Jumping a car from the cigarette lighter...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

My question is about the new type of jumper cables that you plug into the cigarette lighter. Are they completely safe and worthwhile? If they are, this scardey cat would be a lot less reluctant to jump start her car.

TOM: Good question, Edith. They are safe, and they do work, but you can get a masters degree in electrical engineering in the time it takes to get a car started with these things.

RAY: Traditional jumper cables are made of thick wire, so they allow a lot of electricity to pass through very quickly. The problem with the "cigarette lighter" cables is that the wires are very thin, so it takes an awfully long time to transfer enough electricity to get a car started. It's kind of like filling up a bathtub with a water pistol.

TOM: Yeah. It may take almost as long as waiting for the tow-truck from AAA! But if safety is your primary concern, and you've got the time (unfortunately, at my age, I don't), these may be just fine for you.

RAY: Just make sure you get the set that comes with two copies of War and Peace. One for you to read while your car is charging, and one for the driver of the other car.

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