Are Jumper Cables Bad for Your Car? (2023)

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If you’re a car owner, you’re probably aware that things might go wrong sometimes. Your car is a machine and machines don’t always cooperate in time for our plans. This aspect of cars means that we need to have equipment in place that helps with hurdles so we can get to our destination in time.

One of the most significant tools that one should have in their car is jumper cables. These cables are especially important if your car is prone to shutting down or if you live in a location that faces a lot of precipitation.

(Video) Never Jump Start Your Car Like This

However, the question remains, “Are jumper cables bad for your car?” Read on as I will try to explain all you need to know.

As long as jumper cables are used properly they are not bad for your vehicle. The only time they are dangerous would be if you don’t put them on correctly or don’t use them as intended.

Modern cars have many intricately designed auto-electric systems which have their electric specifications. Many people think these electronics might get damaged when you jump your car (or another car) but that actually isn’t true.

Jumper cables that are used (and attached) properly should not cause any issues for your car’s electronics. A car battery is simply not powerful enough to damage the electronics.

Jumper cables essentially help you restart your car by employing a high voltage shock to your battery so that it can function again.

However, think about this realistically. If your house gets struck by lightning you will have extra electricity. However, you will also have several fried electronics.

Many people think that is the same for jumping a car, however you aren’t sending a huge amount of power through the jumper cables like a lightning strike would. Instead you are sending through the 12 volts from your battery.

As long as you aren’t trying to jump a lawn mower with a large 60 ton earth mover then jumping any vehicle should not have the voltage difference to cause any issues.

(Video) Connecting Jumper Cables Backwards? Here's What Could Go Wrong!

What are the Risks of Using Jumper Cables on Your Car?

As mentioned before, jumper cables can be dangerous but that danger is really only if you don’t connect them properly or if they spark and there are a lot of gas fumes around.

There are some other risks of using jumper cables on your own that you should be aware of before you purchase such a piece of equipment for your car.

1. Check your car’s battery health.

If your battery has consistent problems with shutting down, your battery might be old and damaged. A damaged battery has the potential of catching on fire when you use jumper cables on it. They may catch on fire because most car batteries have sulfuric acid which can become vapor and leak out of the battery’s openings.

If you try to jump start a battery with this issue, the acid may react with the jumper cables and lead to a fire. If the sulfuric acid leak is great, there’s a very real chance of explosion.

You can absolutely cause a lot of harm and damage to yourself and your surroundings so you do need to be careful if this issue happens with your battery.

2. Make sure the environment is dry

If you’re in a wet environment, for example, if your car gets caught in a rainstorm and won’t start, you should not try to jump start your car there and then. Water is a good conductor of electricity, and jump-starting your car in those conditions could cause you to fry all of the electrics of your car.

Additionally, you may shock yourself badly.

3. Jumping your car yourself

Often people who use jumper cables to get their car going do it rarely. Some people who are jumping their car will do it wrong because they are far from experts in mechanics.

(Video) How to Properly Jump Start a Car

Calling a professional might not be feasible because an expert is several hours away or simply because you simply don’t want to spend the money. However, using jumper cables on your car on your own can prove very dangerous and even expensive if you aren’t careful and don’t do it right.

If you have never used jumper cables and are unsure how to use them, you can seriously harm yourself or your car.

First, you have to connect the jumper cables in the proper order and to the right thing. Newer jumper handles will often have instructions on them but some don’t.

If you hook up the jumper cables wrong they could spark, not work at all, or cause other issues.

Secondly, there’s also the risk of seriously harming yourself as you try to jump-start your car. Although this risk is minimal in most cases it is a real risk.

As mentioned above the dead battery might be leaking acid which could ignite or if your vehicle isn’t functioning right and there are many gas fumes they also could ignite and start a fire.

Why Do People Use Jumper Cables On Their Cars?

We know now that using jumper cables cannot really mess up the car’s electrical systems but they can be dangerous if used improperly. And yet, people still use them. So why is that so?

One of the reasons many people use jumper cables despite any possible risks is that they work really well and quickly. All jumper cables should be able to get your car started and running so you can drive it home, to the mechanic, or even to the store to go buy a new battery.

(Video) How To Test A Car Starter With A Screwdriver And Jumper Cables!

Secondly, jumper cables are convenient. You don’t have to carry any heavy equipment to use them. You don’t have to charge anything or take any extra precautions to ensure that they will work; you can just connect them to the dead battery and a running car and you should be able to start your car almost instantly.

Thirdly, they are portable. You can wrap your jumper cables up and place them in the trunk of your car, and they travel with you everywhere you go.

They don’t take up an insane amount of space; thus, it’s convenient to travel with them so you can have them with you in case of emergency.

Fourthly, jumper cables are very versatile. You can use jumper cables to start up not only your car but anyone else’s too. If you’re on a road trip with friends and one of their cars breaks down, you can use your car battery to have their car up and running quickly.

Lastly, they’re easy to use. Jumper cables don’t require you to take a 20-minute training to use them. Their purpose and functions are fairly simple. You connect the big alligator clips from one battery to the other battery/car frame and you are ready to go.

Final Thoughts

Using jumper cables improperly can prove disastrous for you or your car however they are simple to use.

The most important aspect to remember is that you need to be very careful with jumper cables and make sure that you hook them up properly. As long as they are hooked up correctly and the battery isn’t leaking acid then there should be no issues.

Jumper cables are very convenient and versatile. It is always a good idea to have there cables in your truck in case something goes wrong while you are away from the house.

(Video) How to Jump Start Your Car

That said, you should make sure that you invest in high-quality jumper cables that don’t disperse sparks willy-nilly or that will break over time.

Thicker jumper cables will help you mitigate a greater number of risks than regular, thinner jumper cables, and you should look into these when buying a pair for your car.

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Is Jumping cable bad for your car? ›

Jumping your own vehicle can cause damage to the car if not done correctly. Vehicles today are built with more electronics inside than ever before. Improperly jumping your car can cause harm to these electronics. Placing the clamps on the wrong terminals can short circuit or even damage parts beyond repair.

Are jumper cables good or bad? ›

As lithium-ion battery technology gets better and better, you might think jumper cables are becoming obsolete. Not necessarily. Jumper cables can come in handy where a dead jump starter would not, so it's not a bad idea to keep a set in your roadside emergency kit.

Is it bad to jumpstart a car everyday? ›

Jump-starting your car battery once is not a problem. However, if you have to jump-start your battery up to three times a week, it's time to get a replacement, as it is probably damaged. Also, when jumping-start a car, avoid cranking it more than three times if the car refuses to start.

Will jump starting a car drain my battery? ›

Does jump starting a car drain your battery? If you've been asked to help jump start a friend's battery, you run the risk of frying one or both of the batteries if your battery is old or damaged in any way. Ensure your battery is in good condition before offering to help jump start anyone else's car.

Is it safe to use jumper cables on newer cars? ›

There are complex electronic systems in today's cars, which is why jumpstarting a modern car can cause major damage if done incorrectly.

How long can you use jumper cables on a car? ›

You should leave jumper cables connected for around five minutes at first. If your car still doesn't start after five minutes, it may take longer—up to 30 minutes in extremely cold temperatures. If after 30 minutes your car still doesn't start, there's likely more wrong than simply a dead battery.

Does jumper cables damage battery? ›

This process will put slight stress on your battery and alternator. However, in most cases, this process is harmless. A healthy battery will be unfazed by the jump-start, and your battery will recharge as you drive. However, If done improperly, jump-starting another car can pose some risks for your vehicle.

What is better than jumper cables? ›

A booster pack, jump starter, or jump box is another common piece of equipment used to jumpstart car batteries. Unlike jumper cables, a booster pack doesn't need a second battery to work.

Is it better to use jumper cables or battery charger? ›

Car battery chargers are the only option if you want to charge a car battery completely. If your car battery often runs out of power and you want a tool that will allow you to keep filling it up, you should buy a charger. A jump starter only adds enough power to start a car.

Can jump-start damage engine? ›

Like most electronics, a power surge can cause damage to the electronic systems of a modern car. A seemingly well-meaning jumpstart can cause said power surge and impact the effectiveness of onboard computers, safety systems, damage the engine and be the result of expensive repairs.

What not to do after jump starting a car? ›

Once your dead battery is jumpstarted, you should drive around for about 30 minutes. Don't leave your car sitting idle or it won't charge as quickly. After 30 minutes, your car should start again next time and each drive after that will continue to charge it.

Should I leave car on after jump-start? ›

Cars should be running for at least 30 minutes after receiving a jumpstart. Again, it's much better when the car is moving –this also recharges the battery. You can tell that your battery is weakening with the following symptoms: Engine cranks much slower.

Do I need to replace battery after jump start? ›

Getting a new battery for your car is unnecessary since you have to jump-start it. A car battery can last long after being jump-started, but only if the alternator keeps it charged. If your battery is five years old or more, you should get a new one to prevent it from giving you trouble again and again.

Do you hook up red or black first? ›

Attach the red jumper cables first. Start by clamping one red cable to the positive side of the battery that won't start. Then attach the other red clamp to the positive side of the working battery. Next, clamp one black cable to the negative side of the working battery.

Can jump start damage alternator? ›

Impact on alternators from jump starts: The alternator's design makes it fairly impervious to negative effects from jump starting. However, the alternator can sustain instant damage if the polarity of the clamp connections is mistakenly reversed.

Do jumper cables make a difference? ›

Though most of us can often go years in between using them, jumper cables are an indisputably invaluable tool that uses the electrical energy from another car to jump-start a weak or completely flat battery in another vehicle.

What are the disadvantages of a jump starter? ›

Like most electronics, a power surge can cause damage to the electronic systems of a modern car. A seemingly well-meaning jumpstart can cause said power surge and impact the effectiveness of onboard computers, safety systems, damage the engine and be the result of expensive repairs.

Are cheap jumper cables okay? ›

Many cheap cable sets have loose-fitting handle insulation, and you can trust that a shock with that much voltage is not something you want to experience. Final Word: Grab a long, heavy gauge, well-insulated jumper cable set and put it in your trunk today. You never know when you are going to need it!

Where should you never use a jumper wire? ›

Jumper wires should not pass over pads or vias used as test points. Once jumper wires have been added to a circuit board, the less they are disturbed or moved, the better. Jumper wires shall not be routed under or over component leads or component bodies. Contact with heat sinks must be avoided.


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