Many people fear this scenario in the cold season. You get into the vehicle in the morning, turn the ignition key, but nothing happens. Anyone who does not have a second mobile stand with a pair of jump start cables at hand seems to be lost. But there is another way. A start-up aid via a special power bank promises independent help against this German fear.
The cold of the winter months in particular is a problem for a car battery. At temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius, this already loses a third of the storage capacity. The engine also faces greater challenges in sub-zero temperatures. The engine oil is then particularly viscous, which requires more energy than normal when the engine is started.
So-called boosters or jump starters are an alternative to starting a vehicle. But that is not the only way to get through the winter reliably with the vehicle. Special chargers are used to supply the car battery with a basic voltage and to charge it. This type of maintenance increases the service life and reliability of a battery in the motor vehicle.
Mobile jump start for the car
What should you pay attention to when choosing a mobile jump starter? A basic requirement for bridging is the necessary basic voltage of 12 volts for cars, sufficient peak current and sufficient battery capacity. 6 volts is usually sufficient for a motorcycle, 24 volts for a truck. The capacity of the battery of the jump start device in mAh (milliampere hours) indicates how much electricity the device can store. The higher the capacity, the more start attempts are possible. Many models use a lithium-ion battery. Lithium-polymer batteries are also used in a Jump Starter.
Gasoline engines with large cubic capacity and especially diesel engines require a lot of power to start. Devices with a peak current of 200 A (amperes) are sufficient for small cars with little cubic capacity. These are suitable for gasoline engines up to 3 liters and diesel engines up to 2 liters. Corresponding power banks are already available for just under 60 euros.
If you want to be on the safe side, choose a jump start device with a power of at least 600 A, especially with a diesel engine. These cost 100 euros or more. the Noco Boost GBX45, which we took a closer look at, has a particularly high peak current of 1250 A. This means that a powerful lithium-ion jump start booster is also suitable for larger car engines. According to the manufacturer, this is sufficient for gasoline engines up to 6.5 liters and diesel engines up to 4 liters.
A portable car battery jump starter in a waterproof housing for rainy weather or snowfall with a certification according to IP65 is recommended. Most models also have an LED light. This ensures sufficient light when connecting the jump starter cables as an LED flashlight. The vehicle jump starter from Bullwing or Black & Decker has an integrated air compressor to inflate the car tires.
Some of the Jump Starters are primarily intended for a lead-acid battery, which limits their use as a power bank. This applies to the Noco Boost GBX45, for example. It is rather a high amperage designed for larger motors and less suitable for charging other devices due to the lack of capacity. However, other boosters also work well via the USB port as a power bank for smartphones or tablet PCs. Micro-USB, USB-C or USB-A are common USB outputs. There are even models that are suitable as a notebook power bank. This is the case with the Dino power pack or the Dino power bank, which have several USB ports.
Before using it for the first time, you should charge the jump starter at home via the micro-USB port or a power supply unit, depending on the model. Depending on the model, this is done using a power supply unit supplied or a USB cable. Jump start cables are usually included in the scope of delivery. The clamp with the red cable connects to the positive pole. The clamp with the black cable is clamped to a ground point in the engine compartment. This can be any conductive metal part or a special connection point. Vehicles with start-stop systems use EGM or EFB batteries. The start-up process is basically the same. However, these types use a battery management system that is located on the negative pole. Here the red cable must be connected to the jump start point.
Then you switch on the jump starter. Drivers should make any settings in advance according to the operating instructions. If the start-up process does not work after three attempts, you should wait a few minutes and then try again. If the vehicle still does not start, this could be a sign of a defect. The number of start attempts is limited and depends on the capacity of the booster. If the engine starts, the car owner can switch off the device. First you remove the black cable at the ground point, then the red cable from the positive pole.
With a good booster, the jump start works even without the help of another vehicle. The ADAC recommends, however, that the start-up solutions be stored at room temperature. Manufacturers like to state that the starting aids work down to double-digit minus degrees. In a test by the ADAC of seven boosters, all but one device no longer worked at sub-zero temperatures. If this is not possible, the booster should be warmed up carefully. Repeated start attempts heat up the jump starter additionally, but in the long run deplete the capacity. Since some products were found negative during the short-circuit test by the ADAC, it is essential to ensure that a short-circuit fuse is available before buying. Caution is required here, especially with non-name devices.
Car battery care
In addition to a mobile jump start booster, a portable charger is recommended, especially in winter. A lead-acid battery can be permanently damaged if it is deeply discharged. This is a good way of maintaining vehicles that are parked a lot or that are only used on short journeys.
These use microprocessor-controlled programs for maintenance, ensure a basic voltage and can thus maintain capacity. The device first checks the charge level, then automatically charges with a suitable current level and switches itself off when the charging process is complete. Anyone who uses an automobile with an automatic start-stop system should find out before buying whether the desired model is suitable for EFB or AGM technology. These usually require a higher end-of-charge voltage than normal lead-acid batteries. The loading then takes place at the external starting point provided for this purpose.
During the discharge process, lead sulphate crystals form on the surface, which lead to coarse-grained deposits and limit the capacity or even die. High-quality models such as the Noco Genius 5 ensure that these deposits regress with an integrated program for reconditioning. Even if the manufacturers often promise this: an already severely damaged lead-acid battery can only be revived to a limited extent. In addition, you should make sure that the device offers automatic protection against short circuits and polarity reversal.
Unlike jump start boosters, these devices require a 230 volt socket. Anyone who has access to a garage with a socket can charge the car battery there after disconnecting it from the vehicle’s electrical circuit. If this is not the case, however, you have to remove the battery from the vehicle for charging and maintenance. If you want to use the basement for this, the ADAC expressly recommends that you ensure good ventilation when charging in closed rooms. When charging a lead-acid battery, gas can escape and an explosive mixture of hydrogen and oxygen forms in the room.
Another option for maintenance is a battery freshener. This is not a charger, but a fresh cell treatment that counteracts the formation of lead sulfate crystals. Car owners permanently connect the so-called battery pulser to the car battery. When charging while driving, the battery freshener attacks the lead sulfate crystals and gradually dissolves them. This process also works with trickle charging with a connected charger.
One way of protecting yourself from the cold in winter is a thermal bag. This ensures that the battery does not get too cold. To do this, you take it out and put it in your pocket. Then you put them back in. In spring, it is advisable to remove the bag again to counteract overheating. Corresponding protective bags are offered by Cartrend and Ferocity, among others.
A mobile start-up solution in the form of a booster can effectively bring an empty battery back to life. This means that the car owner remains independent of the help of another vehicle or the breakdown service. For vehicles with smaller engines, a model from 60 euros with a peak current of 200 A is sufficient. Diesel cars and gasoline engines with a large displacement, on the other hand, require a particularly strong peak current output of at least 600 A. The safe starting aid should definitely have a short-circuit fuse and reverse polarity protection. The trunk is not suitable for transport in winter, as the cold also makes modern lithium-ion batteries a problem in the long run.
A charger is an ideal addition for a longer service life. This supplies the battery with a basic voltage and charges it. This can preserve the service life and performance of the energy carrier. This is particularly useful when a vehicle is parked for a longer period of time or is only on short journeys. However, these devices require an electrical outlet. Anyone who takes out the car battery for charging should definitely do so in a well-ventilated room because of escaping gases.