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#1737306 - 01/09/10 11:45 PM Good gauge for Jumper cables?
Nick R Offline


Registered: 07/14/09
Posts: 10611
Loc: NEO
Looking to buy a set of jumper cables (maybe in an emergency kit) for my car. What is a good gauge? most of the ones I see are 10 gauge, and a few are 8 gauge.
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#1737320 - 01/10/10 12:05 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: Nick R]
Seguino Offline


Registered: 11/28/09
Posts: 311
Loc: Vancouver BC
Get the heaviest ones you can afford. And the longest, so that you can park behind the other vehicle. Much safer if you are on the side of the highway. If you have an industrial supply store nearby, check out the price of bulk #4 welding cable. Get as much as you can afford and some 400 Amp clamps from an auto parts store and you will have a set of jumpers better than any commercially available ones, probably for less cost. You could jump start an 18 wheeler with them. 10 Ga are good for jump starting lawn tractors.

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#1737327 - 01/10/10 12:19 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: Nick R]
JimPghPA Offline


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 2819
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
Mine are made from electric welding cable. Very heavy clamps with a separate wire for each side, and jumper wire connecting each side of each clamp. Also extra ground wire also made of welding cable comes off of each negative lead and goes to a mid size clamp for an extra ground connection for each side of each ground. Also each large clamp has a Alligator clamp fed by multiple runs of stranded 12GA that provides an additional connection to the bolt for side terminals of the battery. Each cable is wound up and both then place in a clear plastic bag, that is kept in a large canvas bag. My cost $80 for cable and 40 for the 4 large clamps, plus the smaller extra ground clamps, plus the 4 extra alligator clamps. All connections are soldered, and also the fine stranded welding cable is protected from battery acid exposure by multiple applications of clear wood varnish.

Made this up years ago and never had a vehicle that I could not get started with it.

You do have to run the good vehicle for ten minutes to charge a dead battery before trying to start the dead vehicle.

I always get all the available keys to the dead vehicle in my possession before connecting my vehicle to the dead vehicle. The regulator for the alternator in you vehicle only senses the system voltage and does not sense how much current the alternator is putting out. If someone cranks a vehicle while your engine is running your alternator will put out too much current and damage the output diodes. NEVER let anyone talk you into allowing them to crank their vehicle while you engine is running. Always have he engine of the good vehicle off when jump starting any vehicle. If someone tells you that it will work better if you run you engine when they try to start their vehicle, tell them yes but it will damage you alternator. If they get insistent ask them to give you $150 to hold for two week so you can replace you alternator if the diodes get damaged. Usually when these diodes get damaged they go leaky, and this will put a small constant drain on you battery that will only be noticeable if you let your vehicle sit unused for two or more days. Then it will completely drain you battery and you vehicle will not start. Because it requires you to let your vehicle sit for two or more days it might not show up for weeks if you normally use your vehicle every day.

NEVER let anyone talk you into allowing them to crank their vehicle while you engine is running. That is why I hold the keys to the bad vehicle, so there is no way they can do that to my alternator.

By a separate wire for each side I mean to say that the negative actually has two welding cable wires running from the one vehicle to the other, and the positive actually has two welding cable wires running from the one vehicle to the other.


Edited by JimPghPA (01/10/10 12:33 AM)
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Boy will I be happy when ALL vehicles on public roads are autonomous.


JimPghPa


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#1737329 - 01/10/10 12:30 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: JimPghPA]
JimPghPA Offline


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 2819
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
Make all wires as heavy as you can.


Edited by JimPghPA (01/10/10 12:38 AM)
_________________________
Boy will I be happy when ALL vehicles on public roads are autonomous.


JimPghPa


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#1737365 - 01/10/10 01:51 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: JimPghPA]
JimPghPA Offline


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 2819
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
How is this for a make shift jumper cable set up?

Years ago, back when vehicles all had metal bumpers, and top post batteries, I had to get a vehicle with a bad battery to start. No one had jumper cables.

I slowly moved my vehicle with someone telling me how far apart they were. We touched the bumpers together front to front (that was the negative connection) and aligned so the batteries were close. Then I took the L shaped tire irons form both vehicles and held them so the small part of each L was touching a positive post. The end of the long part of each L reached and over lapped each other by a little more than one inch. I held those tight against each other (that was the positive connection). Told the owner of the bad vehicle to try it and it fired right up.

Hows that for McGivering a jump start?

To bad you can't do it with plastic bumpers and side terminals today.
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Boy will I be happy when ALL vehicles on public roads are autonomous.


JimPghPa


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#1737377 - 01/10/10 03:23 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: JimPghPA]
paulo57509 Offline


Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 1827
Loc: Tracy, CA
I would look for cables with 4-gauge cables and 20' in length. Cables like this won't come cheap, though.
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1987 Acura Legend L Coupe 2.7L (5-Speed)
1992 Lumina Euro Coupe 3.1L
1998 Lexus LS400
2003 GMC Safari

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#1737408 - 01/10/10 05:58 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: paulo57509]
tropic Offline


Registered: 05/06/08
Posts: 549
Loc: New Mexico, U.S.A.
I had a $150 gift certificate and spent it on a set of 25' 2-gauge cables with 500 amp clamps... wasted money. I think your Cavalier would be happy with 4- or even 8-gauge conductors and never come close to heating them up unless you allow a trucker to cop a jump from you.

Look for sturdy, mean clamps. Rubbery rather than hard plasticky insulation tends to be more flexible in extreme cold and coils up more tightly/easily for storage. 20' should be plenty long enough to safely jump cars that are parked head to toe. My old 16' cables were never too short, actually.

You can get a set of decent 20' 4-gauge cables from Amazon for less than $50. If you're feeling frugal, hit Wal-Mart and get a set of 8-gauge jumpers for much less. No worries if you're using the cables to jump your own car, but you shouldn't be offering jumps to industrial engines with them.
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#1737425 - 01/10/10 07:19 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: JimPghPA]
George7941 Offline


Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 1493
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: JimPghPA
I always get all the available keys to the dead vehicle in my possession before connecting my vehicle to the dead vehicle. The regulator for the alternator in you vehicle only senses the system voltage and does not sense how much current the alternator is putting out. If someone cranks a vehicle while your engine is running your alternator will put out too much current and damage the output diodes. NEVER let anyone talk you into allowing them to crank their vehicle while you engine is running. Always have he engine of the good vehicle off when jump starting any vehicle. If someone tells you that it will work better if you run you engine when they try to start their vehicle, tell them yes but it will damage you alternator. If they get insistent ask them to give you $150 to hold for two week so you can replace you alternator if the diodes get damaged. Usually when these diodes get damaged they go leaky, and this will put a small constant drain on you battery that will only be noticeable if you let your vehicle sit unused for two or more days. Then it will completely drain you battery and you vehicle will not start. Because it requires you to let your vehicle sit for two or more days it might not show up for weeks if you normally use your vehicle every day.

NEVER let anyone talk you into allowing them to crank their vehicle while you engine is running. That is why I hold the keys to the bad vehicle, so there is no way they can do that to my alternator.


Congratulations on a very well-made set of booster cables!

I occasionally jump trucks at work with my own vehicle, the Sierra, and have no hesitation starting the truck up with the Sierra engine running. I don't think there is an issue here for the following reasons.
1) The Sierra system voltage might drop,at the most, to 10v when the truck engine is being cranked. There is only so much current that the jumper cables will allow and the Sierra battery is a huge electrical "reservoir".
2)10v vs 14v is a factor of only 1.4. The Sierra is only idling
and the idle current it generates at 10v will still be less than its maximum rated current at around 13v(145 amps, BTW), running at speed.
3) This higher current while the truck engine is being cranked only lasts for 10 to 15 secs, it is not as if you are subjecting the alternator to high currents for hours at a time.
_________________________
2006 GMC Sierra 4.3l, NV3500,G80 locker rear, Formula Shell Synthetic 5W30, Wix 51036, Dexcool.
1987 BMW R80

Staying out of the right lane a lot.

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#1737432 - 01/10/10 07:33 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: George7941]
Johnny Offline


Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 14013
Loc: Retired | Wausau, WI
I bought a nice set of 6 gauge, 16 ft. cables from Advance Auto for $24.00 about two weeks ago. I believe they will serve me well for general automotive use.

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#1737435 - 01/10/10 07:41 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: Johnny]
Eddie Offline


Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 6771
Loc: Florida, Cape Coral
You don't need to go crazy with super heavy cables. Johnny has the right idea in my opinion. Now if your looking for cables to start a big Diesel in an 18 wheeler then we're talking 2 or 4 gauge wire.
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#1737454 - 01/10/10 08:05 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: Eddie]
labman Offline


Registered: 03/14/03
Posts: 8711
Loc: Nothern USA
I like the sound of the 6 auge and 16' too. the longer the cables, the heavier they need to be. Not sure what mine are, but they are welding cable based.

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#1737475 - 01/10/10 08:30 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: Johnny]
PT1 Offline


Registered: 02/06/07
Posts: 5746
Loc: near the mistake
Originally Posted By: Johnny
I bought a nice set of 6 gauge, 16 ft. cables from Advance Auto for $24.00 about two weeks ago. I believe they will serve me well for general automotive use.


+1 get these. You will be fine.
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Oils well that ends well...

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#1737569 - 01/10/10 10:01 AM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: PT1]
Papa Bear Offline


Registered: 08/11/05
Posts: 6093
Loc: Leamington, ON, Canada ..... r...
I have 2 sets of 20' jumpers made from used #4 superflex welder cable. I got the cable from a large welding shop nearby that replaces it's cables as a PM procedure. If the welder has 100' of cable on his machine, usually the "inside" 50' is not used nearly as often and if you can get a chunk of that it would make a great jumper cable ( or two ).
The welding cable stays very flexible in winter and is the best IMHO.
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"Over 6,000 posts... about 30 of them good ones" coffee


2007 Uplander .. ST dino, NAPA Pro-Select filter (more than sufficient)


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#1737754 - 01/10/10 01:07 PM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: Papa Bear]
George7941 Offline


Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 1493
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Assuming the recipient vehicle has a half decent battery, even if discharged, you can trade off cable thickness against time spent boosting. If you let the donor vehicle engine run for 10 mins and put some charge into the recipient vehicle battery then 8ga cables will give as strong a boost as 4ga cables would if the donor engine is not run for ten minutes.

Depending on how often you anticipate boosting, the trade-off might be worthwhile. You may not want heavy bulky cables taking up space in your car. I keep a set of 10ga cables in my truck, the cables are very compact and slide under the passenger seat.
_________________________
2006 GMC Sierra 4.3l, NV3500,G80 locker rear, Formula Shell Synthetic 5W30, Wix 51036, Dexcool.
1987 BMW R80

Staying out of the right lane a lot.

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#1738262 - 01/10/10 07:51 PM Re: Good gauge for Jumper cables? [Re: JimPghPA]
severach Offline


Registered: 02/04/08
Posts: 617
Loc: MI or LA
The wire gauge doesn't matter. That isn't what starts the car. Good clamps are what you want. What I do is solder wire between the two clamp halves around the hinge. This almost doubles the amount of power that can be delivered before being disconnected by a spark fault. This lets the cheap cables deliver the same performance as the expensive ones.

Originally Posted By: JimPghPA

The regulator for the alternator in you vehicle only senses the system voltage and does not sense how much current the alternator is putting out. If someone cranks a vehicle while your engine is running your alternator will put out too much current and damage the output diodes.

Alternators are current limited so can run any size load without damage. I always start cars with the other engine running and the alternators are never damaged.

Most of what the jumper cable does is charge the dead battery. A little surface charge in the dead battery will kick out most of the power leaving little need for large wire or heavy current from the donor alternator.

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