9 Best Jump Starters
A dead car battery can ruin your day. A boost from a friend works, but a portable jump starter gets you back on the road faster.
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Buying a Jump Starter
A portable jump starter lets you revive your dead car battery without calling roadside assistance or someone with jumper cables and a working car battery. Small, powerful and cost effective, jump starters can be especially helpful if your battery dies on a long trip or you forgot to turn off your lights.
Before buying a jump starter, do your homework. Decide which brand, model and features best suit your needs. Don’t just think about the physical size or power output of the jump starter.
- Safety technologies: Reverse polarity protection prevents damage to the the jump starter and vehicle if you connect clamps the wrong way. Look for one with overcharging, over-voltage and overload protection. Spark-proof jump starters reduce the likelihood of igniting gases released from a lead-acid car battery.
- Type: Jump starters come with lithium-ion or lead-acid batteries.
- Lithium-ion batteries are usually rated in Peak amps or starting amps (the amount of current, in amperes, a battery can sustain at 72 F for 30 seconds). Lithium-ion jump starters are smaller, lighter and keep their charge longer (up to a year) than a lead-acid battery.
- Lead-acid batteries are rated in Cold Cranking amps (the amount of current a battery can sustain for 30 seconds at 0 F without dropping under 7.2 volts). Quality lead-acid jump starters use sealed Absorbed Glass Material (AGM) batteries. Unlike a conventional wet-cell battery, AMG batteries suspend the electrolyte mixture (sulfuric acid and distilled water) in fiberglass material. Suspending the electrolyte movement reduces battery maintenance and increases battery life. Although AMG batteries deliver powerful starting amps and run electronics longer, they are much heavier, sensitive to over/under charging and cost significantly more than a comparable lithium-ion jump starter battery.
- Vehicle engine size and type: Depending on your vehicle, the age of your battery and your climate, a jump starter with a 400- to 600-amp rating should be adequate for a four-cylinder engine. However, for vehicles with large V-8 gasoline or diesel engines, or in climate where temperatures regularly fall below 0 F in winter, choose a jump starter with a 1,000- to 2,000-amp or higher rating.
- Optional features: Jump starters can come with handy USB and USB-C charging/power ports, 12-volt power outlets for charging cell phones, or operating air inflators or inverters. Many models incorporate an LED flashlight with different modes (emergency strobe, S-O-S) and even a built-in air compressor.
- Manual override or “boost” feature: Manual override can power a battery even if its voltage is too low to be detected. Use this with caution; boost mode disables all safety features.
- Budget: Handy optional features drive up the price. A decent 500-amp jump starter can cost less than $100, while a 2,000-amp unit can be well over $200. (Remember, a set of quality jumper cables runs more than $50.)
Safety first! A car battery holds sulfuric acid that can cause serious burns. Always wear gloves and eye protection when working around a battery or jump-starting a car. If you come into contact with battery acid, flush with plenty of water and get medical attention immediately.
Note: All jump starters listed here are 12-volt models and are not for use with electric vehicles.
Best Jump Starter for New Cars
Newer cars with four-cylinder engines reduce the amount of power a jump-starter needs to supply. The small, inexpensive Scosche PBJ700-1 can start a four-cylinder, or in an emergency a six-cylinder via the boost feature.
It comes with spark-proof technology and lots of practical features, including two five-volt USB charging ports usually found in more expensive models.
Best Investment Jump Starter
Although lacking a 12-volt power outlet, the GB40 comes with overload and spark-proof technology. Handy extras include a seven-mode LED flashlight and USB-A port. Relatively light at two and-a-half lbs., it’s water-resistant with rubberized shell that protects your vehicle. Oh, and it can hold its charge for up to a year. At about $145, it’s worth every penny.
Most Versatile Jump Starter
Small yet powerful, the 3-1/2-lb. Avapow A58 jump starter does it all. This 4,000-amp jump starter is rated for all gas and up to 10 L diesel engines. It comes with all basic safety technology, dual USB 3.0 ports and a three-mode LED flashlight.
The A58 works on 12-volt hybrids, motorcycles, lawn mowers, boats and snowmobiles, making it an excellent choice when camping or traveling.
Best Jump Starter for Big Vehicles
The 3,00o amp rated Noco Boost Pro GB150, big brother to the Noco Boost Plus GB40 featured earlier, has significantly more power to start a 9.0 L gas or 7.0 L diesel engine, as well as large truck and marine batteries not regularly used during the winter.
It comes with heavy-duty clamps that easily cut through corroded battery terminals. Basic safety features including reverse polarity protection and a built-in voltmeter. It’s expensive, but its ability to power 12-volt devices and hold a charge for up to one year make it attractive to large vehicle owners.
Best Jump Starter Value
Small and light at 2-1/2-lbs., the 2,000 amp rated Nexpow G17 ($90) can revive up to 7.0 L gas or 6.5 L diesel engines. A safety indicator with buzzer and flashing lights alerts you if the battery you’re jumping has excessively high or low voltage, or the cables are reversed.
Useful features included an LED flashlight; USB, USB 3.0 and USB-C ports to quickly charge phones and tablets; and a powerful 12-volt/15-amp outlet. Consider this jump starter for camping and traveling.
Best All Around Jump Starter
If you’re looking for a good mix of power and features and budget isn’t a concern, then a Hulkman Alpha85S is the right choice for you. With 2,000 amps, it can start vehicles with 8.5 L gas or 6.0 L diesel engines up to 60 times without recharging. A preheat feature can start your car at minus 40 F.
The 65-watt charger with over-volt protection can recharge the jumper in 90 minutes. Abundant USB ports, a 12-volt/10-amp power outlet and LED flashlight are included. The easy-to-read 3.3-inch information screen, two-year warranty and lifetime technical support makes this jump starter a winner.
Best Space-Saving Jump Starter
Weighing less than three pounds, the JF.Egwo CS02-200 packs a lot of features into a 5-in. x 6-in. package. With a built-in air compressor and rated at 3,000 amps, this jump starter has the muscle to get a 9.0 L gas or 8.5 L diesel engine, 12-volt RV, lawn tractor or marine battery going.
The 150 pounds per square inch (psi) air compressor comes with an auto-stop feature, digital LCD pressure gauge, and an extension air hose to fill a flat tire, basketball, pool toys and air mattresses. Two USB ports and LED flashlight are handy extras.
Although the CS02-200 lacks spark and reverse polarity protection, its many features and compact size make it worth consideration.
Best Sealed Lead-Acid Battery Jump Starter
Much bigger and costly than its lithium-ion cousins, the Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC770B can fire up almost all passenger and light commercial vehicles.
Used by the pros, the JNC770B can deliver 1,700 amps — exceptional cranking power to start a dead battery. It also features an automatic built-in charger, digital voltmeter, extra-long cables, dual 2.1A USB outputs and a 12-volt power outlet. Note: This product lacks spark and reverse polarity protection.
Best Multi-Purpose Sealed Lead-Acid Battery Jump Starter
The Schumacher SJ1332, rated at 1,200 peak amps, can jump start big V-8 gas engines and up to 6.0 L diesel engines. It also comes with a host of impressive multi-use features, including a handy built-in 150-psi air compressor that can fill a flat tire, air couch, bouncy house and holiday lawn decorations.
A built-in 12-volt inverter powers two 120-volt/10-amp power supplies that can run a small LED TV or video game console, plus charge a laptop or tablet. The USB port, LED work light and digital display showing the voltage of vehicle battery being jumped come in handy. The SJ1332 also comes with reverse hook-up protection.