time, it is in the front portion, under the hood. However, in some car models, you may also find the battery in the trunk. If the battery’s location is in the trunk, find its designated terminals for use. 
  • Take note of the battery’s positive and negative terminals and ensure that you attach the jumper cables to the correct terminals to avoid accidents.
  • For the safer side, remove the keys from the car’s ignition (both cars if using the car for a jump start).
  • Make sure that nothing flammable is available near the battery. There are chances of sparks, fires, and explosions during jump start. The car batteries and portable jump devices have high voltages.
Jump start a car

Jump start a car

How To Jump Start a Car

There are two ways of jump-starting a dead battery: a portable jump battery or another vehicle.

Use jumper cables with another car.

  • Firstly, find out the location of the battery. Mostly, the battery is with the engine.
  • Secondly, park both cars close enough but without touching each other from anywhere; otherwise, the current will flow through different parts along with jumper cables.
  • Power off the engine of both cars. 
  • Note the battery’s positive (+) and negative (-) terminals and attach the jumper cable to the proper terminals.  First, connect one side of the red jumper cable to the non-working battery’s positive terminal. Secondly, connect the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the live car battery. Third, attach one end of the back jumper cable to the negative terminal of the working car’s battery. Finally, connect another end of the black cable to a piece of stationery metal on the car with the dead battery. Remember not to join this terminal to the negative terminal of the non-working car’s battery. Why? Some people consider it okay, but it increases the chances of fire and explosion if the jump start fails. You can connect that part to the engine bolt, car’s chassis, alternator bracket, or a grounding terminal. 
  • When you are done with all the connections, charging begins, and your vehicle may either start immediately or take some time. Give some time for the engine to work and let current flow from the working battery to the dead battery. After some time, try to start the car. Insert the key and turn it to start. Hold the key only for a few seconds and not more than that. You may need to do this several times.
  • If your jump-start does work well, the engine will start. Once you drive the car for some time, it will automatically recharge the battery. If you hear the engine cranking on turning the key, there may be another issue, and you may need to see the mechanic.
  • It would help if you disconnected the jumper cables when your dead battery starts working. Ensure not to touch the cables to anything before you make all disconnections; otherwise, the current can go to some unwanted locations. First, detach the black cable from the car’s chassis/bolt/terminal. Second, detach another end of the black jumper cable from the negative terminal of the working car’s battery. Third, detach the end of the red jumper cable from the working car’s battery’s positive terminal. Finally, disconnecting its other end from the car’s battery’s positive terminal requires a jump start.
Jump-start a car with another car

Jump-start a car with another car

Use a portable jump starter.

  • You can also use portable jump starters/jump boxes or battery packs to jump-start your car if another car is unavailable. As it is portable, you can keep it in the trunk, glove box, or any other place. However, most jump starters cannot bear very high summer temperatures. So, read the instructions before you carry one into your car.
  • Switch off the starter. Also, ensure that all auxiliary features of your dead vehicle are off.
  • The portable jump devices have two clamps attached permanently to the tool. These include one positive red clamp and another negative black clamp. Try to keep them away to avoid any sparking.
  • Next, connect the red jumper cable clamp to the dead battery’s positive terminal and the black clamp to the ground or car’s chassis.
  • When you have made proper connections, switch on the power of the jump starter. Try to start the vehicle by turning the key to start. Hold for a few seconds. If the car does not start, allow the battery to cool for a few seconds before you make another attempt. Now try again. If your jump-start is working, your engine must start, let it run for a few seconds, and it will charge the battery automatically.
  • Now, disconnect the jump starter cables. First, disconnect the negative black cable from the car and remove the red cable from the car’s battery terminal. 
  • If your engine does not turn over even after trying a couple of times, you may have another problem at hand; let an experienced mechanic take a look at your car and find the real reason. 
Jump start a car with portable jump starters

Jump start a car with portable jump starters

Choose jumper cables by vehicle type.

It doesn’t matter if you have enough knowledge about the jumper cables. The following can still help you get one.

Booster Cable Assembly: Compact

You can start a compact car with a 6-gauge jumper cable. So, if you have a Kia forte or Mazda 3, you will need a 10 feet gauge-6 cable that can give 200 amps of current. However, we suggest you still use a gauge-4 cable 20 feet long. Also, look for the cable that can provide 400 amps for safe and best results.

Booster Cable Assembly: Sports cars

For fast sports cars, a 4-gauge 10 feet cable won’t do the work. You will at least need a 2-gauge 20-foot-long jumper cable. Although 400 amps are okay for sports cars, it would be good to choose 600 amps. Also, pick the jumper cables having clamps of solid copper for a safe and secure connection. 

Booster Cable Assembly: Intermediate

For intermediate cars like Toyota Camry or Kia K5, you need a 6-gauge 10-feet jumper cable that provides 200 amps. However, to ensure uninterrupted performance, you must go for gauge 4, 20 feet jumper cable supplying 400 amps.

Booster Cable Assembly: Full-size

For full-size sedans, you need a minimum of gauge-6 10 feet jumper cable, which can supply a minimum of 200 amps of power. For maximum performance, choose a jumper cable that is 4-gauge 20-feet long. It will be much better if the cable can provide 800 amps of power.

Booster Cable Assembly: SUV/minivan:

For SUVs like Honda Passport, you need extra power to jump start. Choose at least a 4-gauge, 10 feet-long jumper cable supplying 400 amps of power. You can also take a 2-gauge, 20-feet long jumper cable with 800 amps of power for better results.

Van/Truck:

If you own a full-size van like Chevy Express, you need a 4-gauge, 10 feet-long jumper cable with 400amps power to get your ride back on the road. Further, a 2-gauge, 20-feet long jumper cable supplying 800 amps of power is more reliable, and such cables do not create any problem while jump-starting large vehicles of this size.

Battery Jumper Cable Assembly Product Details

Battery Jumper Cable Assembly Product Details

Conclusion

People usually do not keep their jump starters charged; however, it is essential. Otherwise, you will need another car to bring your car’s dead battery back to life. Nevertheless, you will surely need a pair of jumper cables in that case. Cloom suggests you get 4–6 gauge cables 20 feet or 6 meters long.

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