November 23, 2009
Michelin Smart Jumper Cables. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
By Paul Williams
Michelin’s “Smart Jumper Cables” are designed to help avoid personal injury and electrical damage that may be incurred during an improper jump-start (or “boost”). They can also eliminate power surges associated with jump starts that may damage a vehicle’s electrical system, or in severe cases cause a battery to explode, by automatically adjusting polarity when the cables are used.
To quote Michelin, “improper use of ordinary jumper cables can result in sparking or shorting which can result in serious injury to the user.” Not to mention the potential for damage to your vehicle.
Of course, winter is the time of year when batteries seem to fail — usually at the most inopportune time — although battery failure is also common in areas that experience high temperatures. Michelin suggests that a vehicle’s average battery life is three-to-five years in moderate climates, and only two-to-three years in areas of high heat or extreme cold.
In any event, batteries do lose their ability to hold a charge over time, and a cold spell may just be enough to render a weak battery unable to start your vehicle. This is when jumper cables typically appear, hopefully enabling you to start your vehicle and head for a service centre.
The differences between smart cables and conventional cables are significant, and even if you’re completely familiar with the jump-starting sequence, smart cables still have the advantage of preventing electrical surges that can damage a vehicle’s electrical system.
The main difference is that they have cable clamps that can attach to either the negative or positive posts of the assisting and receiving batteries, and a module that adjusts polarity as required. This means you don’t have to be concerned about battery polarity when connecting them to the assisting and receiving batteries (you do have to be able to identify the positive and negative terminals on the receiving battery, however, if you are following Michelin’s instructions for their use, below).
Other features of these cables are that LED indicator lights confirm the correct connections are made, the cables have textured grips to improve handling, and the cables stay flexible in cold weather, reducing their propensity to become tangled and difficult to use.
Michelin recommends four vehicle preparation steps and four boosting steps when using the Smart Cables to jump-start a vehicle.
Vehicle Preparation Steps
- Position vehicles so they are not touching, but close enough for cable use.
- Set an auto transmission vehicle in “Park” or a manual transmission vehicle in “Neutral.”
- Turn off the ignition on both vehicles and set both parking brakes.
- Raise and secure both hoods.
- To the vehicle supplying assistance: connect one clamp to the positive (red) and the other clamp to the negative (black) battery terminal. [ed. note: it doesn't matter which clamp you connect to which terminal].
- To the disabled vehicle: connect one clamp to the positive (red) terminal and the other clamp to exposed metal on the engine block or vehicle frame.
- Verify both green LED lights are lit on the jumper’s centre module. If not, adjust the clamps until the LED lights illuminate.
- Start the vehicle supplying assistance and let it idle normally for about 30 seconds. Then start the disabled vehicle. Once the disabled vehicle is running, disconnect the clamp attached to the engine block/vehicle frame first, and then disconnect the remaining clamps in any order.
Note that if you can’t tell the negative from the positive terminal on the receiving battery, the positive terminal is always a little bigger.
If you’re a collector car owner, with a positive-ground vehicle, Michelin says that, “It is no problem to use the Michelin cables between a positive ground vehicle and a negative ground vehicle. The circuitry will recognize and adjust just as if you had switched the lines.”
Michelin Smart Cables would make a fine gift or purchase for someone who is unsure how to connect cables for a jump-start. They are a heavy duty option that is simpler to use than standard cables, and the green LED light confirms that a correct connection between the two vehicles has been made.
Michelin Smart Cables are available in Canada for $39.99 at Zellers stores. Check MichelinSmartCables.com for other locations, online purchasing and additional information about Smart Jumper Cables use. However, note that the website’s instructional video doesn’t follow Michelin’s recommended procedures for using the cables.