Sunday, March 21, 2010

Never blow up your battery with Michelin Smart Jumper Cables



by Sam Abuelsamid

Virtually every driver will, at some point, get that sinking feeling that comes when your car doesn't start. Digging out a set of jumper cables to boost a battery is a rite of passage. Jump-starting a car can be a slightly tricky process, though. The positive and negative terminals of the booster and "boostee" need to be connected properly or the battery can be blown up. Which is, you know, sub-optimal. Over the past decade, a number of devices have come out to help ease the battery-jumping process, including portable booster batteries and even jumper cables that plug into a 12V outlet inside the car. Those plug-in cables will never be connected with reverse polarity, but they might not be able to carry enough current to actually crank your engine.

Enter the Michelin Smart Jumper Cable. Instead of the usual color-coded clamps for your battery's positive and negative terminals, the cables are all Michelin blue. Halfway down the cable is a box of electronic smarts. Just put one clamp on the positive terminal of the battery and the other on any piece of bare metal and the electronics will detect whether you've made a complete circuit and illuminate an LED on the central box. When the second battery is connected, the electronics automatically determine the polarity and switch it as needed. A set of these smart jumper cables runs about $30 to $40.