Use Quality Booster Cables
A precautionary message in your car owner's manual or on top of
your battery tells how to connect jumper cables safely to prevent
sparks and a possible explosion. An additional statement might warn
about the dangers of using substandard quality jumper cables. These
can produce a situation similar to connecting a thin, poorly
insulated extension cord to an electric heater. The wire could heat
up, eventually melting the insulation and causing a short circuit.
In household wiring a fuse or circuit breaker probably would
prevent a fire. In the case of jumper cables, where there is no
circuit breaker protection, inadequate strands of wiring, leading
to melted insulation, could be a real hazard.
Among other shortcomings of inferior booster cables include:
The engineers of Associated Equipment Corporation offer tips on
features to look for:
- 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 in freezing weather.
- Built in warning lights to signal incorrect connection.
- Flexible cable guards at the clamp handle to prevent wear at
- Pure copper wire in the cables for best conductivity.
- Adequate length and gauge of cable (12 - 16 ft; 4 gauge).
- Tangle-free design with a heavy duty insulated jacket.
- Clamps covered with bonded vinyl insulation.
- Insulated clamp jaw with no exposed metal parts which could arc
when contacting vehicle frame or other parts.
- Clamps should fit both top or side terminal batteries.