How To Avoid Being Left Stranded

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Something about the Texas weather just zaps a cars battery.

It could be the 50 degree variances in temperature over a 24 hour period, but I’m no scientist.

(Case in point: On Wednesday it was 80 degree’s and sunny out and on Thursday I woke up to a frosty 28 degree’s)

Now I know I can’t complain too much about the temperature as our brothers and sisters up north have it way worse than us.

But no matter where you are, there is one thing that you can keep in your car that can keep you from being stranded, no mater where you are.


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I found out about this lifesaver at one of the many jobs that I held in my younger days.

A car dealership.

When I first started at the dealership I found out rather unhappily that if a car had a dead battery, It was my job to push it into a position where jumper cables could be used.  Needless to say this not something I enjoyed doing.    Then I was introduced to a portable “jumper box” and my job became infinitely easier.

The first day that my manager brought this little lifesaver to me I had absolutely no idea what it was, now years later I don’t think I would have made it as long as I did without it.

I couldn’t find the exact one that I had at the dealership, but I think I found one that should work pretty well.

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The Good:

The battery in these things packs quite a punch. I could just start 10-15 cars before running out of juice and needing a recharge with the one we had at the dealership.

Some of them actually have 120v ac adapters that let you charge or run house hold items directly from the box.

Most of them have “idiot lights” that let you know if you have hooked up the jumper cables in reverse order which could damage the cars battery.

They can be charged via a 12v outlet like the cigarette lighter in your car or through a household outlet for a quicker charge.

Most of them are a slim design and  will stash in the trunk of your car or behind a seat without any problems.

Portability, I cant tell you how many times I have parked a car, nosed up to a wall , only for it to be dead later and have no way to get a jumper cable to the battery. With one of these  that isn’t an issue, as long as you can fit you can get the car started, provided of course that the issue is the battery.

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The Bad:

Weight.  Many of these weigh in at over 20lbs which could be an issue for some people.

Price- while you can get some of these jump boxes from a local auto parts store for under $50.00, the battery will be lower quality and burn out quicker

That leads into the next problem, there is no real way to tell when the battery is going bad. One day it will just stop taking a charge.

The Bottom Line:

For anyone that does a ton of driving, especially alone, one of these jumper boxes can be a real life saver.  One of these can keep you from being stranded on the side of the road for hours on end, watching as other motorists pass you by.  Yes they are heavy and yes they can be expensive but having the ability to jump start your car and/or charge your cellphone to call for help will be much better than waiting for AAA.

Click below to grab one today: ( you can find them at any auto parts store, Wal-Mart, or Sears also)

 

Check out these related articles from our site:

What to Do When You’re Stranded in Your Car

How to Revive Dead Batteries

Welding with Car Batteries

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15 Responses to :
How To Avoid Being Left Stranded

  1. Sven says:

    Before making a selection on any particular model or maker, look for these on Amazon and look at the customer reviews. I was going to buy one a couple of months ago but there was not a single one I could find where the reviews were universally good. In fact, most seem to have serious design flaws with no customer service. It also seemed like a lot of the people with good comments hadn’t owned the product for any length of time while the ones with the negative comments had, exceptions to every rule of course. If people here would contribute their personal experiences with their models, it would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Ray Miller says:

      I agree that these jump starters are great. I bought mine at Northern tool, and it is one of the best things I ever bought. Mine has a 110 outlet, a 12volt socket, outlets for charging your lap top, cell phone, an air compressor, a flash light that you can have on steady or flash as a warning light. and to top it off you can crank it with a pull cord like your lawn mower has to recharge the battery when no other soarce is available, or charge it on 110 or 12volt. On top of that it will fit in one of the average size plastic ammo boxes found at Cabelas’. I store mine in one so that I can keep the charging equipment and the instruction booklet with it all in one place. I also put a couple of pieces of foam rubber in there to protect it from damage should it get bounced around.

  2. Leonard says:

    I got one from Auto Zone about a year and a half ago. It cost $90.00 plus tax. It needed to be charged once a month if you weren’t using it (most of the time) and more frequently, if you do. I probably helped more people with it than myself, and at that, probably didn’t use it more than 20 times, before it died. I suppose the cost, averaging out to $5.00 per use made it a good investment–though I would have expected a longer service life than 18 months and 20 jump starts. The advantage of places like Auto Zone, O,Reilley’s (formerly Checker) and Pep Boys is they’re stuff is affordable. The downside is, it’s usually inferior and unreliable. I’ll get my next one from NAPA and see how that works out…

    1. Roys Andrews says:

      Please let me know of a good one to buy.

      1. Paul says:

        Had 3 diffrent jumpers all junk. Went to wall bought cheap car battery w handle wired on old jumper cables from yard sale it jumps the deadest batterys or no battery at all been good for the last 5 years charge it on charger every 2 months best investment ever

  3. Josh Muckley says:

    I’ve had a few of these devices in the past. All of them eventually become useless because of a battery that no longer holds a charge. It just happens. Fortunately places like eBay and Amazon have vendors that sell replacement batteries for just about every device known to man. If you’re willing to put in a little effort you can “save” and possibly upgrade your device.

    As for recommendations regarding the device, I don’t think it matters too much. Obviously a warranty is nice and a three year or life time warranty would be worthy of a little extra consideration. Battery capacity is measured in Amp-Hours or AHr. Basically how many amps times how many hours. Most standard car batteries are 500-800Ahr. As for booster packs you’ll probably find that they are 200-300Ahr (this keeps the weight down). I would look for the highest capacity you can carry, period. Most booster boxes use sealed lead acid batteris. If you find one that takes Li-ion it will cost much more but will be much lighter and stand a better chance of not needing a new battery. Second, I would look for one that can be setup to always be being charged from the car it is stored in. Most people take them inside and charge them for a night put them back in their car for the next 6 months. Sure enough it is dead when they need it. Allowing the battery (sealed lead acid) to go “dead” is a sure way to ruin the battery. The charge circuit should be one-way protected so that when your car’s battery goes dead it doesn’t also drain the booster box you had been charging from the cigarette lighter.

    The accessories like lights, air compressors, and radios are nice but add to the bulk and weight. Not only that but if you dispose of the booster box you will also be disposing of the gadgets. Buy separate gadgets specifically to be kept in the car. That also includes AC power inverters. A small AC inverter, with no cord, that can be plugged into a cigarette lighter ($30) is perfect for when you need AC to charge every other little gadget and gizmo (flashlight, portable radio, laptop, cellphone, weather radio, personal radio)

    Two very valuable accessories are a charge indicator and an accessory outlet (cigarette lighter socket). Less needed but still valuable is a USB port. If possible the charge indicator should be a digital voltage read out. If not possible then a bar graph of LEDs is good, hopefully with a voltage or charge scale. Avoid the three LEDs (Green, Yellow, Red). They tell you very little. Worse than that is the one LED (charge complete).

    You could consider storing or installing a spare deap cycle battery and storing jumper cables.

    Nothing is a complete “set it and forget it” package. Regular inspection is must to ensure your booster box is in working order when it is needed.

    Hope this helps, good luck.

    1. Sven says:

      Thanks for the good advice, Josh.

  4. Lynn says:

    When it goes bad you have the battery replaced at a Battery Plus, or an independent battery supplier. Usually the rest of the box is still good.

  5. Just Saying says:

    Just wanted to say, most of these boxes use a sealed lead acid battery. It does have a memory effect so using till dead then recharging will lead to a reduction in overall battery life. Google battery care and charge life for much more information. I completely agree about having the battery replaced (if you have one nearby) when it does go dead.

  6. Allen says:

    I have owned a few of these and used others at work. A couple of notes on them, some of these already brought up; They do wear out. They must be checked and recharged occaisonaly. They consist mainly of a battery, therefore storing them where you need it most often, ie in a vehicle, causes extremes of temperatures which takes a toll on the battery. The cold especially really drains the batteries. Thawing out/Warming up seems to help and is a good idea before recharging too. Some of these have little air compressors as well and most nowadays seem to have plastic hook ups for the valve stems. These break very easily. I have had them break off in my hand in very cold temperatures before 1st use. So if you want this feature, try to find one with a metal air hose end. These were all good name brand ones that I am mentioning or specifically made for emergency services type use, not cheap junk. Still, they do break and wear out, but you seem to get what you pay for as the cheap ones seamed to wear out sooner.

    They are great for the intended pupose of starting cars, but also work as portable electrical supplies. They work great for powering camping appliances, charging cell phones etc.

  7. Melissa says:

    I have needed one if these so many times now I have a note tapes to my dash that says “lights a-hole” as a reminder. Though now my van shouts them off automatically after 20 minutes.
    My hubby had a power inverter box and not a cheap one, it fried the cigarette outlet in his vehicle. Thankfully that vehicle has more than one. Maybe it was just his car but I wasn’t willing to risk it again.
    I keep a small air compressor in my car and it works great, I got it on clearance at target for $2.50 yep… It was a pre boxes Christmas gift item one year and I got it in the after Christmas sales. I store it in my car and use it in all weather conditions with no issues. I have used it over 100x.
    I have a very long set of jumper cables so even if I am nose to a wall I can connect it to a vehicle beside me.

    When all else fails and hubs is on the road… My brother in law has a jump pack

  8. Ron says:

    I owned one several years ago and its battery failed, I didn’t charge every few months. I bought a Black & Decker model at Walmart about 2 years ago, and I’m very decplined now charging every few months. It has saved me many times, I’ve charged it in the car from a cheap inverter without trouble. As with any rechargeable battery you need to periodically charge to keep battery healthy.

  9. Evangeline Williams says:

    I like the brother-in-law help best but I will be looking for one of this. Hope I don’t end up with a dud.

  10. Phil says:

    This is a great Survival tool in a SHTF situation, Where Power is out.
    I have 12 volt lighter chargers for my flashlights. Cell phones, Handheld radio’s, Kindle, 12 volt 7 inch TV. Etc Etc. I use it on my work bench to charge my NiCad AA, AAA, C, D,AND 9V rechargeable batteries. I run a 12 volt inverter sometime for small 300 watt or less 120v AC Appliances. Never thought it would be good for starting cars in Minnesota winters. This will take care of a lot of electrical Needs and could be recharged by plugging it into your BOV.

  11. JOE RICO says:

    nobody has made any comments on how not to charge a battery. Never charge on metal or cement floor, l was told it would drain thru the bottom of the battery?

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