Jumper Cables: Bring Your Car Battery Back to Life

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

Whether it is cold weather, or an old or malfunctioning battery, it all can cause your battery to die. However, as long as your battery is not dead, a jumpstart with jumper cables may be all to get your car running again or at least help you take it to the mechanics. Let’s dig in and make your vehicle run as before.

Car not starting
Car not starting

What are Battery Jumper Cables?

Jumper cables, or booster cables,  are a pair of battery cables of sufficient capacity with the same system voltage or another battery. To avoid accidental shorting, you can insulate the alligator clips. Moreover, a black and a red color code indicate an alligator clip’s polarity. Remember, never connect the battery terminal on the jumper cable to anything other than the designated target.

Basic Jumper cables with red and Black Clamps

Caption: Basic Jumper cables with red and Black Clamps

Jumper Cable Buying Guide

Although there can be a lot to consider, watch out for the following features in your jumper cables.

  • Length: It is important to have longer jumper cables to connect to the battery post of another car easily. Thus, it is better to be prepared for roadside assistance and have 6ft or more lines, even though it can be expensive.
  • Thickness: As for the thickness, the heavier the vehicle you own, the thicker the cable type. That means you need to go for lower gauges, like eight gauges or less, for your trucks and SUVs. That way, it can carry the necessary current to your vehicle.
  • Insulation: We cannot emphasize the cables enough without discussing the insulation type. As always, you must consider the insulation type according to the environment of deploying the line. For vehicles, it is advised to avoid cheaper insulation to lessen the chances of melting cables.
  • Clamp Material: If your clamp is a good conductor, the overall performance of the jumper cable will improve. Thus, look for copper while buying jumpstart cable clamps for yourself.
  • Amperage: Again, the heavier the vehicle is, the greater the current level to be provided. Hence, look for cables greater than 200Amps as they can work for most automobiles.
  • Warranty: In the end, you want a cable that guarantees safety while giving excellent results. For that, consider the lines that are UL certified. It is a worldwide safety certification; thus, you know you have a good thing in your hand.

Important Jumpstarting Safety Tips

Here are some essential safety tips when trying to jump the batteries.

  • Before you try to jumpstart your car, you should find out a few things. Read the manual for your vehicle, especially the parts about jumpstarting and your car’s battery. Some car manufacturers say you shouldn’t jumpstart your vehicle, or they may give you special instructions for your model. 
  • Be sure you know where the battery is in your car. Most cars are under the hood in the front, near the engine if that’s the case, terminals that can be used to jumpstart the car. 
  • Also, figure out which battery ends are positive and which are harmful. Each terminal should have a + sign for positive and a – sign for negative that is easy to see. It is crucial since you must correctly determine the terminals for a successful jumpstart while avoiding a hazardous situation.
  • Avoid jumping the rusted, fractured, leaky, or otherwise damaged batteries.
  • You can’t jump frozen batteries, so don’t do it.
  • Try not to jump the dry batteries. 
  • Avoid touching the clips together. 

How do I Connect Jumper Cables?

To jumpstart your car, you will need the following two things

  • Jumper Cables
  • And a Power source ( Either another car or a portable jumpstarting source)

Jump starting a car with a portable jump starter

Portable jump boxes, battery packs, or jump starters are small enough to be carried around with you. You can store them in your trunk box and use them whenever the battery cables create an issue. However, these boxes have a lower temperature rating and are unsuitable for summertime.

Either way, here are the steps to jumpstart your car with a portable battery:

  • Most portable jump starters come with built-in clamps and wires. There is one red or positive and the other black or negative. If not, connect the cable with the respective terminals of the portable jump starter while keeping the car and the jump box off.
  • Clamp the cable’s positive terminal to the car battery’s positive. Also, clamp the negative terminal with the car chassis or some unpainted metal in the engine. This setup reduces the risk of spark.
  • As you have connected the cables properly, turn on the jump starter. Then, try to start the car for a few minutes. If it does not starts, give the battery some time and then try it again.
  • As it starts successfully, remove the jumpstart. First, disconnect the negative from the car and then the positive cable.
  • Do I need to turn off my car before disconnecting the jumper cables? Yes! Since the vehicle is turning on, the current is flowing. So, touching the wires while running is not advisable. Moreover, you must ensure the jumpstart box is turned off along with the car before disconnecting. It may cause severe repercussions.

Jumpstarting your car with the help of another car 

In most cases, the most suitable option is to jumpstart a car using another vehicle. For that, you can follow these simple steps. 

  • Park both cars close to each other so you can connect their batteries with clamps. 
  • Now, take the red battery cable and clamp one side of it to the positive terminal of the live car battery. Attach the other side to the dead battery positive. 
  • Next, take the black battery cable and clamp one side to the negative terminal while attaching the other side to the metal plate in the dead car. 
  • Start the live car and allow it to charge the other car’s battery. In some cases, the dead car starts as soon as you attach the cables, but it might take a few minutes in other cases. 
  • As you have successfully jumpstarted the car, remove the black wire from the dead car first and then remove it from the live battery terminal. Similarly, remove the positive clamp from the working battery first and then from the dead one. 
  • And thus, you have done the work successfully. 
Charging car with electricity through jumper

Caption: Charging car with electricity through jumper

Best Size Jumper Cables for your Vehicle

Now, get a clear picture of which size cable is suitable for your car.

Best Size Jumper Cables by Vehicle Type

From 1 to 12 gauge jumper cables come in many sizes. The 1 Gauge is a heavy cable, while the 12 is a lighter-duty option. With a 10-gauge jump cable, you could get a low battery to start in mild weather, but it wouldn’t work on a dead battery. Because of this, a four-gauge cable is preferred.

Thus, If you are driving an average car, 6 gauge might be enough, and most cars have that. On the other hand, you might use a 10-gauge cable if you have a bike. Since bikes don’t use much energy, a smaller line should be enough.

Then, you should get a 4-gauge jumper cable if you own a truck, mainly a diesel engine truck with a larger battery. The denser line would be just what you need to jumpstart some heavy equipment.

Going for a truck requires a lot of power and runs on more than one battery. So you will need heavy-duty jumper cables of 1 or 2 gauge. It would be enough to do the job, and you would be able to move these cars.

Best Size Jumper Cables by Vehicle Brand

Compact cars like Mazda3 or Kia Forte use 6-gauge wires that are 10ft long and provide 200 amps. Kia K5BMW 7 Series, Nissan Maxima, and Toyota Camry can also use the same spec wire.

On the other hand, heavier vehicles like SUVs, Ford F-150s, and Chevy Express need extra power. So it is better to go for thicker cable like 4-gauge wires with 10ft length and 400 amps capacity.  

Connecting jumper with the battery

Caption: Connecting jumper with the battery

Can I get Jumper Cables at Gas Stations?

Usually, gas stations do have small cable harnesses available for purchase. However, they cannot be the best solution if you have a heavy vehicle like a truck or SUV. Thus, it is better to carry your thick cable that has the potential to jumpstart your vehicle type.

Conclusion

Sometimes, jumping your car might be the only option left for you. However, it is only possible if you have the correct cable size. Thus, you need to see the type of cable that suits you well and then purchase it for a lifetime. In most cases, jumpstarting the system helps it work for longer. However, if it fails to do so, you may have a bigger problem to address. Thus, it would help if you went to a professional mechanic for that. Here at Cloom, we offer wiring harnesses and cable assemblies to make your connection with attention to detail.

Get a free Cable Assembly Quote.