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These Are the Jump Starters That’ll Get You out of a Pickle

You can’t always count on the kindness of strangers.

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BYHank O'Hop, Mike Bumbeck/ LAST UPDATED ON September 6, 2022

A jump-starter doesn't replace a battery charger. It also doesn't remove the need to replace your car battery from time to time. It is an incredibly handy tool, however, that might save you from calling roadside services or depending on the kindness of strangers. The first time you add one of these to your collection, you're going to feel almost like you've entered a cheat code due to the amount of time and frustration it'll save you. That is, as long as you pick the right model. jump-starters are nothing new, and there are equally as many duds as there are home runs out there. Luckily, we have found several jump-starters that are worth your consideration.

Best Overall

Noco Boost Plus GB40

Summary
A rugged, fully automatic portable jump-starter with consistent performance and built-in safety measures that get the job done.
Pros
  • Works consistently
  • Perfect for most car owners
  • Heavy-duty jumper cables are better than most
Cons
  • Poorly made storage bag
  • Fewer additional power ports than most
Best Value

Schumacher SC1281

Summary
Full of features, this portable jump-starter and battery pack is the right combination of quality, versatility, performance, and cost.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • More than enough power for the average motorist
  • Plentiful additional ports/functions
Cons
  • Clumsy safety protection box
  • Poorly placed flashlight
Honorable Mention

Audew Portable Jump-Starter

Summary
This affordable unit is powerful enough for most applications and comes packed with features.
Pros
  • Affordable 
  • Surprising performance for price 
  • Plenty of additional ports/functions
Cons
  • Relatively low durability 
  • Bulky protection box on cables
These Are the Jump Starters That’ll Get You out of a Pickle

Our Methodology

Quite a few factors influence the selection of jump-starters on our list. However, one thing that's been left off the table is commercial demand. While hunting for jump-starters, it was clear that most people aren't after something you might find in a professional shop. That's why there aren't heavy-duty options on the list or ones that jump multiple vehicles. Most of these are designed to keep in the vehicle with you for emergencies.

The research comes from a few different places. Some of these chargers were subjected to hands-on testing or are models our team has personal experience with. Otherwise, I made sure to stick to our usual research routine to ensure anything on this list is worthy of your time and money. 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Portable Jump-Starter Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Noco Boost Plus GB40 

Best Value: Tacklife T8 

Honorable Mention: Audew Portable Jump-Starter 

Best Compact: Micro-Start XP-3

Best With Air Compressor: Stanley J5C09 Portable Power Station

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Noco
  • Model Number: Boost Plus GB40
  • Starting Amps: 1,000 amps

Pros

  • Highly consistent
  • Perfect for most car owners
  • Heavy-duty jumper cables are better than most

Cons

  • Poorly made storage bag
  • Few additional power ports

The Noco GB40 is both a model that exists in our personal collections and is one that was subjected to hands-on testing. It's proven to be a reliable, consistent unit that's not soon to let you down when things get tough. That said, it's equipped with long, sturdy battery cables, it's easy to use, features reverse-polarity protection, and doubles as a power bank for your smart device. This model is rated to jump-start up to six-liter gas engines and three-liter diesel engines, making it the perfect match for most car owners. I have even seen this jump a 440-ci V-8 countless times, and it's still trucking.

As for the drawbacks, there are few to talk about. The storage bag it comes with isn't quite the right size for the unit and lacks in quality. It also lacks in the number of additional ports and features in comparison to many other models. 

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Tacklife
  • Model Number: T8
  • Starting Amps: 800 amps

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • More than enough power for average motorist
  • Plentiful additional ports/functions

Cons

  • Clumsy safety protection box
  • Poorly placed flashlight

The Tacklife 800A T8 is difficult to ignore. The low price is the first thing to capture your attention, but that shouldn't lead you to believe it's a slouch. My testing revealed this to be a true contender. Aside from being reliable, it packs quite the punch with the ability to jump-start up to seven-liter gas engines and five-liter diesel engines. It’s still a little small for big truck owners but more than enough for the average motorist. It also comes equipped with plenty of bells and whistles for charging up laptops, smart devices, and anything else with USB ports.

The primary issue with this unit is the bulky safety protection box at the base of the clamp leads. Its function isn't an issue. It's just clumsy in relation to other models. Also, the location of the light renders the flashlight somewhat useless when connecting the cables to your battery.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Audew
  • Model Number: Audew
  • Starting Amps: 1,000 amps

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Surprising performance for price
  • Plenty of additional ports/functions

Cons

  • Relatively low durability
  • Bulky protection box on cables

The Audew portable jump-starter’s overall performance claims make it a solid contender. The price is lower than most will expect to pay for a jump-starter, making its ability to jump up to an eight-liter gas engine or six-liter diesel utterly shocking. While it's safe to assume those numbers may be generous, my testing did prove it to be more than capable of servicing the average motor vehicle. It's also worth pointing out that this model also features two USB ports, meaning you and a passenger can charge your phones in an emergency situation.

While it will do just fine under normal circumstances, this may not be the most durable unit. We suspect it's strong enough to endure most anything you'll encounter on the road. And the bulky protection box at the base of the cables isn’t favorable.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Antigravity Batteries
  • Model Number: ‎AG-XP-MS-3
  • Starting Amps: 200 amps

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Impressive power output for the size
  • Plentiful additional features

Cons

  • Relatively high price
  • Quality control issues

If space is tight, then the XP-3 is what you're looking for. This model measures just one inch thick and is small enough to keep in your pocket. It's probably better to keep it in a backpack, though. Really, we'd suggest this to powersports enthusiasts and motorcycle owners, but its ability to jump-start up to a five-liter gas engine makes it a good choice for most people. It also does feature two USB charging ports, which can prove handy for many situations.

While this is a great option, there are some things we dislike about it. The price is a little high considering the relatively low power output and lack of features. There are several complaints about defective units, leading us to believe that there is a quality control issue.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Gooloo
  • Model Number: ‎GP2000
  • Starting Amps: 2,000 amps

Pros

  • Enough power for most vehicles
  • IPlenty of charging ports for devices
  • Can be used to power other automotive tools

Cons

  • Bulky protection box on cables
  • Poorly placed flashlight

The Gooloo GP2000 is certainly a great option. It has the juice to jump-start up to nine-liter gas engines and seven-liter diesel engines, making it a decent choice for pretty much any vehicle owner. It features a total of three ports for charging: two USB, one type C. On top of that, it comes with a 5-volt/10-amp DC output to power additional tools such as tire inflators and vacuums. These features easily make it one of the most well-equipped compact starters on our list.

Unfortunately, this is yet another model with a bulky protection box and poorly placed flashlight. These aren't serious problems for many, but better designs are to be expected for the money.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Schumacher
  • Model Number: ‎SC1281
  • Starting Amps: 100 amps

Pros

  • Can charge battery and run diagnostics
  • Long cables
  • Relatively low price

Cons

  • Quality control issues are common
  • Not portable

This Schumacher has a place in any DIYer's shop. It's more than just a jumper, as it can perform diagnostic tests to help you determine what killed the battery in the first place. Not only that, but it can also charge AGM, gel, and standard batteries. This model also has exceptionally long leads, which is perfect considering the size of the unit and that many battery chargers are stricken with frustratingly short cables. It is also affordable.

This unit is great for the garage, but it does rely on 120-volt power and is not portable. Furthermore, there are a concerning number of complaints about faulty units reaching customers.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Stanley
  • Model Number: ‎J5C09
  • Starting Amps: 1,000 amps

Pros

  • Built-in compressor
  • Can charge/power many devices
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Relatively short battery cables

We've all seen something like this Stanley before. It's the kind of emergency roadside tool many were given as teenagers. It does have the power to jump-start a vehicle, but the built-in compressor makes it easy to air up the tires enough to get off the side of the road. It's priced perfectly for the average consumer, which isn't much of a surprise coming from Stanley. Also, the USB charging port and 12-volt DC port make it easy to power up or charge devices you'll want to keep handy in an emergency.

This is a great unit, but it is large. The cables are also relatively short, which can make it awkward for some car owners to use.

Our Verdict

The Noco Boost Plus GB40 is hard to beat for most car owners. It's priced just right and can easily jump-start common applications. However, the Tacklife T8 is a great way to go if you want to save money. 

Things to Consider When Buying a Jump-Starter 

It's always best to make an informed decision, especially when the item you're purchasing is designed to come to your aid in an emergency situation. Jump-starters aren't all the same, however. 

Types of Jump-Starters

Portable 

Every jump-starter on the list above is a portable unit. They feature an internal battery, so there is no need to depend on external power sources. They are generally sized with vehicle storage in mind, but motorcyclists may want to consider more compact models.

To say that portable models don't have flaws is untrue, though. The primary drawback is that they aren't doing you any favors if they aren't fully charged. It's common for the same kind of cold weather that kills your car battery to suck the life out of one of these units. Keep an eye on battery levels periodically to ensure you won't wind up with a dead jump pack.

Wheeled Units

There are no wheeled units on our list, but they are excellent tools. These models take up a considerable space in the shop, but they do many things that their portable counterparts generally cannot. It's also not out of the ordinary for these models to be far more powerful. 

Many wheeled units can charge batteries and run diagnostic tests as well as jump a dead battery. These are usually found in a commercial setting. However, they can be a worthwhile investment for someone who is more actively involved in DIY automotive repair. 

Pricing 

The average car owner should expect to pay $50-$150 for a jump-starter. It's important to be careful on the low end of that price range, as quality and performance are likely to suffer. As engine displacement increases, consumers must move to a more powerful, more expensive unit. Models designed to turn over engines in diesel trucks or classic cars usually live in the $250-$300 range. As power increases and features are added, the price will quickly increase. It's common to find professional models selling for $1,000 or more. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What size jump-starter do I need for my engine?

A: It depends on the engine you're working with. Thankfully, most jump-starters provide you with details outlining what size engines they're good for. That said, it's never a bad idea to buy one that's more powerful than you need so long as there's room in the budget. 

Q: How long do portable jump-starters last?

A: Many factors will determine how long your jump-starter will last. On average, the lithium batteries should last for around two or three years. Your own jump-starter can live for longer or shorter depending on the number of charge cycles it sees and how well you take care of it. 

Q: How many times can a portable jump-starter jump my car?

A: It depends on what the manufacturer claims and the particular situation you're in. If the manufacturer claims that its jump-starter can perform 20 jumps on a single charge, you should assume that's in ideal weather conditions on the smallest engine in its range, on a brand-new unit. As those factors change, you can expect the number of jumps to fluctuate.

Q: Will a jump-starter charge my battery? 

A: No. A jump-starter only temporarily provides the system with enough additional power to turn the starter and fire the engine. The alternator will offer some charging once the engine is running, but it is still important to put the battery on a dedicated charger after jump-starting. 

Q: Can I overcharge a portable jump-starter?

A: Not under normal circumstances. Internal circuitry should prevent overcharging as long as the unit is in sound condition.

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