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  1. Default Better than Battery Jumper Cables?

    That's why I always, always, always carry one of these, especially when I'm out on my own

    http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductD...number=PMJ8960

    that's not the one i have, but close. I've lost count how many times I've had to use it, not only for myself, but for other people on the road. Much more convienent than jumper cables (if you can even find another car around to get a jump from), and there are some situations when jumper cables just aren't possible to use. Plus, couple it with an inverter and you have AC power wherever you go. I've had complete strangers offer to buy it from me after I jumpstarted their cars for them, I guess they've never seen one.

    My original one was still going strong after 4 years, but I decided to trade it in for a smaller model. Much lighter and smaller, and a lot cheaper. The one I have now weighs about 7 lbs and is smaller than a shoebox. These are NOT the same as those glove compartment units, where you have to plug it in to the cigarette lighter and let it recharge a weak battery. This has to be connected directly to the battery and will start a completely dead battery. So now I never have to worry about leaving my lights on or radio on when I'm camping in the car, cuz I know I can just jumpstart it in the morning.

  2. Default Handy

    So, this device is like a battery that you'd use to boost a vehicle with? Is it rechargeable, or is it that when it is gone, it's gone? If so, 4 years is a pretty good life, but I suppose it also depends on how many times it gets used, eh? Bob

  3. Default

    This is a battery that you can use to boost a car. Just think of it as a miniature car battery in a box. It's rechargable, depending on the size of the unit you can probably get up to 10 jumpstarts before you need to recharge it again. I recommend getting the smaller units which can probably do about 3-5 jumpstarts before you need to charge it, and only cost about $20. But all you really need is one jumpstart, because once you start the car, you can plug it in and have the alternator charge it back up ready for the next time.

    If i were to count, I would say I've used it at least 50+ times to jumpstart dead cars. Sometimes it's my own car if I've been working on it and left the ignition on for hours, and a lot of times for my parents car who had a weak battery. A few times were for some stranded motorist on the road who's car's have broken for some reason, and while fixing they left the lights on or something else like that.

    Once I saw some guy who was stranded in the middle of a two lane mountain road in the dark and snow, and was causing about 1 hour of traffic backup in both directions. By the time I had reached him, nobody had even bothered to stop and at least help him push his car off to the side, they just barely squeezed by on each side of his truck and left him there. I don't remember how he ended up in the middle of the road, but the car itself was fine, it was just a dead battery. Even with jumper cables, due to the traffic on both sides, it would have been impossible for me to turn my car around to face his and jumpstart it. Just for that instance alone I felt it was worth the price, and the other guy told me he was going to go directly to the autoparts store and buy one before he did anything else.

    This doesn't even include the times I've just used it as an acessory power outlet to power tools or other things in the back of my car without having to use the main battery. Or when I use it during a blackout to power a TV or light. I've also used it with those portable air compressors to inflate mattresses inside the house. Most people probably only use it to jumpstart their car in an emergency, but it will pay for itself that very first time.

  4. #4
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    Some drivers for our contractors for AAA Arizona carry these (and use them alot). Unfortunately, with frequent use, jump-boxes don't last very long (need to be recharged). Our fleet carries a few in Metro Phoenix, but uses them mainly for people who are parked nose first into garages or inaccessable places (where a set of cables cant go). For private use, I would certainly reccomend them. If you plan to be an "Uber-Good Sam", then you may want to stick with just a pair of cables.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default What models?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cascadia4-brad m
    Some drivers for our contractors for AAA Arizona carry these (and use them alot). Unfortunately, with frequent use, jump-boxes don't last very long (need to be recharged). Our fleet carries a few in Metro Phoenix, but uses them mainly for people who are parked nose first into garages or inaccessable places (where a set of cables cant go).
    Brad, that does seem like a good application. What models does AAA use for their own fleet?

    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Teaching an "old dog" a new trick

    Quote Originally Posted by Cascadia4-brad m
    Some drivers for our contractors for AAA Arizona carry these (and use them alot). Unfortunately, with frequent use, jump-boxes don't last very long (need to be recharged). Our fleet carries a few in Metro Phoenix, but uses them mainly for people who are parked nose first into garages or inaccessable places (where a set of cables cant go). For private use, I would certainly recommend them. If you plan to be an "Uber-Good Sam", then you may want to stick with just a pair of cables.
    This morning, I had an interesting lesson. My long-time mechanic saw me hooking up jumper cables between two personal vehicles and practically sprinted across the parking lot to stop me. So, I will pass on what he shared with me:

    The days of jumper cables may be past UNLESS the operator is darn careful. It turns out that as little as 4 amps can effectively short out and scramble the chip-set (electronic brains) of most modern automobiles. The voltage drop between a healthy battery and dead battery can result in a healthy jolt to the donor vehicle's electrical system and the resultant amp spike can destroy the good Sam's electrical system in one charging session if both vehicles are running.

    If you must use jumper cables this is the only safe way to ensure that your vehicle does not become damaged:

    1) Ensure that both donor and donee vehicles are shut-off.
    2) Connect the battery jumper in the proper order and on the correct terminals.
    3) Start the donor vehicle (DO NOT EVER START THE DONEE VEHICLE WHEN THE CABLES ARE ATTACHED). Soft charge the dead vehicle's battery for about 20 minutes.
    4) Disconnect the cables and then start the Donee's car. If the battery is OK, there should be sufficient juice to engage the starter.

    My mechanic further argues that the battery-in-a-box described above are far superior to ever using jumper cables and should be included in every roadtripper's car kit. (of course, you do have to keep them topped up).

    So, Brad -- What do you think of this policy?

    Mark

  7. #7
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Good timing on the post

    Last night I had an AAA contractor swing by and jumpstart my car, using jumper cables from his tow truck. He connected the cables to my car first, but bypassing the battery, using something under a red hatch door (i'd go see what it was, but the vehicle I am talking about is nolonger with me... literally.) He connected the red line to that and the black negative line to a bolt that connected to the frame. Then connected to the battery of his running tow truck. My car started after 2 attempts of turning the key. I had a jump from another vehicle a week before battery to battery and it took 15 minutes before my car would start, even with the donor car still attatched and running.

    I do agree that with newer cars, jumper cables are probably not great. Sounds like your mechanic is giving you good advice... I have seen many fried batteries (no harm to the donors electrical system, but they needed a new battery afterwards) when using jumper cables.

    I don't know what models our drivers use. I will see if I can get some info from a driver or two.

    For average personal use, a 'jump-box' might be best. It seems that when you do need a jumpstart there's no one around that either has cables or is willing to help, so a 'jump-box' is great to get your own vehicle back on the road, not to mention helping someone else without frying either your car's electrical system or the battery. Older cars (I'd say about 94 or older) should have no problem with jumper cables.

    It's a good thing that in many markets, AAA is doing mobile battery service. Many other companies also have mobile battery service, which is probably even better than a jump. With our vans, we test the electrical system to make sure it's not something else causing the problem (alternator, etc.). A jump just get's you started. If you have a bad alternator, you're going to be in bad shape a few minutes down the road.

    Again, I would agree to your mechanic's advice about doing jumpstarts.

  8. Default

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that jumper cables are completely useless (but getting close to it). My electronics knowledge is a little rusty, but I think it would be very, very, difficult to get a 4 amp spike through a car's electronics IF (a very big IF) the dead battery is still connected to the electrical system and the donors car's voltage regulator is in good working condition. The dead battery should act as a huge buffer between the donor and the donee, stabilizing any type of voltage or current spikes. Hypothetically, for something catastropic to happen, the donor car would need to be running, with the cables unconnected, and the dead battery disconnected, and the stranded car with the ignition on at the same time you connect the cables. Then theoretically, there would be a difference in voltage, probably enough to cause a spike to go directly through the car's electronics without a buffer and fry the electronics. I've always left the cables connected when jumpstarting and haven't fried anything...yet, but I could just be very lucky.

    That being said, I wouldn't take any chances while jumpstarting, and would recommend following the procedure outlined above. If I ever use cables again, I'll probably follow that procedure above and remove the cables before starting.

    Also, that jumper I linked to in the first post is now on sale at my local Big Lot's store for $25. I just bought another one a couple weeks ago because my coworker bought the last one off me after I jumped his car.

    Brad,
    Is the thing under the hatch door possiblly just a plug? I have an old set of tow truck jumper cables, about 50 ft long and probably 2 gauge wire. Thing weighs a ton! (or maybe about 20 lbs). One end has giant clamps, but at the other end is a large plug that attached to a matching plug under a hatch on the front or rear bumper of a tow truck.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Electronics Wiz (I am not)

    Quote Originally Posted by LA Native
    My electronics knowledge is a little rusty, but I think it would be very, very, difficult to get a 4 amp spike through a car's electronics IF (a very big IF) the dead battery is still connected to the electrical system and the donors car's voltage regulator is in good working condition.
    What happens is the alternator on the doner's car is not "smart" it will attempt to push the full voltage load it has down through the cables to the dead battery and this tends to be the source of the amperage spike. Alternators are built to maintain battery levels, not power vehicles, unless they are specially built. In the Phoenix One, I used one that was built for ambulances since I routinely used the alternator to charge mulitiple batteries on the road -- sometimes exceeding 40 amps! for short bursts. Such a power load would compromise most automotive systems.
    I've always left the cables connected when jumpstarting and haven't fried anything...yet, but I could just be very lucky.
    Me too, I have been jump-starting vehicles for over thirty years -- never had a problem, but my mechanic fried his own car last year after stopping to assist a motorist in a grocery parking lot (these days he never goes anywhere without a battery-boost pack). The damage wasn't noticeable until the next day when he attempted to start the car to go to work and found a zapped voltage regulator and damaged alternator...
    Also, that jumper I linked to in the first post is now on sale at my local Big Lot's store for $25. I just bought another one a couple weeks ago because my coworker bought the last one off me after I jumped his car.
    Good to know.

    Thanks,

    Mark

  10. #10
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    No, it was on my car. I don't remember what it was... and of course my car is now in a salvage yard so I can't go out and take a look. There was no plug, it was just a clamp.

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