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Flat Battery? Jump Starter 101 is in Session!

jump starter cable clips attached to car battery

Wondering how jump starter cables work and how easy they are to use? If you’ve ever driven one of those cars that goes on strike the same way Chautauqua decided to, and simply refused to move anywhere, you’ll know jump starters are invaluable.

One of our team says that – as a Land Rover owner – jump starters have pride of place in her boot. Priorities!

We know these devices sometimes seem a little bit intimidating. After all, you’re manually starting a car’s engine when you use them. But having a jump starter around is invaluable. If you or someone else is in a sticky spot, it means you can sometimes get that stubborn car going without having to call in roadside assistance or tow trucks.

We’re here to debunk the myth that jump starters are difficult or dangerous to use. And seriously – buy a set!

When would you need to use them?

Obviously, a jump start won’t solve all of your car related problems. But a portable jump starter (or even jumper cables, which we’ll get to later) can kickstart a dead battery.

Perhaps your car has a fault with the power supply to the battery or it’s stood still for a long time while you were away/avoiding COVID and the battery has gone flat. Side note: read our article on how to look after your car when not driving as much.

Whatever the situation, a flat car battery can usually be brought back to life with a jump start. Which means no need to tow it to the battery centre! So that’s a huge saving in terms of both time and money. But if it’s a recurring problem, here’s some advice on how to fix your dead car battery.

Whether it’s to use on your own vehicle or to help out someone else doesn’t really matter. Portable jump starters are affordable, easy to come by, and don’t take up much space. Having them isn’t mandatory, but it is a good idea.

How to use a portable jump starter

So, the first thing to remember is that there are actually two types of devices you can use to jump start a car.

Device no. 1

The first one, often just called “jumper cables”, uses another car’s working battery to kickstart your car’s dead battery.

They’re great, but are a little more complex and obviously require another working car. That’s tricky if you’re alone on an empty road during a road trip. Or if you just don’t feel comfortable asking a stranger to borrow their engine for a minute or two!

You can learn how to connect jumper cables by watching this video below. Or you could read our article on how to jump start a car in nine steps.

Device no. 2

The second one is a portable jump starter. These are incredibly useful because they don’t require the use of another car. They’re basically like a really strong powerbank you can use to give your car’s battery a boost.

They’re also really easy to operate. You simply match the battery terminal colours to the alligator clamps then turn on the portable jump starter. That’s it.

The starter will output a huge charge, which should get your battery going again. You can then turn on the car and disconnect the starter. But remember most of them carry enough juice to give you one or two attempts at starting the battery. Unless you’ve a super powered option for starting a monster truck. In which case, more power to you – literally!

However, this is one instance in which traditional jumper cables come in handy – you can keep them connected for a longer time if your first attempt doesn’t work.

Still not quite sure how to work your portable jump starter? Check out this video.

What to look for when you buy

There are tons of jump starters on the market today. If you’re looking to add one to your emergency car kit here are a couple of things to consider:

  • What size is your engine? A bigger car with a large engine will need a higher output than a small, zippy hatchback.
  • Where will you keep it? Some portable jump starters are so compact they can fit in a glove box. Others take up quite a bit more space.
  • What’s your budget? Of course, a top-notch device with tons of power and lots of extra features will cost more. But if you just want something for real emergencies and don’t want to spend a fortune, you don’t need the Lamborghini of portable starters – maybe a Toyota would suffice.

One of the best options is the compact but powerful Noco Boost, which should be sufficient for most people’s needs.

Car insurance for more peace of mind

A jump starter can’t solve all your car issues, sadly. But an affordable car insurance plan can help cover you for some things that your jump starter won’t. Like if you’re involved in an accident or your car is stolen. With comprehensive car insurance, you’ll have a financial cushion. Phew.

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