Car cigarette lighter wires
Starting wires (also called car “cigarette lighter” wires) are typically used to supply starting current to the terminals of a dead car battery. The current source (in other words “donor”) in such cases is usually another car or a fully charged battery.
Click to enlarge.
Cigarette lighter wire.
Some motorists, having no leads, remove their battery, put the battery from a donor car or another charged one in its place, then, after starting and a short warming up of the engine, remove the terminals while the engine is running and install the original battery again. This operation is extremely dangerous for the following reasons:
- if the alternator of the car gives high voltage, the moment the battery terminals are disconnected with the engine running, abnormal voltage is supplied to all electrical equipment of the car, which can disable electronic control units, lights, other devices;
- “loose” terminals at the moment of switching the battery may lead to a short circuit;
- disconnecting and disconnecting the battery increases the likelihood that the battery, both regular and donor cars, will be polarized, which is extremely dangerous;
- removing the battery terminals can lead to problems with the immobilizer, alarm system and tuning the car radio (again, on two cars).
How to choose the right starter wire
You should understand that a low quality starting wire is most likely not capable of carrying enough current to crank the crankshaft. And it also does not provide good contact of the clamps on the battery terminals, which leads to burning of the metal of the crocodiles. The crocodile itself can also fail quickly on a low-quality product.
In addition, motors of different volumes require a certain minimum voltage value, which is directly affected by the cross-sectional area. Therefore, the following criteria are taken into account when selecting a wire for cigarette lighter:
- The diameter of the cable , because it is from it depends on the resistance. The resistance decreases as the cross-sectional area increases. Thus, a wire that is too thin will simply be insufficient to start the engine. The minimum is considered 6 mm, which will be suitable for cars with a small (up to 1.5 liters) engine volume, the best variant would be with 9-12 mm in diameter.
- The length of the wire also affects the resistance, so you should take a cable length of 2.5-4 meters – so it will not be so short that it will not reach the hood of another car, and not so long that it will adversely affect the current transfer from one battery to another.
- The wire and clips should be made of copper, as it has the lowest resistance compared to other materials. The winding should be made of silicone or frost-resistant rubber to be resistant to environmental influences – often “light up” is done in the cold, when the elasticity of materials can change a lot. The flexibility of the cable can also change with temperature changes, so attention should also be paid to the rigidity of the insulation. “Crocodiles” should be at least copper-coated.
- The connection between the cable and the “crocodile” should be done well, since this is usually the most vulnerable point. Ideally the connection should be made by soldering – this will avoid voltage loss.
- The clamping areas of “crocodile” can be recorded in a separate item, because even if the cable is expensive and of high quality, but will not be able to catch on the battery terminals, you will not be able to start the car. The teeth of the clamps should fit together, and their springs should be strong enough to provide a good grip.
- Two-color wires – this is necessary for ease of connection and to ensure the safety of drivers, so that for sure you do not mix up the order of connection. Traditionally, the positive wire is red and the negative is black.
What are the best cigarette lighter wires
Let us distinguish several brands, which are distinguished by a consistently high quality of products:
- ALLIGATOR, AIRLINE, AUTOPROFI (China);
- Heyner and Alca (Germany);
- Lampa (Italy);
- Energomash and Avtoelektrika (Russia).
But even their cables cannot be called perfect. And, nevertheless, they are the market leaders in terms of price to quality ratio. It is noteworthy that Russian products in a number of parameters surpasses the products of German and Italian manufacturers, while costing several times less.
And here is the anti-rating cables, which is better to bypass:
- “Zavodala”, “START”, NPP “ORION” (Russia);
- King Tools, Smart Power Berkut, Nova Bright, Tiikeri (China);
- AkkuEnergy (Germany).
During the tests, they showed the maximum voltage drop, and some even refused to work due to loss of contact in the first seconds of the start. When buying a starter cord, be sure to ask about the warranty and ask for the cash register receipt. If the product is of poor quality, you will be able to return it within the legal terms.
How to correctly “light” the car
This question may arise at any time, but it becomes especially urgent during the cold season. After all, at low temperatures, even new batteries are discharged much faster. There are a number of nuances that you need to know before you “light” the battery from another battery. In particular, the technical equipment, the procedure, precautions. About all this and not only we will tell in detail. Scheme of cigarette lightering the car.
Algorithm, how to correctly give “cigarette lighter” to the car. The sequence of actions will be as follows:
- Let the engine of the donor car before the procedure to work for about 5 minutes at 2000-3000 rpm. This is done so that the battery is additionally recharged.
- Before “cigarette lightering” turn off the engines, turn off the ignition, as well as all electrical appliances of both cars!
- Connect the ends of the “plus” wire first to the battery of the donor car (from which the “cigarette lighter” is connected), and then to the recipient car.
- Connect the ends of the battery “minus” lead. First to the negative terminal of the donor car battery and then to any metal surface (e.g. engine block) that is stripped of paint or to a protrusion on the car body. However, remember that there is a possibility of sparking at the “minus” at the moment of starting the engine. Therefore, observe fire safety, and “light up” in the open air or in a well-ventilated room. If you can’t find a suitable led, connect the wire to the “minus” of the recipient battery.
- Be sure to observe the polarity! One wire should connect the two pluses and the other should connect the two minuses. If you mix up the polarity, there will be a short circuit, and there is a high probability of failure of all electronics of the car!
- Sit on the steering wheel of the car-recipient and try to start the engine. If the donor car battery is okay and you did everything right, the engine will start without any problems.
- Run the engine at 1500-2000 rpm and let it run for about 5 minutes to build up some battery capacity.
- Disconnect the wires from both batteries in reverse order (that is, first disconnect from the recipient and then from the donor, first “minus” wire and then “plus” wire), pack them, close the hoods of the cars.
If you can’t “light the car” within a few seconds, then try to do the following:
- With the wires connected and the recipient’s engine and ignition turned off, start the donor’s engine.
- Let it run for about 10 minutes at 2000-3000 rpm. This will recharge both batteries.
- Turn off the internal combustion engine, ignition and all electrical appliances of the donor. Repeat the attempt to start the recipient engine.
Thus, correctly “cigarette lighter” the car from another battery is not difficult at all. Now let’s consider a few common mistakes made by inexperienced car owners. We have tried to rank them in order of safety priority.
- “Cigarette-burning” from a car with the engine running.
- Do not turn off the ignition and/or electrical appliances during the “cigarette lightering” process.
- They “light the cigarette” from a battery that has less capacity than their battery has.
- They do not observe the sequence of operations (the algorithm of connection of individual contacts).
- Use low-quality wires (with small cross-sectional area, low-quality contacts on “crocodiles”, fragile insulation).
- Do not adhere to safety rules (including fire safety).
To avoid the appearance of these errors – follow a clear algorithm and you will be able to safely start the engine of your car from another battery.
Cigarette lighter wires with your own hands
Wires for cigarette lighter car must correspond to the high current, which is transmitted by the working generator of the car in good condition. If the cross section or material of the wire is not designed for such a load, the materials themselves are of low quality, their heating and melting will occur.
This can lead to fire and damage not only the wire – can suffer as a donor car, and cigarette lighter from it.
You should know that the minimum allowable cross section of wires for cigarette lighter is 10 mm. Such a wire will withstand a peak load of 200 – 250 A and will help to start a normal passenger car.
Choosing a cable for the wires
It is recommended when making cigarette lighter wires with your own hands to take a copper cable for welding with a cross section of 25 mm. Such a wire will not damage even a load current of 700 amps. In addition to a large cross section, the welding cable has a strong insulation, which will prevent a short circuit with the car body. Wire for cigarette lighter wire with a cross-section of 25 mm. Many cigarette lighter wires sold in the market have a significant drawback. In the cold, the insulation cracks and crumbles, leaving the bare wire little chance of avoiding a short circuit. It is no secret that in most cases, help in the form of a cigarette lighter from another car is in demand exactly in winter, when it is minus temperatures outside.
Having a lower quality than stated, such a wire loses its insulation when uncoiled and becomes unsuitable for safe use. Therefore, when choosing the right cable, pay attention to its outer protection. It should be made of soft rubber that has frost-resistant properties.
The length of the wire is a value that directly affects its resistance. The lower this value, the more reliable and longer the cigarette lighter wire will serve. The length of the cable should be long enough to reach from one car to another. Usually 2 to 2.5 meters is enough.
Choosing the clamps
Making cigarette lighter wires with your own hands, you need to pay special attention to the clamps (crocodiles), with which the wires contact with the battery terminals and the mass of the car. On the quality of the “crocodiles” also depends on the resistance. Preference should be given to clamps that have copper contacts or at least copper coating. Alligator clips for cigarette lighter wires. It is better if the contacts are tucked into an insulated plastic case – less chance of getting a short in the cars wiring. You will need to purchase four clips. Try to make sure they are paired with different colors. That way it is easier not to make a mistake when wiring. When selecting, look for clamps for welding machine grounding – they are more reliable and will withstand a current flow of up to 600 amps.
Assembling cigarette lighter wires
So you have two pieces of wire and four clips of different colors. You’ll need a sharp knife to strip the ends of the wire and some plastic tighteners. Attach the same color clips to one of the wires. Use the wire ties to tighten the wire in the clamp. Repeat this procedure with the other wire. That’s all – now you have your own cigarette lighter wires. Wires for cigarette lighter with his hands ready. With your own hands you have assembled an indispensable accessory for the winter road. It should be noted that high-quality frost-resistant wires cost about 1600 rubles. Assembling cigarette lighter wires, you will spend on average the following amounts:
- Welding cable with a cross section of 25 mm length of 5 meters – 710 rubles;
- Four clips for a total cost of 400 rubles.
In total, your reliable and high quality cigarette lighter wire will cost you 500 rubles cheaper than those offered in car dealers.
After spending a little time, you will be absolutely certain that these wires are reliable and always be able to help if necessary.Now you can not only help yourself in a difficult situation, but also to assist friends or other road users.
Quality car cigarette lighter wires with your own hands
In this post I want to share my experience of self-made high-quality car cigarette lighter leads, capable of starting the car immediately in cold weather, without dancing with tambourine in the form of recharging for half an hour and running from a wound up donor in violation of all rules.
I used to have Chinese car cigarette wires for ignition the car with a dead battery. They were sold under the brand “Phantom”, were supposedly designed for 200A. But in fact it was very seldom possible to start the car from them. If only to charge the battery for about 20-30 minutes and then to start from the battery. In addition, they were freezing and hard to straighten. I had to warm them up before using them.
And recently my battery was dead, I had to start it from my neighbor’s car. The temperature was only -10°C. I started unwinding my wires, and they just burst. The insulation burst. Underneath it I could see that the wires were thick, but they were mostly thick due to the insulation, which was perhaps even too thick. And the copper wire itself is not that thick.
A neighbor suggested the idea that it is better to make such wires yourself. Because the stores mostly sell the same crap.
He suggested a brand of cable that is ideal for cigarette lighter cars – a cable “KG-XL”. It has a rubber insulation, which remains elastic even in severe frost and, of course, multi-wire copper wire, which also provides its flexibility. The stated temperature range of this cable is -40°C to +50°C. This cable (or similar) is used for example in welding machines. So its ability to conduct high currents is good.
There are many variations of this cable on the market with different cross-sectional areas and different numbers of insulated conductors inside the cable. I, of course, wanted a single core cable. Theoretically 10 mm² is already considered pretty good, but I chose 16 mm² to have some reserve. And to be able to choose a longer wire. Usually these wires are about 2 meters long, which is often not long enough to connect them to a donor. An immobilized car can be parked so that you can’t get to it from the front, and when you drive up from the side, you are literally 20-30 cm short. I chose a length of 3 meters. This should be enough for most situations with a margin. I will answer right away to the question what prevents you from making these wires, for example, 5 meters at once – Ohm’s law prevents. U = I*R, where U is the voltage drop when current flows through the conductor. The greater the voltage drop, the greater the current flowing through the conductor, and the greater the resistance. The amperage depends on the starter and we have no control over it. Resistance in turn is directly proportional to the length of the conductor and inversely proportional to its cross-section. That is, it is necessary to find a compromise between the cross-sectional area and the length, so that the voltage drop was within the permissible limits. It will be in any case, the only question is by how much. You can make the wires twice as long, but then you have to make them with twice the cross section to get the same characteristics.
This, by the way, is the reason why many motorists prefer to light the car when it is running, despite the categorical prohibition and warnings in many articles and car manuals. Sometimes they even ask to add engine revolutions of the donor while trying to start the recipient. The majority of articles say to start it from donor with engine turned off. This way there is no risk to burn the electronics, which, in fact, can burn out because when the recipient starts, its generator will also start. And so there will be a single electrical circuit of two cars with two alternators and two voltage regulators, which can start to sort of fight each other.
So, why do they prefer to start the car from a running donor? The thing is that a fully charged car battery gives out 12.6 V, and the voltage on the terminals of a running car is 14.0-14.5 V. Taking into account Chinese wires of poor quality in their bulk, voltage drop in them at a current of 100 A is up to 5-6 volts (here is a test of store wires under load, for example. Moreover, the wires are often also quickly warmed up. Thus, at the switched-off donor 12.6 V minus even 3 V, as at good enough wires, you get 9.6 V – already not enough to start the engine (only if the native battery will recharge and help). With the donor running, 14.0V minus 3V is 11.0V – quite normal for starting even without the battery on the recipient. But there is a risk of burning the electronics, both donor and recipient. In practice I have not encountered it, but I think there is still such a risk.
That’s why I chose 16 mm² cross-section – with reserve, to be able to start from switched off donor and not to risk anyone’s electronics. You know, it would be very inconvenient if a random car owner, who agrees to help on the road, will get hurt himself and will not be able to leave, plus he will get tens of thousands of rubles for repairs. As I understand it, the engine ECU can burn out, not some car stereo.
I bought separately demountable crocodiles with a copper contact plate and circular insulation at a battery store to eliminate the risk of accidental short circuits when you disconnect the wires from the receiver and they are bumping each other. Ideally, I wanted the alligators to have a contact plate on both sides to increase the contact area, but I could not find them. In general, it is not an easy task to find good quality alligators, but to find two-sided ones as well.
As a result, we got wires like on the picture at the beginning of the post. They wind up into a circle of 30 cm in diameter. They weigh about 1.6 kg, so they are pretty heavy.
I packed them in a 30×40 Zip-Lock bag from Galamart to protect them from dust and moisture in the trunk (copper won’t rust, but the spring in alligators is made of steel). I haven’t tested the wires yet, but I think everything should be fine with them.
Now let me say something about the fact that many motorists ask to raise the rpm on a running donor while trying to start the recipient. I would like to say that all of this makes no sense. The alternator delivers as much power as it is willing to consume (within its capabilities, of course). The voltage is fixed at any rpm and is regulated by the voltage regulator right after the alternator. When you turn on the headlights, the current consumption increases, respectively, the generator just begins to rotate harder, taking more kinetic energy from the engine. So when driving with the headlights off, you may notice slightly lower fuel consumption. When the battery is heavily discharged – its internal resistance decreases and it is able to accept more current, when the battery is close to full charge, its resistance increases and it already receives much less current. But the same current will go into the battery both at idle and at 6000.
Finally, a money report. I bought 6 meters of single-core cable KG-XL with a cross section of 16 mm² in ElectroMir at a discount for online payment for 672 rubles. Crocodiles were sold for 150 rubles apiece, 600 for 4 pieces. The total was 1272 rubles.
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