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Brainy battery tenders

Computer chip technology can save dying vehicle batteries or give a goof-proof jump.

Everyone knows the dangers in battery charging. Now there are two new tools - both with computer chip technology - that can help alleviate some of the safety i ssues and make battery maintenance easier.

Negative? Positive? Who cares? With the new Jump Star jumper cables, you don't need to worry if you've got your positives and negatives right: Its four clamps can be attached to either post on a battery. The cables also feature a built-in surge/spike protector, so there is no need for a ground.

"As soon as the cables are attached to the good battery, the unit's microprocessor [a control module located between both sets of cables] begins to check each cable," says Duff Taylor, sales manager, Storm Enterprises. "It then automatically corrects polarity in each of the clamps."

Flashing LED lights indicate a good hookup. The system then continues to check each connection every second while it's charging. Retail price: $140; Internet price: $100. Contact Storm Enterprises, Dept. FIN, 4515 S. 16th St., Fort Smith, AR 72901, 800/748-6369, www.stormstuff.com.

Mind your battery. VDC Electronics claims its BatteryMinder is the only one of its kind on the market.

"There are battery chargers, battery maintainers and battery desulfurizers," says William T. Woods, vice president, marketing. "But there are none that do it all."

The unit plugs into a standard AC wall outlet, and with its 12-ft.-long cord, it attaches to a battery with quick-connect clips (ring terminals are used for permanent long-term maintenance). While it keeps the battery charged, it desulfurizes crystallized sulfuric acid, generating a high-frequency electrical pulse that breaks down the crystals.

"One unit can charge up to four batteries as long as they are the same type; size or brand doesn't matter," Woods adds. He claims that it does not overcharge, nor will it over-desulfurize. Price: $60 plus shipping. Contact VDC Electronics, Dept. FIN, Box 5537, Englewood, NJ 07631, 800/379-5579.

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