AutoZone Recalls 140,000 Booster Cables

AutoZone is recalling 140,000 faulty Valucraft booster cables because the clamps were assembled incorrectly, “resulting in reverse polarity and causing an electrical shock and explosion hazard,” according to the CPSC. The official statement says that “AutoZone has received reports of four incidents of reverse polarity that resulted in minor property damage.”

The cables were sold at AutoZone stores nationwide and on its Web site from June 2007 through October 2007 for between $12 and $20.

The recall includes Valucraft eight gauge and ten gauge booster cables, which are orange and have “8GA” or “10GA” printed on them.

Consumers should stop using the cables immediately and return them to any AutoZone store for a full refund or a free replacement, the agency said.

“AutoZone recalls cables for electrical hazard” [Reuters]
Official recall page [AutoZone]

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  1. forgottenpassword says:

    So… the red clamps were connected to the black ones? YOW!!!!

  2. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Minor property damage = Frying your car’s electrical system. Not good!

  3. Parting says:

    ”and explosion hazard”

    Maybe I should give these as a gift for Christmas. Just have to think who do I hate that much?
    On the second hand, I’ll pass…

    Gosh, how a company could screw up? It’s pretty difficult to screw up polarity and not notice until these are sold. Does the manufacturer uses blind people? Or it’s another ”sloppy production made in China” case?

    In the worst case scenario, someone could get killed. Companies should be penalized every time they screw up like this.

  4. @chouchou: I doubt someone was pulling every set and following the wire from lead to lead. The factory probably just checks for continuity, and not polarity.

    This is why I’m contemplating installing a system like tow truck drivers have where there are wires connected to your battery that lead to a plug on the bumper, and the plug only fits one way when you attach the other end that has the clamps. No hood popping, no wrong side of the car, etc., just plug and play.

  5. I am surprised they aren’t being recalled because children may wrap them around their neck and not be able to breathe. Now THAT’S a serious concern.

  6. CaptainConsumer says:

    Like Marty McFly with the big amplifier at the beginning of Back to the Future reverse polarity?

  7. Oshawapilot says:

    I’ve got at least 2 people (after a crappy day at work) to whom I’d love to gift a set of these to for Christmas.

  8. EtherealStrife says:

    But was the polarity of the neutron flow reversed?

  9. And all the Internets was like, “WTF, mate? How hard is it to make the red go to red and the black go to black?”

  10. timmus says:

    My auto mechanic is 70 years old and has an impeccable reputation in my town. Interestingly he swears up and down that the parts at AutoZone are mostly garbage. I guess I’m beginning to see what he means, as AutoZone is probably so big that they buy only from the manufacturers who can manufacture for next to nothing, like Wal-Mart.

  11. erockO says:

    you get what you pay for… we have 100 dollar sets of jumper cables at work that can give you enough boost in a matter of seconds and are constructed to last until the day I die. Jumper cables are not something I would want to spend a few dollars on anyway. If I’m stranded, I want to know for sure that I can get my truck running :)

  12. num1skeptic says:

    how “shocking”.

  13. num1skeptic says:

    @erockO: $100? why not just buy a jump box.

  14. Tank says:

    unless the $100 set comes with a little guy to jump your car for you, there’s no reason to spend that kind of cash. wires & clamps are wires & clamps.

    apparently the schematic was just a little too complicated for the assemblers, or maybe the assembly instructions were in spanish…

  15. allirob says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: The factory probably just checks for continuity, and not polarity.

    Are you saying that they possibly just check to make sure that power flows from one clamp to the other? Because that would tend to indicate an issue at some point when they got continuity from a black/red combo…it would be useless to check continuity prior on the cables to installing the clamps and not after as they are part of the circuit and could cause a break if installed incorrectly with a bad crimp or somethng too. Just sayin’…maybe their processes are to blame at that point…

  16. ColoradoShark says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: To get this right you don’t actually follow the wire from end to end. You get a pair of wires that are bonded together and there is a stripe or molding on one of the wires. Then you always put the red one on the marked wire.
    You can see this by looking at any two wire lamp cord you have in your hose. One side will be ribbed. Ribbing is most common as once it is designed into the mold there is no extra cost.

  17. @ColoradoShark: Expecting high level thought processes like checking for stripes and ribbing on wire from the same people who put Roofies in kids toys and poison in dog food is a pretty tall order.

    @allirob: If they are checked by hand, or even by the machine itself, they prob test both clamps at the same time. It would slow it down to do each individually. And likely if it was done by machine, there was probably no way to ensure the proper color was attached at each end. I would think they dump a box of red handles into bin A and black into B,and the machine does the rest. Maybe they hired a color blind inspector? Can you discriminate against color blind people in hiring?

  18. @Tank: Actually, they’re not. The kind of wire, as well as the gauge, the coating, the length, and the kind of clamps can vary from the cheap models. All of these factors will matter on how much power the cables can handle and how long they will last.

    I spent ~$25 on sale for a set of cables, and they are worth it. They’re thick, but the coating is rubberized, so it’s pliable. The clamps are made from heavy gauge copper, so they grip tight, and transfer power well. It’s long enough to be able to jump a average car from behind, so I don’t have to pull alongside to get or give a jump. Cheaper models have stiff wire(especially in the cold), and tend to fall off the battery terminals, which can cause shorts.

    As I said before, I am thinking of making a permanent mount on my bumper, kind of like these, which will make it even easier.

  19. Zombietime says:

    Yes you can discriminate against color blind people if the job requires color coded objects to be accurately chosen and placed. You can imagine the hilarity if color blind people are allowed to assemble through hole, color coded resistors on circuit boards.

  20. bigat says:

    Well most people don’t realize that in china, the people who are making our products are typically children ages 10-15yr olds. I can’t imagine that children have the desire to understand let alone know the importance of jumper cables.

  21. XianZomby says:

    I use a set of “Pear” jumper cables. I paid $15,000 dollars for them. But the clamps are gold plated. They come with a black velvet bag.

    And they’re magic.

  22. econobiker says:

    @num1skeptic:

    no, Chinese vendor exclaimed: “row shockring”