Starter cables are a great help when your vehicle refuses to start because of a discharged battery. In this post, you will get an overview of this useful and accessible car accessory, which is best kept in the corner of the trunk of your car.
Definition of Starter Cables
The starter cable, also known as a “starter clip,” is an automotive accessory designed to connect the terminals of the failed battery to those of a battery in working condition. Its role is to transfer electrical power to the discharged battery to start a broken vehicle.
Good to know: if your vehicle still does not start after using the start clamps, or if your battery does not hold the charge, it is in your interest to replace it quickly.
Description of Starter Cables
This device consists of two cables, each with a clamp at both ends. So there are four pliers. Each cable contains a copper conductor wire covered with a sheath: one is red and the other black. These colours are intended to differentiate between the poles (negative and positive). The length of the jumper cables is generally between 3 and 6 m.
Each clamp is equipped with an insulating handle in the same colour as the sheathing.
Good to know: it is strongly recommended to store the start grippers in a specific box or a suitable cover to ensure their protection.
How to Choose Jumper Cables?
The choice of the type of jumper cables depends on the motorization of the vehicle (gasoline or diesel). When choosing the appropriate starting clamps for your car, the information on the battery must be taken into account:
– the intensity expressed in amperes (A);
– the voltage expressed in volts (V) which is generally 12 or 24 V for a car;
– the load capacity expressed in amperes per hour (A/h).
These indications must also be mentioned on the packaging of the jumper cables to facilitate their choice. Depending on the battery amperage, the corresponding cable cross-sections are as follows:
– less than 200 A: 10 mm²;
– between 200 and 300 A: 16 mm²;
– between 300 and 600 A: 25 mm²;
– between 600 and 700 A: 35 mm²;
– from 700 A: 50 mm².
Good to know: the starting clamps are designed for a voltage of 12 V or 24 V, or even for both voltages.
How to Use Jumper Cables?
Before starting your vehicle with the appropriate cables, you must first have a second vehicle with the same type of engine or find a motorist who is willing to help you.
As soon as you have found the Good Samaritan, here is the procedure to follow.
1. Position the two vehicles side by side or face to face so that the length of the cables allows the two batteries to be connected.
2. Switch off the engine.
3. Make sure that both vehicles are in neutral with the hand brake applied.
4. Open both covers, then remove the caps covering the terminals of each battery.
5. Position the two cables by connecting one black clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the emergency battery and the other black clamp to the ground of the failed vehicle, then position the red clamps on the positive (+) terminals of each battery.
6. Start the breakdown vehicle, then turn on the vehicle’s ignition. A few key turns may be necessary. As soon as the engine starts, let it idle for a few minutes and then accelerate smoothly.
7. Without switching off the motor, then disconnect the starter cables, then put the battery terminal covers back in place. This operation must be carried out on both vehicles.
Good to know: despite several tests using the starter cables, if the vehicle still does not start, it may be a connection problem, a starter clip not adapted to the type of battery, or even a failure of the battery or alternator.
Precautions to Be Taken Before Using Jumper Cables
The two batteries to be connected must belong to vehicles with the same engine. This ensures that electronic systems are not compromised.
In the same way, both batteries must be of the same voltage: a much higher voltage on one of the batteries can damage the vehicle’s electronic system. Thus, a 12 V battery must be connected to an equivalent battery unless the start clamps are specifically designed for both voltage types (12 and 24 V).
Never try to start a vehicle with a frozen battery, as this may cause an explosion. Some batteries with a warning light can be used to check the condition of the inner liquid. This shows that it is frozen.
Avoid connecting the two black clamps to the two negative poles (-). As a battery produces hydrogen, this type of inappropriate connection could cause sparks that would be sufficient to cause the battery to explode or ignite. For this reason, it is advisable to connect the black clamp for the broken vehicle to the bare ground (and not to the battery) such as a bolt or other metal part, for example.
Good to know: Using unsuitable jumper cables can cause a short circuit that can lead to a serious accident. This happens when an excessively high electrical current is transferred from one battery to another.
Hope the above helps you out. If you are highly reluctant to work on the mechanics, contact your service department. A professional will immediately come to repair your vehicle with an autonomous starter, a device that costs only a hundred dollars.