It does happen to everyone: you forget to turn off the CD player or headlights, and you leave the car parked for the rest of the night. When you get back to it in the morning, you realize that turning the key into ignition position does nothing or the electric motor barely spins, not enough to get the engine running. So, what is there to be done? Replacing the battery is probably out of question, since there is little chance you have a spare battery just laying around in your garage. Instead, you can ask for a fellow car driver to aid your battery by charging it over jump start cables.
Before getting into details about how to use jump start cables to revive a drained battery, a discussion is needed regarding how to choose the right pair of jump start cables according to your vehicle. One thing is definitely certain when buying jumper cables; you get what you pay for. There are three main characteristics to take in account when willing to purchase a set of jumper cables: cable gauge, clamp quality and insulation.
Cable gauge sets the amount of power the wire is able to allow to pass through. The higher the gauge (lower numerical index on the gauge meter), the higher amount of power the wire will be able to handle. Using thinner wires will take longer for the jump start procedure to begin, as it will require more time before the battery gets charged enough before being able to start the car again as usual. Thin wires are usually cheaper but can’t handle enough amperage to charge up the battery. If you try to use thinner cables in jump starting procedures, the wire will begin to heat up; this happens when it cannot cope with the amount of energy sent by the donor car. Finally, higher gauge cables can be built at longer lengths, allowing for easier connection between two cars.
Although the cost of cables rises as they are thicker, one will notice that clamps are also getting better. Low quality clamps are copper plated, while higher quality jumper cables will feature solid copper clamps which conduct electricity better. Copper plated clamps usually wear off after a few dozen uses due to the steel layer beneath which doesn’t conduct electric current too well.
On the same note as gauge size, insulation of the cable is equally important. Higher insulation can be found on thicker and equally more expensive cables. Colder climates ask for better insulated cables to avoid cracks due to low temperatures. Also, higher insulation aids pliability, allowing users to wrap cables back easily after being used.
Since critical points in acquiring jumper cables have been discussed, a brief description on how to get your car running again by jump starting is at hand. First of all, one should make sure that the donor battery has at least the same capacity as yours. Then, both vehicles should be put in park or neutral, and both engines shut off. Attach the red clamp at the positive terminal of each battery. You can find the positive terminal by looking after the “POS” or “+” sign near it. Next, connect one of the black clamps on the negative terminal of the donor battery, while the other end should be attached to a metallic unpainted surface of your car. Negative terminals feature the “-“or “NEG” sign near them.
Go ahead and start the car. If it doesn’t work, check the wiring again and let the donor car run for five minutes before trying again.