You won't get very far with a faulty or erratic charging system. Slow and sloppy starts and dim headlights are often indications of a flawed system, which can be easily remedied with a few basic components. One of the first steps toward improving your vehicle's charging system is to install a quality battery that will not only successfully start your engine every time but also have enough juice to power additional electrical accessories, ranging from bumper-mounted winches to dash-mounted iPods.
To tackle charging duties in our '97 Jeep Cherokee, we looked to the tried-and-true Optima YellowTop battery. We selected the D34/78 model YellowTop, which offers 750 cold cranking amps at 0 degrees F and 870 cranking amps at 32 degrees F. It's designed as a dual-purpose battery to not only start the engine but also to handle multiple accessory loads. The sealed case and spiral-wound cells make the YellowTop completely spillproof and leakproof and maintenance-free. It also offers excellent vibration resistance and will handle discharge and recharge without losing significant capacity. The deep cycling ability of the Optima YellowTop also makes it great for vehicles that are used seasonally, as it offers a very slow rate of self-discharge.
When dirt and grease build up on the power cables, particularly around the wire and cable connection points, the flow of electrical current is impaired. Flow is also impaired if the power cables are cracked, split, or frayed. In order for our charging system to fully benefit from the new Optima battery, we elected to replace the aged factory cables with something better prepared for the job. The heavy-duty 2/0-gauge power cables from Jeepers and Creepers feature an all-copper core with extra-fine outer strands to maintain flexibility. The outer shell is oil- and solvent-resistant, and the large cable-terminal ends are double-crimped and moisture-sealed using military-spec heat shrink. Offering a heat range of -40 to +194 degrees F, the cables aren't affected by extreme temperatures. The transfer of energy is also improved through use of the heavy-duty power cables and is evidenced in faster starts and brighter headlights.
Although we could have simply installed the Optima battery using the stock power cables, the larger-diameter cables will permit the maximum load of electrical current from the battery to the starter and alternator. The larger the cable, the greater amount of electrical current it can safely carry. Jeepers and Creepers offers heavy-duty power-cable kits for TJ, ZJ, WJ, and XJ Jeeps. Optima batteries are available for any vehicle.