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More on jump starters

Alert: Lots of Amazon links ahead!

Couple of weeks ago I blogged about jump starters. The ones I’d been looking at were big and clunky — basically lead-acid batteries to kickstart your lead-acid battery.

Until S. placed a comment, I didn’t know about elegant lithium-ion alternatives, some not much bigger than smartphones.

The reason for my interest was that I knew I was soon going to run Old Blue’s battery down. It was inevitable. Around the time we broke down last month, the headlight-alert bell quit. My mechanic thought he fixed it but if so it didn’t stay fixed (he didn’t charge for that, so no complaint). And of course Old Blue hasn’t got an automatic headlight turner-offer. So — while I like to think I’m better, smarter, more diligent, and more on-the-ball than that, I knew it was only a matter of time (what with all this winter daylight driving-with-headlights business) before I left the lights on and conked the battery.

Which I did early last week.

Fortunately I did it at home. Where I have an elderly Schumacher battery charger. Mine’s a lot more … um, vintage than any of these (the usual garage-sale purchase) but Schumacher makes good stuff and mine seems likely to go on forever. So the battery rundown was no more than a minor inconvenience.

But with all the time I spend in the woods beyond AAA’s dim comprehension, and the fact that I’ll soon be making a few Big City trips, having a portable jump starter in my car kit suddenly felt urgent.

I ended up with this Uxcell 600 peak amp model, which had the best features for the price and a larger-than-usual battery capacity.


I really wanted this one — same brand, same peak amps, but with an even bigger battery capacity and more features. But it was going to take a few days longer to get and at that moment the delay didn’t seem bearable. Now I see it’s in stock earlier than expected. Oh well.

Now that I have both a Slime Safety Spair kit and a jump starter in Old Blue’s trunk, I feel more confident. I should be able to handle the two most common car problems without anybody’s help wherever I am. And that’s a good feeling. The jump starter can also, in a power outage or other emergency, charge cellphones, laptops (so they say), and various USB devices without the need to crank up my blessed new inverter-generator.

Of course, for use in the car there’s always that “two is one and one is none” factor. I have a backup compressor (sans Slime) for tire inflating. No backup for the jump starter and no good way of testing it* before some moment of need. Still, one step at a time. It’s how preps get built when you don’t have the resources to plan all at once for the TEOTWAWKI-Carrington-Event-nuclear-winter-asteroid-impact-civil-war-where’s-my-bunker apocalypse.

Like anybody else, I can still get caught flat-footed sometimes. But when I think back to my youth in “civilized” California — sans any form of emergency equipment (no gun, no jumper cables, no water-meter key, no food stores, and certainly no mini-tire-inflator or jump starter (which weren’t even available then)), I feel a hell of a lot more competent and more satisfied with life.


* Wrong! As two Commentariat members quickly informed me (below).


  1. just waiting
    just waiting January 14, 2017 10:23 am


    Test your bath pack before you need it. Turn the lights on let it run down at home.

  2. Willy Tee
    Willy Tee January 14, 2017 10:45 am

    Disconnect your battery, hook the jumper to the cables and see if ol’ blue starts.

  3. Claire
    Claire January 14, 2017 10:48 am

    Ah. Two good ideas I hadn’t thought of. Thanks, Willy Tee and just waiting.

    I think I’ll go with JW’s as the simpler option (even though the idea of deliberately running down my batter seems positively heretical).

  4. Claire
    Claire January 14, 2017 12:26 pm

    I see that some nice (and smart) person just bought multiples of the Slime Safety Spair kit. Whoever you are, you’re going to like that. The compressor (which you can use with or without the Slime) is a good one. Much faster and more powerful than many other small compressors.

    The Slime included in the kit is not aerosol, so it’s not finicky about temperature or prone to failure. It gets blown into the tire by the compressor (if you choose to hook it into the system).

    Only small disadvantage is that replacement bottles of the Slime go for around $15. But when you consider how well the stuff works (you really can go hundreds of miles on a tire repaired with Slime; I’ve done it), that’s probably not a big deal.

    Thank you, anonymous (to me) Amazon buyer. I hope you like those — and also hope you never have to get much use out of them!

  5. Joel
    Joel January 14, 2017 12:56 pm

    Claire, you cannot run down your battery without physically damaging it. Slightly, perhaps, but definitely. I like Willy Tee’s idea much better. (No offense, JW.)

  6. Claire
    Claire January 14, 2017 1:44 pm

    Right you are, Joel. I remember that from my days of tending those damned cursed solar batteries at the Desert Hermitage.

    But … the other day I accidentally left the lights on for about two hours, which was enough to keep the starter from cranking but didn’t actually deplete the battery to any dangerous level. I’ll probably try that again. Disconnecting the battery is definitely a good way to test the system and I may try that also, but I always end up cussing a lot when I have to disconnect and reconnect the battery. So I’ll try the easier way first.

  7. Scott
    Scott January 15, 2017 1:18 pm

    Get a trickle charger for home use, or a charger with a trickle setting (one or three amps). Better to charge it slowly if possible (lead acid car battery, that is). They’re getting more and more out of batteries, now. I have an old gel cell jumpbox I got as a gift 10 years ago that still works just fine, and it spends most of its time in the trunk or garage, at temps from 98 to -14 (Fahrenheit, that is). I want one of the lithium ion packs..the one I was looking at is about the physical size of a Stephen King paperback, with an absolutely phenomenal ampere-hour rating ( I want new toys!). I don’t know about Slime, but some of that fix a flat gunk will foul the valve after a while and you can’t get air in..I was left unimpressed with the stuff (got a plug kit instead).
    Last year I got a new 12 volt compressor to replace the aging one I had. I like it! It fills up my air tank in about five minutes, powered by my old jumpbox.

  8. Claire
    Claire January 15, 2017 2:26 pm

    Scott — Yep. My old Schumacher battery charger has three settings with the lowest being 2 amps. And (thanks to Commentariat member S.) I’ve seen those bigger lithium-ion super-jumpers. If I had a heavy-duty power truck or an RV or somesuch, I’d be wanting one of those, too.

    As to Slime, Fix-a-Flat, etc. — The one and only time I tried using Fix-a-Flat aerosol the temperature was about 40 degrees outside and nothing would come out of that can. I thought it was so idiotic for a supposed emergency-use product to be so sensitive. I can easily see how, even at higher ambient temps, that stuff could get stuck in the valve stem and/or clump up uselessly and fail to reach the leak it’s meant to seal. One thing I like about the Slime that comes in the kit is that it’s not aerosol, and since it’s blown in by the compressor, it has a greater chance of clearing the valve stem completely and spreading itself where it needs to go inside the tire.

  9. MacGregor K Phillips
    MacGregor K Phillips January 18, 2017 1:18 pm

    Just received the 600A 20000mAh Car Jump Starter Battery from Amazon today. Some of the instructions are a little vague, particularly how to turn on the flashing red and blue emergency light. I had to watch one of the videos people upload to Amazon to find out how to get it to turn on. With the unit turned on you have to double tap what they call the key switch to turn on the emergency flasher. I am charging the unit to get it fully charged and will probably test it out in the next couple of days.

  10. Claire
    Claire January 18, 2017 2:16 pm

    Please report back on how it goes, Mac. I also found the “Engrish” instructions on my smaller model a bit confusing. And yes, having both an on-off switch and a “key switch” (really a function switch) threw me at first. I finally figured out how everything works. And everything did work once I used the right combo of on-off and key switches. I haven’t had the guts to try it on the car yet, though.

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