A jumper cable proves to be an essential tool for your car if it has got weak batteries. A weak car battery doesn’t have the power that the starter motor needs. So, you would find a pair of jumper cables handy indeed.
Now, several motorists don’t have jumper cables with them. Even when they have, they find it challenging to jump-start the battery.
This can expose the vehicle to potential dangers. One of these includes excessively hot jumper cables, which can eventually melt these devices’ plastic installation and rubber components.
So, if you have just started jump-starting your car’s battery, you should know what might cause a jumper cable to melt.
We have discussed the reasons that might cause the cables to melt in this article. Besides, we have briefed out what you should look out for while purchasing jumper cables.
Why would jumper cables melt?
Check out the most probable reasons leading to the melting of jumper cables.
1. Misaligned connections
In case there is a misalignment in the connection, the jumper cables might melt. When you connect one battery using these cables to another, take care that the clamps of the cables remain connected to the respective battery terminals.
As you know, you should attach the positive post to the red clamps and the negative one to the black clamp. Using the wrong ends of the wire can trigger an electrical failure, causing the jumper cables to get heated and melt.
In modern cars, the manufacturers incorporate certain safety measures that prevent the battery from exploding. Therefore, the jumper cables take the toll and eventually melt. So, you need to inspect the symbols (plus and minus) besides checking the colors of the cables.
2. Using cheap jumper cables
If you use a cheap pair of jumper cables, charging the battery would take longer. You can get the task done swiftly by using a good pair of jumper cables. Jump-starting car batteries require you to use the standard apparatus.
There might be an inadequate power supply using a cheap pair of jumper cables. Besides, it can cause electrical glitches and the cables might melt.
Make sure to get jumper cables of the right thickness. You need to focus on the gauge, which measures the overall load of the amperage and the metallic composition in the respective cables.
Look out for heavy-duty jumper cables that come with a lower gauge rating. You can find jumper cables with 0 gauge at reputed automotive parts shops.
However, regular drivers need not go for something so expensive. You can settle with something between 4 and 6 gauge. The problem would arise only when you try to shell out only a few dollars for inferior quality cables.
As a thumb rule, don’t go for anything more expensive than $15. These low-grade jumper cables wouldn’t be able to handle the electric flow.
3. Wrong material
Cheap jumper cables often contain aluminum as the manufacturers try to slash the production expenses. However, you need to get jumper cables with copper.
Otherwise, these cables would melt, as they don’t carry as much thickness as copper cables. Besides, copper proves to be a better electric conductor than aluminum.
Some cables contain a combination of both copper and aluminum. This way, both the user and the manufacturer can save costs.
Here, a copper-clad aluminum cable provides you with the necessary conductivity at a lower price. So, if you are low on budget, you have a viable alternative to the expensive jumper cables with copper wires.
4. Damage to the cables
It’s imperative to store the jumper cables correctly to keep them in proper functional conditions. In case you expose your jumper cables to high temperatures, they would split and crack.
If this insulation undergoes any compromise, the copper might sustain damage. In these situations, the high electrical volts might melt the cables.
Also, make sure that the jumper cables do not come in exposure to water or electricity. This would lower its ability to carry electricity. You can simply store it safely in a bag when you are not using the jumper cable.
5. Loose connections
Sometimes, a loose connection of the terminals in the jumper cables can cause overheating and melt it. This happens even if you have attached the right terminals to the cables.
All the time, a massive amount of power would be traveling between the two batteries. So, if you have a loose connection, the cables would become hot and eventually melt.
In most cases, human errors lead to loose connections in jumper cables. However, the problem might also stem due to dirt, corrosion, and other factors on the battery terminals or the jumper cables.
Check the clamps repeatedly to keep them firmly attached to their place. If you find the clamps’ quality deteriorating with use, you should get a new pair of cables.
Can jumper cables start a fire?
Yes, jumper cables can start a fire. As we mentioned, loose connections might melt the jumper cables. Sometimes, these loose connections also lead to short circuits.
Eventually, the process builds up heat, potentially damaging your car’s electrical system. Under extreme conditions, the jumper cable or battery might turn very hot and start a fire.
Things to note while buying Jumper Cables
We have developed some guidelines to help you purchase a set of reliable jumper cables. Checking out the following aspects before you make the purchase would help you make the right decision.
1. Check out the rating
As we explained earlier in this article, the jumper cable rating refers to the wiring gauge. There is an outer insulation on the wiring, which secures the cables from the elements.
Considering that a lower rating means better quality of jumper cables, make sure to get gauge cables with ratings between 1 to 6. Anything beyond that indicates inferior quality. The thicker jumper cables are more robust.
2. Thicker insulation
When you settle with cheaper jumper cables, you would have only a thin insulation film. This secures the metal wiring inside. Even the clamps have a good quality of sheathing around them.
It would be wise to purchase high-quality jumper cables with thick insulation. This ensures better longevity for the cables, besides enhancing their performance.
Try to bend the wires to ensure the cables have good insulation. In case you find it hard to bend them, it implies good insulation. It makes sense to shell out an extra amount to purchase long-lasting and durable cables.
3. Length of the cables
If you have short jumper cables, you would find it difficult to jump your car. So, try to get jumper cables with at least a 10-foot length.
Moreover, you might be in a situation where your car’s battery has gone dead, and the other vehicle is not in a position to come within a 10-foot radius from your car.
Therefore, it makes sense to purchase long jumper cables that might be even 25 feet long. This assures that you can jump the car in any circumstance.
4. Design of clamps
The design of your jumper cables goes a long way in establishing a secure connection. When you observe the clamps, you would find the design like an alligator’s teeth.
This assures that the clamps can bite the other end firmly to establish a firm connection with the battery. Moreover, better teeth would enable one to clamp the component in different positions.
Therefore, regardless of the location or accessibility of the battery posts, you can get them connected. When you explore the higher-end jumper cables, you would get better clamps.
5. Material of the jumper cables
Since copper is a great conductor of electricity, it would be wise to go for copper cables rather than aluminum ones.
To ensure that the electricity passes through without resistance, you must choose the right material. With the wrong material, you would take longer to jump the car effectively. Besides, the cables might sustain damage.
You can get jumper cables made of copper-clad aluminum to make an affordable pick. Although they are not as robust as copper cables, you would be able to jump-start your battery successfully.
Well, we have discussed the prime reasons that might cause your jumper cables to melt. Now you would be able to make an intelligible decision and choose the right kind of cable.
This way, you can keep your car battery safe, while ensuring a long lifeline for the jumper cables. Avoid purchasing substandard qualities of cables and invest in a high-quality product.