North York Battery & Electrical System Maintenance - Quality Booster (Jumper) Cables
Your car owner's manual (as well as the top of your battery) tells how to connect jumper cables safely to prevent shock, sparks and a possible explosion. You should also be careful about using substandard quality jumper cables. These usually combine thick insulation & plastic around a thin wire. The wire could quickly overheat, melt the insulation and cause a short circuit. In household wiring, a fuse or circuit breaker could prevent a fire, but with jumper cables, where there is no such circuit breaker protection, so a real hazard can exist
Among other shortcomings of inferior booster cables include:
- High resistance in inferior cables can damage the starter motor when subjected to long periods of cranking.
- Flimsy, poorly insulated clamps with weak springs can provide poor electrical connections.
- Poor quality cable jackets (insulation) become excessively stiff and brittle in freezing weather.
Here are some features to look for in a quality booster cable
- Adequate length and gauge of cable (12 - 16 ft; 4 gauge).
- Pure copper wire cables for best conductivity.
- Tangle-free design with a heavy duty insulated jacket.
- Built in warning lights will signal incorrect connection.
- Flexible cable guards at the clamp handle prevent wear at the stress points.
- Clamps should fit both the top or side of battery terminals
- Clamp handles covered with bonded vinyl insulation.
- Insulated clamp jaw with no exposed metal parts, which would otherwise arc when touching vehicle frame or other parts.