Everything You Need to Know About Jumper Cables
Jumper cables are indispensable tools in any emergency situation where a car needs to be jump-started. Also known as “jumping leads”, jumper cables are composed of two lengths of insulated cable, six-gauge or larger, connected to clamps of opposite polarity. The clamps are secured onto the battery of a dead car, and then the other clamp to the battery of a functioning car. This completes an electrical circuit, allowing the two cars to act as if they were one, joining their batteries and allowing the dead car to receive a jump-start.
Jumper cables are available in a variety of lengths and colors and it is important to purchase quality cables to ensure a reliable connection. The colors vary from red to black and measure anywhere from 10 to 25 feet long. Longer cables are better for connecting two cars in difficult positions, while shorter cables are less likely to become tangled.
It is important to know that using jumper cables can be potentially dangerous. Improperly connecting the cables can result in sparks and possible explosion. It is always best to have an experienced person handle the job. Additionally, wearing heavy gloves while handling the cable clamps can protect the user from electrical shock.
Before connecting the cables, make sure to closely follow these steps:
- Turn off both cars, making sure no additional power source, such as the car radio, is running.
- Attach one of the black clamps to the negative terminal of the dead battery.
- Attach the other black clamp to the negative terminal of the functioning car, which is typically marked with a “-” as an indicator.
- Attach one of the red clamps to the positive terminal of the functioning car, typically marked with a “+” as an indicator.
- Attach the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the dead car.
- Start the engine of the functioning car and look for a spark.
- Let the dead car charge for five to ten minutes.
- Start the engine of the previously dead car.
Once the dead car can run on its own, disconnect the clamps in reverse order: remove red clamp from dead car’s positive terminal first, then the black clamp from the negative terminal of the functioning car. Then move on to the dead car, removing the black clamp first and then the red clamp.
Despite their potential dangers, jumper cables are the best tools available to jump-start a dead car in an emergency. Keep a properly insulated set in your trunk, and be sure to get one with longer cables for added flexibility. With the right cables and instructions, anyone can be prepared for getting their car back on the road.