Thursday June 7, 2007

The going-rate for a jump start

here's my new battery pretending to get a jump

A couple of weeks ago I was left needing a jump-start in front of my apartment on South Beach. I don’t have jumper cables anymore. I asked a few people, and they were all very sympathetic but nobody has jumper cables anymore, so I marched down to a busier street to find a cab (cabbies will sometimes jump you, but they charge). Against all odds, I spotted a tow-truck from one of the two great towing companies we have down here before a cab. I flagged him down. How much for a jump?

“If you’d called the station and they dispatched me, it would have been $75, that’s how much we’re supposed to charge,” he said. “I’ll do it for twenty bucks.” And sure enough.; I got a ride the two blocks back to my car, and in another minute I was on my way.

Reflecting on this, the $20 seems like a perfectly reasonable and appropriate fee, consider the inconvenience caused the jumper and the benefit to the jumpee. And so I propose that the $20 be formalized as the informal going rate for a jump with someone else’s cables. Henceforth, if somebody gives you a jump with their jumper cables, hand them a twenty. If it’s a private citizen, they’ll be grateful, and the price is commensurate with the help they afforded you. If a cabbie asks you for $40 for a jump, wave an Andrew Jackson in his face, proclaim loudly, “I’ve got twenty bucks,” and watch him melt. On the other hand, if someone gives you a jump and you’ve used your own cables, I say all they get is a friendly handshake and a sincere thank-you. After all, this is still a society, and we’re all helping each other out here.

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  1. I was there    Thu Jun 7, 02:39 PM #  

    My dead battery story occured last weekend in front of Whole Foods in Aventura. I was with my wife and two children (one of which is a 1 year old hungry baby girl.)

    Happily I spot a big Miami-Dade fire engine rescue truck and think I’m saved…I go into the store and with a humble smile I approach one of the rescue unit personel and explain how my battery is dead and I have a baby who is very cranky. She approaches the Lieutenient (sp?) and he says “sure no problem we have a jumper on the truck”. I go out to the Truck and the driver, who was on his cell phone and looked bothered said NO we cannot help you.

    Boy was I pissed.

    Turns out I was parked next to a car that had cables and a friendly guy who jumped our battery with a smile.

    If I saw your post last week I may have offered money. He settled for a handshake and the satisfaction of knowing he helped a family out of a jam.Then the sour cell phone talking rescue driver walked over to help close the hood of my car. I felt like running him over.

    During this time my wife went into Target and bought a $60 battery jumper unit to keep in the car.

    When traveling with kids its important to be prepared.

    Regarding the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Unit, I thought this is my tax dollars at work!

    good grief.

  2. Rob    Thu Jun 7, 08:19 PM #  

    Next time you need a jump (or help in general) look for someone driving a truck or Jeep setup for off-road driving. Off-roadies are the Boy Scouts of the driving world. When I owned a Wrangler, in addition to jumper cables, I had a tow winch, tow cables, first aid kit, flares, flash light, blankets, fire extinguisher, and a bunch of other stuff that I may need during an off-road excursion.

    Off-roadies are equipped and generally glad to help.

  3. dreaming    Fri Jun 8, 03:44 PM #  

    you dont really think that tow truck predator turned the $20 over to his boss, do you? it went in his pocket …

  4. RoadWarrior    Fri Jun 8, 04:09 PM #  

    I ended up buying jumper cables after being stranded without them. Now I just keep them wrapped up inside the trunk.

    If you have credit cards, chances are one of them offers free roadside assistance as a benefit. Or get AAA.

  5. alesh    Fri Jun 8, 04:21 PM #  

    AAA is a pain in my ass. When I had it, every time I called them I’d end up waiting 90 minutes in the hot sun next to by car. If their towing service included a little more then 5 miles without having to upgrade to AAA+ it’d be worth it, but otherwise it’s crap.

  6. Pedro Talavera    Sat Jun 16, 07:31 PM #  

    How ignorant people are.$20.00 for a jump start?
    I suggest you all to do some research about this subject.Read your owners manual for a start. And worriying if the guy put the money in his pocket? How pitifull.The tow truck guy said if you called the gas station they will charge you $70.00 to go help you didn’t he?.Look the fire man probably knew that jumping cars is not a game, and he wanted to stay away from being sued.You can do more damage than good if you do the jumping the wrong way. having a portable booster is one of the best ideas..And the coment about Jeep people being road helpers…very funny. Most of these guys don’t even know what a battery is.They drive a Jeep for the coolnes of it, the image.
    Go to for an informative article on the subject. Information and knowledge is power. get it!.

  7. j-j    Sun Jun 17, 01:14 PM #  

    gee, thanks Pedro…you have a lot information

  8. alesh    Sun Jun 17, 02:03 PM #  

    Bullcrap. I hate it when people make jumping a car sound like rocket science. As long as you don’t short your car (ie never let the other side of a positive wire touch any metal part of the car) you’re fine. Connect the positive poles of the two batteries, then connect the two negative poles (better yet, on the dead car connect the negative cable to the engine block, though I have no idea why this is considered better), and you’re good to go. Every single jumper cable sold has the directions attached to it. Everything else (“Make sure both cars are close enough for cables to reach”?!) is common sense.

    The more difficult part when your car doesn’t start is figuring out if it’s the starter, the battery connections, the battery, or the alternator. In my case I had good reason to believe that the battery was bad and sure enough I was right $140 (!) later, everything is groovy.

  9. Pedro Talavera    Mon Jun 18, 12:12 AM #  

    Alesh the info is there for you to read for free. If you think is crap, what can I do. You will crap when you damage yours or someone alternator (Or more) and they or you have to spend big bucks for it…But what I want to help people prevent is they getting injured.

  10. Pedro Talavera    Mon Jun 18, 12:14 AM #  

    You are welcome J-J.

  11. alesh    Mon Jun 18, 12:21 AM #  

    Pedro~ I understand you need to drive traffic to your website to make a living. That’s part of why run google ads on this site — feel free to click Google logo and place some ads. In the meantime, I’ll let you know that using my comments to spread self-serving scare stories is frowned upon (one day I’ll have formal comment guidelines and I’ll delete stuff like this without a second thought). Crossing the street is dangerous too, but with common sense many of us have managed to do it without needing specialized equipment.

  12. j-j    Mon Jun 18, 09:54 AM #  

    btw Pedro: I was being sarcastic,you do have a lot of info…of the unusefull kind!

  13. Pedro Talavera    Mon Jun 18, 10:22 AM #  

    Alesh I could’t care less what you do. I have more than I can handle to work with. Surely I don’t need you as a customer.I have the feeling you think you know more than the next guy and also are a cheap person.You are the kind of person who sees only what you consider to be bad. I do like to help people.

  14. Pedro Talavera    Mon Jun 18, 10:23 AM #  

    J-J, you’re still welcome…

  15. alesh    Mon Jun 18, 10:53 AM #  

    “I have the feeling you think you know more than the next guy”

    Hey dude, I have a comments section where people correct me and disagree with me at will. (Of which, btw, I usually delete comments that are ads disguised as information, and yours are just barely squeaked by.)

    And if you’re going to post any more, you might want to re-read and clarify what you’re trying to say in #6, because it is not, strictly speaking, coherent.

    As an aside — does anyone know what happens if you connect a battery booster pack to a battery backwards?

  16. Rick    Mon Jun 18, 05:38 PM #  

    AAA is a pain in my ass. When I had it, every time I called them I’d end up waiting 90 minutes in the hot sun next to by car.

    So, then, Alesh, the alternative, especially w/o carrying around jumper cables, is to wander around town, possibly in an unfriendly neighborhood, in the hot sun hitting up strangers up for jumper cables and a jump. Sounds sooooooo much better than making a call from a cell phone and chilling out, if you’re lucky, in air conditioning or some shade. Whatever.

    I have the feeling you think you know more than the next guy…

    Pedro, you don’t know the half of it, man.


  17. alesh    Mon Jun 18, 05:45 PM #  

    The alternative is to have the cables. When I had them, I never had a problem getting a jump. And now I’ve got ‘em again. It’s better in the sense that it’s much faster, it’s free, and you meet a real person instead of somebody who’s job it is to drive around giving people jumps.

    Noted without comment: “possibly in an unfriendly neighborhood”.

  18. Rick    Mon Jun 18, 07:24 PM #  

    Noted without comment: “possibly in an unfriendly neighborhood”.

    Why? Are you going to want to walk around with your jumper cables asking people to pop their hoods for you in every neighborhood in Miami, Alesh? Or Broward? Or Palm Beach, for that matter?

    No, I know exactly where you were going with that comment. Why don’t you just say it?

    Oh, and it isn’t free.

    Henceforth, if somebody gives you a jump with their jumper cables, hand them a twenty.

    Now you’re backing out on your own advice? Shame, shame.

  19. j-j    Mon Jun 18, 07:37 PM #  

    hahaha you two: rick and alseh are loco…that’s why I love your websites. No one else I argues about shit simple like this?

  20. alesh    Mon Jun 18, 07:40 PM #  

    Now you’re backing out on your own advice?

    Oops: reading comprehension failure! Double check your work and see if you can spot where you dropped the ball.

    As for the “unfriendly neighborhood” comment, I’m the one who’s confused. Why don’t YOU explain what you meant by it. As far as I can tell, PEOPLE are friendly or unfriendly, not neighborhoods.

    J-J~ I'd think we're in on the fun here. Or maybe I should speak for myself . . .

  21. Pedro Talavera    Mon Jun 18, 08:10 PM #  

    I give up.I let you sort this out for your selves.The info is there for people to read.The internet is full of it. Now, what you do with it is your choice. As I said, having a portable booster will save you lots of trouble. If you like to help others, you won’t damage your car.If you are in a “unknown” neighborhood then you can ussualy get the car running prety quick.
    Connecting the booster or cables backwards can be dangerous (expolding battery) or can render one or both the cars not useable (you can burn fuses).There are cables that are self polarizing that prevents you connecting them wrong.Someone mentioned car repair or car boosting is not rocket science…Not exactly, but it isn’t something to play with either.

  22. Pedro Talavera    Mon Jun 18, 08:15 PM #  

    Alesh my name is Pedro, not dude. If you think my comment in number 6 wasn’t coherent I don’t know what to say. I think you are the only one here that didn’t understand it.

  23. alesh    Mon Jun 18, 09:16 PM #  

    Pedro~ The internet is full of it, allright. If you can do the same damage to your car with a power booster as with the jumper cables then as far as I’m concerned we’re back to square one: don’t short the car and you’re fine. Personally, I prefer to rely on my common sense rather then assume everything has to be left to experts.

  24. Rick    Mon Jun 18, 11:15 PM #  

    And I-95 isn’t a dangerous highway, it’s the drivers that are dangerous.

    Listen, do me a favor and spend less time philosophizing and more time bringing us great posts about batteries, cars, hand shakes and jumper cables. It seems that’s your area of expertise.


  25. alesh    Tue Jun 19, 01:38 AM #  

    AHA! Rick’s got NOTHING. (1) Refuses to acknowledge calling “Shame, shame” and accusing me of hypocrisy because he missed what I was saying, and (2) refuses to explain what he means by “unfriendly neighborhood.”

    The record will so indicate.


  26. Rick    Tue Jun 19, 07:27 AM #  

    (1)Henceforth, if somebody gives you a jump with their jumper cables, hand them a twenty.

    (2)And I-95 isn’t a dangerous highway, it’s the drivers that are dangerous.

    I love it when I can cut and past my entire response.


  27. alesh    Tue Jun 19, 07:37 AM #  

    #2 doesn’t explain jack shit. (Doesn’t even mean anything, for that matter.)

    #1, you should be ashamed: you failed the reading comprehension test, even after you were instructed to go back and re-read. Look at the very line you’re quoting. Here, I’ll add some emphasis and maybe help you figure it out (oh, actually it was even emphasized in the original): “Henceforth, if somebody gives you a jump with their jumper cables, hand them a twenty.” Still confused? A little later: “someone gives you a jump and you’ve used your own cables, I say all they get is a friendly handshake and a sincere thank-you.” That's the original post. And in my comment #17: “The alternative is to have the cables . . . And now I’ve got ‘em again.”

    Hmm . . . right under your nose. Next time someone tells you you’re wrong, Rick, you might do well to allow for the possibility that it’s true.

    “Listen, do me a favor and spend less time philosophizing and more time bringing us great posts about [stupid criminals, whatever LOL thing you found on the internet, and crappy 80s rock]. It seems that’s [sic] your area of expertise.”

  28. Manola Blablablanik    Tue Jun 19, 10:21 AM #  

    Holy Jumper Cables! I don’t want any of you guys anywhere near my battery operated sex toys! Go away!

  29. Tere    Tue Jun 19, 01:12 PM #  

    Oh my hell.

  30. j-j    Tue Jun 19, 01:15 PM #  

    hahaha you guys broke the goofy metter on this one:-)

  31. Steve    Tue Jun 19, 02:38 PM #  

    Sorry I’m late — just got here. Seems my car broke down so I tried hooking up my jumper cables to Alesh’s blogroll and…...nothing happened. Dadburnit.

  32. Pedro Talavera    Tue Jun 19, 09:23 PM #  

    Alesh. I wonder if you ever need medical care,let’s say open heart surgery. Will you want a nurse with a lot of common sense or you will want an expert to take care of you.There are things that can be solved with common sense or some intuition. But cars today as I said before have changed dramatically. I am not trying to sell you all anything. I came here by chance while reserching about automotive stuff. I tought I could share some of my knowledge with you all. Facts and knowledge are a good thing. But suposing and common sense can be dangerous when it comes to cars. I preffer to study and ask others that know more than me instead of taking a chance. Specially if my family or my life is at risk.

  33. alesh    Tue Jun 19, 09:46 PM #  

    Jump-starting a car is like open-heart surgery. Thank you for making your views perfectly clear, Pedro.

    I would encourage anyone who hold this position to urgently seek a clue. As a public service, I’ll provide this as a guide:

    Things which should be left to experts:

    > Open-heart surgery
    > Landing a plane
    > C++
    > Political assassinations
    > Wine-making
    > DNA analysis
    > Building a rocket-car

    Things which anyone can do for themselves with some common sense and casual interest:

    > Jump-starting a car
    > Booking a flight
    > Photography
    > Cocktail-mixing
    > Deciding which pain-reliever works best for you
    > Remodeling a kitchen

    . . . wow that was fun. Maybe I’ll expand this list later. (or — anyone?)

  34. Steve    Wed Jun 20, 09:24 AM #  

    Alesh: Great concept, great list. May I add?

    Things best left to experts:
    > having babies
    > walking a tightrope over Niagra Falls
    > placing comments on a blog

    Things people can do fot themselves (etc)
    > masturbate
    > jumping rope
    > blogging

    This is fun. Maybe set up an entire new page where people can add in?

  35. Manny's Right Testicle    Wed Jun 20, 06:19 PM #  

    Alesh, you got lucky. I tried handing $20 to a hooker and she clocked me with her purse.

  36. Dayngr    Wed Jun 20, 06:43 PM #  

    “Crossing the street is dangerous too, but with common sense many of us have managed to do it without needing specialized equipment.”

    That was the best!

  37. Pedro Talavera    Wed Jun 20, 08:47 PM #  

    You are righ Alesh jumping a car is not something really difficult as I mentioned on my article. The secret is to know what to do to make a safe jump. And after, you take a chance and perform a jumping. There are risks just as anything on life.You like twisting words, I give you that.The difficult thing is knowing why your battery went bad on the first place. As you may know todays cars are not the same as say 20, 30 years ago.They indeed have changed.And really common sense won’t really help you much when diagnosing a 30 to 40 thousand dollar car with about 30 computers on board. No I am no lying Alesh, they do have about that many.The reasons a battery went bad can be as simple as someone leaving the lights on to needing an alternator etc.I am one for doing things myself and only consulting an expert when I really need one.Some people are more outgoing and venture to mechanical things. Some require some assistance. I for one always call my computer friend expert when my computer gives me trouble. I can do small things, but I have dome more harm than good sometimes trying to go further than my knowledge permits me.

  38. alesh    Thu Jun 21, 01:09 AM #  

    Oh, for the record, I AM a tight-wad, but that’s NOT why I don’t have AAA. I had it for a couple of years. I ditched them because it’s just not worth it for me. Their 5-mile towing doesn’t get me to my mechanic, their roadside assistance takes forever to come, and I don’t use their other services. All they were doing was taking my money for some dubious claims to “peace of mind.” Trust me — my mind is at greater peace when I ditch superfluous services (especially ones that use some of my money for dubious lobbying).

    Pedro~ OK we agree now. I’d suspected the battery because it died a couple of weeks prior from me leaving the cabin dome light on overnight, which a battery shouldn’t do (turns out it was 8 years old!). My claim to fame in the car-repair domain is that I disassembled two broken alternators and made one good one out of them. This is maybe 8 years ago on an 1886 Sunbird. Sometime in the next few weeks I plan to replace the muffler on my 318ti myself (wish me luck).

    I will grant you that you can fry your alternator or other components if you botch a jump, and there are plenty of people who have no business attempting it. And yes, fixing cars ain’t what it used to be 30 years ago.

    Still, my general feeling is that people are better served by an internal locust of control and a feeling that they can do what needs to be done then by the opposite. There isn’t a mechanic alive who didn’t learn by making a few mistakes (right??), and there are worse things that could happen then frying an alternator.

  39. Pedro Talavera    Thu Jun 21, 06:41 PM #  

    I see a new and improved Alesh. One I can relate to.You have proved to me that you have some konwledge about cars. You must have broken some kind of record, 8 years on a battery? are you sure?
    Yes, all mechanics learn from making mistakes of course, just as any other endeavor in life.
    Many of my customers have AAA gold. They are happy with it. They have coverage even if they are in another car. Of course I don’t need it…I keep my cars running well. They very rare brake.

  40. Fred Flintstone    Thu Jun 21, 10:13 PM #  

    They very rare brake.

    Pedro, that was very funny even if, as I suspect, it wasn’t intentional. I had a car like that for years myself.

  41. Pedro Talavera    Fri Jun 22, 02:42 PM #  

    He he he..I saw you the other day Fred. In South beach. How do you manage to drive like that with your bare feet?