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The Michelin Smart Jumper Cables™ seem to be a great step up from ordinary jumper cables. These 12′ long cables are 8-gauge copper-clad aluminum wires with a control box that automatically adjusts the polarity when the clamps are connected, and prevents sparking or shorting. Basic jumper-cable connection rules still apply: from one side of the control box, connect one clamp to the boosting vehicle’s positive battery terminal and the other to its negative terminal. Then, from the other side of the control box, connect one clamp to the disabled vehicle’s positive battery terminal, and the other to exposed metal on the engine block or vehicle frame. If the control box’s green indicator lights are on, you’re ready to try a jump start. The control box also has built-in surge protection for the vehicles’ computers and electronics. A set of these smart jumper cables costs $34.99.

These look like a good idea to me – no more of that “put the red clamp on the positive terminal of the good battery, and then…,” especially on a dark, cold, rainy night with crummy cell-phone reception. What do you think?

Michelin 5100 Smart Jumper Cables Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Michelin Smart Jumper Cables™ [Manufacturer's Site]

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32 Responses to Hot Or Not: Michelin Smart Jumper Cables

  1. Jack says:

    HOT, especially like you said, on a cold, rainy night.

  2. Mac says:

    Hot.

    If you don’t know how to wire regular cables, you should not be doing it anyway. These aren’t priced too bad, and would be great for most of the population that doesn’t know what they’re doing.

  3. Shalin says:

    Agree with Mac. Also…I wonder when the infomercials will start running for this thing ;)

  4. jeff says:

    It is way tougher to sometimes ID the terminals on the battery than the cable. If the order of connection still needs to be preserved (perhaps for the polarity switching to work correctly?) then I think they are warm.

  5. jeff says:

    Scratch that, order isn’t that important.

    From the FAQ:
    Do I have to connect the clamps to the battery terminals in a certain order?

    No. MICHELIN Smart Jumper Cables do all of the thinking for you. Connect one set of clamps to the boosting vehicle’s battery terminals and the other set of clamps to the disabled vehicle – one clamp on the positive battery terminal and the second clamp to metal on the vehicle engine block or frame.

  6. Geoff K. says:

    Just use a simple mnemonic: Good red, bad red, good black, bad block

    Yes, the last step is “block” not black. The last step grounds the connection to the engine block of the car with the dead battery. Maybe someone with more recent knowledge can confirm if this step is still valid with new battery technology. I always do it, just to be safe…

    This isn’t rocket science, it’s attention to some simple details. And I agree with Mac, if you’re not comfortable with the process, just don’t do it. But learning how is pretty easy…

  7. patrick says:

    NOT.

    Say these $40 cables are not well engineered or made. They’ve been rattling around in my trunk for a few years, periodically getting wet from snow or rain, living through -10F winters and 100F summers. Imagine what happens when the magic switching technology fails to switch…

  8. Matt says:

    These have been out for a year now, but I’ve never seen them in stores. I’d be worried about smaller diameter wire. . . for the soccer mom these would be a great first try before call me or AAA.

  9. Dar says:

    Not.
    Aluminum wire is a poor conductor comparative to copper, and will decay and oxidize internally with power throughput. This causes resistance, making the supplying vehicle pump more power for the same result. Aluminum also heats MUCH more rapidly than copper due to internal resistance.

    The electronics are a great idea, but matched with small gauge aluminum is a fail. Pure copper of a bigger gauge would make it hot. From a car freak electrical engineer.

  10. Jerry says:

    Gotta say, “NOT”! Aluminum is a real fail – then they copper coat them to try to fool the less knowledgable folks. Electronics (switching) banging around in a trunk, tossed onto the pavement, etc – not good.
    For those folks that can’t figure out how to connect a good set of cables, pay your AAA dues.

  11. DW says:

    Not…
    I would rather see#4 wire at least and the electronics just sound like an unnecessary point of failure. Also, if the polarity concept is too complicated, you should forgo the process entirely… Probably driving too, because you are stupid.

  12. kyle says:

    I agree if you cant conect a set of jumper cables you shouldnt be messing with them. Also the wire is way to small exspeciall if you have too jump a larger engine in the winter(it requires more power to start a colder engine)

  13. shopmonger says:

    Not! I had 3-4 sets of these in a shop and they all failed… they break in less than a week. Good idea in principal, but they are not rugged enough to stand up, even in normal once a year usage…… and it this point in time ASE does not recommend any particular order in jumper cable application, although because of how some of the electronics are grounded i would recommend direct to battery terminal connection, and not using the old way of engine block grounding. Some of the electronics are isolated from engine block grounding due to interference. not that it should matter, but just to be safe…. Some cars even have places for jumping speciifcally, but battery is always a safe place at this point.

    ShopMonger

  14. Toolhearty says:

    Back in my late teens/early twenties, when I was either getting or giving the most jumps (and before I knew there was a proper order), I used to connect the positives first, then the negatives, directly to the battery posts. Connecting the positives first meant less chance of a hot positive lead accidentally contacting the return negative (creating a short). I would have been hard pressed to find a non-rust-laden piece of metal to connect the negative clamp to on the cars I drove.

    As I understand it, the purpose of “The Proper Order” is so that the last connection, the one that completes the circuit and causes a spark, is farthest away from a charging, hydrogen-producing battery. Is this really a concern? Has anyone, at any time, every been able to ignite the puny amount of hydrogen that a battery produces? …especially outdoors, in winter, with a 30mph “breeze” blowing?

    Oh, and that aluminum wire and unnecessary complication stuff. I vote “NOT”. Better than battery cables: replace your battery every 5 years or less.

  15. Toolhearty says:

    Looks like shopmonger beat me to “questioning the established order”. :)

  16. jeffrey immer says:

    about 5 years ago i bought a battery jump start at target for around $60.00 never had to use it on my car since i bought but i have kept it charged like it suggested, and it still works great (on others cars, go figure) but still much more useful than the jumper cables and consumes about the same amount of room in my car

  17. Kris says:

    Agreed, NOT.

    The AAA card was invented for people who don’t know how (or can’t be troubled) to jump start cars.

  18. fred says:

    @Toolhearty

    I actually witnessed a corner blown out of a battery by a service station attendant (I can’t say mechanic) when he made the last connection. I can also think that a really bad battery (one with a low resistance internal short) might need to be removed from the circuit entirely (i.e. pull the ground strap off) to get the car to start.

    @Shopmonger
    I guess if the battery ground strap is not connected to the chassis or engine block – then the old method has an issue

  19. Justin says:

    NOT. These cables are more delicate than a set of normal cables, therefore less reliable as emergency equipment. This product is a work around for user ignorance and negligence. The right answer to this problem is to be familiar with your tools and their proper use, and to be present and attentive to the task at hand.

  20. David Bryan says:

    It ain’t the bee’s knees, and I like my jumper cables made out of welding cable, but I think you fellows are being a little too hard on “8-gauge copper-clad aluminum” in this particular application. And in principle an electronic circuit that’ll do this kind of switching job can certainly be robust and durable. Other than that, I’m a little underwhelmed by this product. On a side note, I ran out of gas once and a lot of people drove by me and my gas can, but when I got out my jumper cables somebody stopped to help me pretty quick. I’ve found that people who won’t mind helping will stop when they see the cables but they’ll just drive by you with your head stuck under the hood.

  21. Eddie says:

    A little pricey and I don’t think it would stand up over the years, especiall in a work truck or other rough handling situation.

    Maybe they would have a place in the trunk of a new luxury car but then… aren’t their better options nowadays???

  22. Brau says:

    I thought the main issue was connecting directly to battery terminals causing a spark and Ka-Blam, an explosion! Seems to me while this cable set might prevent cross wiring it still doesn’t replace correct jumping knowledge and therefore may create a false sense of safety.

  23. tmib_seattle says:

    NOT. I like having regular heavy-duty battery cables that I can just toss in a trunk or back of a vehicle and not worry about. They can get knocked around, get sand or mud on them, and I know they’ll keep working.

    Plus, a regular set of jumper cables can be useful for other things. For example, the set I keep in the Jeep gets pulled out when I go fishing in the canoe. I put a deep-cycle battery in the front of the boat and use the jumpers to connect it to my trolling motor. Without the cables, the battery would have to sit in the back of the boat. Up front it provides some decent counterweight.

    pic: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2513/4050015285_8f73e22b84_o.jpg

  24. russ says:

    Not

    Every time I see a set of cheap jumper cables an experience comes back to mind when I was working at another company and we had company cars…I miss those days. The President of the company purchased car kits which included jumper cables for all of us. Fortunately he was the first to use them and I don’t know what damage he did to the other vehicle but he gave the person his business card and told the person to send him the bill. The next day we had an internal re-call of those kits and I never saw or heard about them again. Ever since that time I have been careful to buy good jumper cables – preferably heavy duty. A lesson learned at someone elses expense.

  25. Discobubba says:

    NOT – I’m with others in that if you don’t know how to hook up jumper cables you shouldn’t be messin under the hood. I say buy a good set of regular cables and use the money ya saved to pay someone to show ya how to do things the Proper way. I’d rather see people LEARN to use a simple tool like these.

    A while back I had a dying battery and before I had the time to swap it out it crapped out while at my local Hardware store. Being prepared I had my cables ready to go. Now you would think most folks going into a small Hardware store would be fairly knowledgeable. Instead they’d look at me like a deer caught in the headlights of a madman! You wouldn’t believe the cockamamie excuses I heard “My batteries too old” “I don’t even know where its located under my hood”. Finally one nice person helped me out, but after that I kept a spare in my trunk until I was able to properly switch it around.

    AFAIK Its still a good idea to practice putting that last Ground connection to the frame or block. Most Batteries today are still made the same as they have been for year and therefore still create a bit of Hydrogen. Granted its not a lot so the chances might be slim it explodes but its better safe than sorry.

  26. Stanley L says:

    Oh come on, people. Even if the person who’s stranded follows your advice and decides not to do the hookup because they don’t remember the order, that won’t stop the samaritan giving the boost from doing it wrong. Just think of this as a safeguard, like testing a line after you shut down the circuit.

    And if you’re so worried about the electronics dying, just keep a regular set as well. Easy.

    I agree that this particular version of the device is lame, but the basic idea isn’t.

  27. [...] Toolmonger » Blog Archive » Hot Or Not? Michelin Smart Jumper Cables [...]

  28. mikeq says:

    Im suprised so many smart people here are so wrong. The order of connecting has nothing to do with hydrogen.

    Connecting to the engine block instead of terminal should avoid sparking near the mininal battery hydrogen though.

    The connecting order prevents shorting out of the battery! The good battery will put out hundreds of amps when shorted and is dangerous. The positive terminals should be connected first. Once the grounds(negative) are connected the vehicles share a common ground and most pieces of metal in a vehicle are grounded so if the positive clamp touches another piece of metal in the car the battery then the other car would be shorted through the ground wire if connected.

    Connect the positive first.

  29. David Bryan says:

    Mikeq, all them smart folks might be onto something after all. I sure wouldn’t say they were so wrong. Just because two birds get killed with that one stone doesn’t mean only one of them counts. If it’s only about the order then there’s no problem with the last, potentially sparking connection being made to the battery. A lazy so-and-so like me might get away with it his whole life, but batteries occasionally do explode, for a lot of different reasons, hydrogen accumulation among them. Here’s a couple of examples, although they’re not in automotive applications: http://www.kd4bbm.com/battery_safety.htm http://www.dmme.virginia.gov/dm/Operator%20Memos/BatteryChargingIncident5-21-04.pdf

  30. Paul says:

    um, 8 gauge?? seriously for $30+? I’d have to leave those sitting on my truck for 20 min to start a dead battery. Try maybe a 4 or less gauge wire. An 8 gauge wire is surely going to be ‘hot’ because it can’t transmit enough amps.

  31. JC says:

    The purpose of the “smart” jumper cables is not only to protect the not so smart users. It adds a surge protector to the cable to protect the cars electronics. After the jump start, with normal cables, both alternators produce a spike of voltage when the jumper cables are disconnected. This spike can damage the modern car’s computer and other delicate electronics. If you don’t think that this surge protector is a good thing, then you must not have a surge protector for your TV, Computer and other expensive electronics at home.

  32. Daniel says:

    The fact that if the battery you want to jump is totally dead, makes these mostly useless. I have had these in my trunk for a few months, and I purchased them because my old ones were not in good condition anymore. I also liked that if my wife (or anyone else) had to use them, they could not hook them up wrong, or damage the computer with a surge. I was unaware though (and it was not mentioned in the slip that came in the box) of the above problem. I had my first opportunity to use them yesterday when a friend had left his key on for a while he was gone for a couple of days. I confidently drove to him (in a shopping center parking lot), hooked up the cables, and nothing, left the vehicle running, and checked the lights. The lights on my side were a bright green, and on his side were a lighter green ( I thought that it was because his battery was dead), but there was nothing happening. Luckily, after about a half hour, another person showed up with a regular set of cables, hooked them up, and started the vehicle. I am deeply disappointed with this product, a bad item for Michelin to be selling. If anyone knows how I can get in touch with the maker of these (or which Michelin department I need to talk to) I would appreciate that information. I would not suggest these cables as they are useless in a real emergency.

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