Hey Atlanta, check out Smart Jumper Cables

It’s one of the most inconvenient things that comes with car ownership…the dreaded, Dead Battery. At Southtowne, we’ve heard of our fair share of dead battery stories. According to car-care expert Pat Goss, if you plan on jumping your new car with your old conventional jumper cables, DON’T! They can damage your vehicle’s electrical systems.

I know what you are thinking:  “The few times I’ve jump-started my battery, my old cables have worked just fine.” Goss recommends a set of new “Smart Jumper Cables”  as they can help prevent potentially expensive damage.  So, are traditional cables really likely to damage a modern vehicle’s electrics, or is using “smart” cables merely advisable?

From what I gathered, I would consider the warning to be quite strong and here’s why:  

When you successfully jump-start a car, you have one vehicle with a strong battery and one with a dead one, both running with their electrical systems hooked together. Both alternators are working hard trying to charge the dead battery and replenish the energy drawn from the good one.

As long as the cables are connected, the two batteries act as buffers to contain maximum voltage rise. But when the first cable end is removed, the systems go haywire because the voltage reference is gone. It instantly changes from the level of two batteries and two alternators to one battery and one alternator. When this happens, the alternator will climb to a very high voltage level. This high-voltage spike shoots through the electrical systems of both cars.

This is like a volt surge running through a computer. It usually doesn’t destroy anything instantly, but it can weaken components of both vehicles, including the engine control computer, alternator, sound system or any of the dozens of electronic modules in modern cars.

Smart cables have built-in surge protectors like the professional units used in auto shops for many years.  These dampen voltage spikes to prevent surge damage to electronics. An added bonus is that they also have an automatic polarity adjustment which will eliminate the possibility of damage (to you or the vehicle) from the sparking, or shorting that can result from hooking up cables backwards  (positive to negative).

Of course my purpose is to enlighten you about the potential danger of jump-starting modern vehicles with old-style cables. If you are unsure if your cables are the right ones for the job, you can always swing by Southtowne Motors.

Does anyone have a set of smart cables? How do you like them?

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