Car batteries lose energy and resilience over time. That can be a problem when you're planning a long road trip. The

Xtreme Charge

, a lightweight (about 3 pounds), 71/2-by-31/2-by-2-inch-thick electric device, is designed to keep car batteries healthy and recharge those that need a boost.

Just plug the 6-foot AC cord into any wall outlet, and attach the 6-foot charging line's red- and black-coded clips to the corresponding terminals on your car battery. (Optional 25-foot extension lead provides extra reach.) Once connected, blinking lights track the charging, from no charge to 100 percent charged, and even indicate when the battery is a goner.

Charging a dead battery could take 24 hours, so the device is not meant to replace jumper cables.

Works with any 12-volt lead acid battery, including boat and motorcycle batteries.

Xtreme Charge is $99.95; 25-foot extension lead is $9.75, at


; 1-888-287-9314.

- Judi Dash