Which jump starter is best?
Anyone who owns a vehicle has experienced a dead battery at one point in time. While it may only be a minor inconvenience if you don’t have anywhere to be and there’s a helpful bystander around who doesn’t mind giving you a jump, it can be a much bigger issue if either of those factors don’t hold true.
Jump starters allow you to get moving if you have a dead battery so you aren’t left relying on the kindness of strangers. Most, like the NOCO Boost Pro GB150, for example, are small and easily portable so you can leave them under your seat or in the trunk. This model also features a USB port for charging other devices and has a built-in flashlight.
What to know before you buy a jump starter
Peak vs. cranking amperage
The first spec you see when looking at most jump starters is the peak amperage. It’s common to be misled by this and simply assume that whichever model offers the highest peak amperage will be the most powerful and better able to handle the demands of larger vehicles. However, this spec is actually less important than the cranking amperage.
Peak amperage refers to the maximum amount of power a jump starter can discharge for a very short burst of time, often just a fraction of a second. Cranking amperage is the amount of power it can discharge consistently over a longer period. The latter is more important, since most vehicles won’t start in a fraction of a second but instead take a few seconds to turn over. Because of this, you should place greater priority on which jump starter offers a cranking amperage higher than your needs rather than a peak amperage.
Keeping it charged
The purpose of a jump starter is to help you start your vehicle when you’re stuck somewhere due to a dead battery. The last thing you need is to reach for your jump starter only to find out that it, too, is out of juice. This happens more often than you might think because many people simply forget to periodically take their jump starter out of their vehicle to recharge it. Like pretty much all batteries, jump starters can slowly lose their charge over time. To ensure you never wind up in this situation, it’s recommended to plug your jump starter in to recharge at least once every 2-3 months.
What to look for in a quality jump starter
Many people may find trying to determine how much amperage their vehicle needs intimidating. Thankfully, most jump starter manufacturers simplify your decision by providing recommended engine compatibility. This is specified in both engine size and type. Gasoline engines don’t need as many cranking amps as diesel engines.
Every jump starter comes with attached cables that you hook up to the battery to start your vehicle. Longer cables make it easier to hook up the jump starter to your battery without having to worry about placing it in an awkward spot. The downside of longer cables is they add more weight and bulk to the jump starter.
Many jump starters feature USB ports, essentially turning them into portable chargers for smartphones and other devices.
You never know when you’ll wind up with a dead battery. If that happens at night, you’ll be happy to have a jump starter with a built-in flashlight so you can clearly see what you’re doing under the hood.
The most important thing when buying a jump starter is to choose one powerful enough for your vehicle. After that, you may want to consider its overall size and weight for ease of storage and use. Smaller jump starters don’t take up as much space in your vehicle and are easier to hide out of sight. Likewise, ones that are lightweight are easier to manage. You may also want to look for a model that comes with a case to keep everything nice and neat between uses.
How much you can expect to spend on a jump starter
Portable jump starters can cost anywhere from $50-$300, depending on their power and features.
Jump starter FAQ
Can I damage my vehicle by using a jump starter that’s too powerful?
A. No. Jump starters automatically discharge the right amount of power based on your battery. It’s always preferable to have more power than you need versus not enough.
Can I damage my car if I hook up my jumper cables incorrectly?
A. Hooking up jumper cables backwards can potentially damage a vehicle. However, these days, most vehicles and jump starters have several features, including fuses and reverse polarity protection, that prevent any damage from occurring if you accidentally make this mistake.
What’s the best jump starter to buy?
Top jump starter
What you need to know: This capable jump starter offers more than enough power to start large vehicles with gasoline engines up to 9 liters and diesel engines up to 7 liters.
What you’ll love: It can provide more than 40 jump starts on a single charge. Also, its integrated flashlight has a strobe mode in case you need to attract attention in an emergency situation.
What you should consider: It takes more than 24 hours to fully charge and doesn’t come with a hard storage case.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top jump starter for the money
What you need to know: A budget-friendly option that’s almost compact enough to fit in the palm of your hand, this Loftek jump starter is an ideal choice for small vehicles that don’t have a lot of storage room to spare.
What you’ll love: It takes less than 10 hours for it to fully charge, and it has a USB port for connecting smartphones and other devices. The included case keeps it well-protected between uses.
What you should consider: The battery discharges itself quickly, so you’ll need to remember to recharge it regularly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
DeWalt DXAEJ14 Digital Portable Power Station Jump Starter
What you need to know: Though it’s larger than many other options, the DeWalt DXAEJ14 is both a jump starter and an air compressor.
What you’ll love: Its rugged build can withstand plenty of abuse. Plus, it features onboard storage for the air hose and jumper cables to keep everything nice and organized.
What you should consider: It weighs nearly 20 pounds and is notably bulkier than many other models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.