Best Jumper Cables: Our Picks for a Quick Jump
Stay on the road and off the shoulder with these top jumper cables
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A dead car battery is a common problem. Like a flat tire, however, it’s a repair you can address yourself. Having a set of high-quality car jumper cables can get you back on the road quickly. This jumper cable guide will help you learn more about jumper cables and will point you in the right direction for purchasing your own set.
Types of Jumper Cables
Smart jumper cables have a built-in unit that will notify you if the cables are connected improperly. This unit is often referred to as the “reverse polarity indicator” and chimes with a beep or tone. Connecting the jumper cables improperly won’t allow the dead battery to charge, so this type is handy for inexperienced drivers.
Similar to jumper cables, battery boosters provide the electricity needed to get your dead battery going—but with only one set of clamps. Think of them as portable batteries capable of charging a dead battery just like another car can. Battery boosters don’t require the use of another car to jump your battery, but they can take up more space in the car.
Top Jumper Cable Brands
If you’re thinking of a pink, fluffy bunny drumming a beat behind black shades, you know what Energizer is all about. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Energizer has been in business for over 35 years. You’ve probably purchased a few of their batteries before, but check out these 1-Gauge Jumper Cables that will keep your car going and going.
This Australian company was founded in 2005. Serving the United Kingdom and the United States as well as the Aussie continent, Voilamart’s inventory includes a wide variety of products, from kitchen and beauty to patio and electronics. Automotive accessories are just a small part of what they’re known for. For jumper cables, consider the Voilamart Commercial Grade Automotive Booster Cables.
Pennzoil first opened its doors in 1913 and is currently headquartered in Houston, Texas. You’ve probably heard of Pennzoil if you’ve gotten your vehicle’s oil changed lately. However, Pennzoil also produces these Heavy-Duty Battery Booster Jumper Cables, which are equipped to jump almost anything on the road.
Jumper Cable Pricing
- $1-$15: Jumper cables in this price range are best for most two-door and four-door sedans. They’re typically made up of six- to eight-gauge wire and span around 10 or 12 feet. You might purchase jumper cables in this price range if you’re just looking for a basic set to have on-hand in case of emergency.
- $20-$35: Buy jumper cables in this price range to break into the two- and four-gauge wire options. Most cables will be a bit longer than 12 feet, but only those near $35 will come with a case and/or other accessories such as gloves. You might be able to find one-gauge-wire jumper cables at this price point as well.
- $40-$60: The cap of this pricing spectrum includes accessories like a carrying case, gloves, and extra capabilities. Comprised of one- and two-gauge-wire cables, this price point is where you’ll find the long jumper cables used on commercial vehicles. If you have these in your car, you should be able to jump nearly anything.
The gauge of a wire is a measurement of how much current it can safely carry. The lower the number, the bigger the wire—and the more current it can handle. Most sedans can be jumped with six- or eight-gauge cables. If you can, however, invest in a larger gauge wire. You’ll be able to not only jump the car you’re driving but also most other cars on the road as well.
Describing the amount of power an electric current has, amperage is another factor to consider. While most jumper cables should have enough amperage to jump-start an average vehicle, going with a higher amperage is in your best interest. Like wire gauge, it’s better to go with something bigger than to wish you had later, especially when it’s the difference between getting home and being stranded. A higher amperage means more power to boost that dead battery.
Usually measured in feet, a jumper cable’s length has a lot to do with the wire gauge. Typically, the smaller the wire gauge, the longer the cable. One- and two-gauge wires are able to handle more current flowing through, so—to reduce the amount of heat created in the energy transfer—the cables are longer. That way the heat is dispersed to protect the cables, car, and people involved from any damage and/or harm. Tangle-free cables are a good option for longer cables.
Most jumper cables will have a similar type of protective coating located on the clamp handles. However, every manufacturer is different when it comes to the amount of space that is covered by the material. While it’s not necessarily a huge factor, it’s generally better to purchase cables with a more protective coating. It makes gripping the clamps easier and protects the metal when not in use, especially in low temperatures.
There are two main types of clamps in the jumper cable world: parrot and alligator. Parrot-style clamps are rounded, like a bird’s beak. Alligator-style clamps, on the other hand, resemble an alligator’s long snout with their boxy shape. Both styles work well in a variety of applications.
- Purpose. The type of jumper cables you should purchase depends on the vehicle you drive. We recommend purchasing high-quality jumper cables with heavy-duty clamps that are at least two-gauge and around 20 feet in length. If you’d prefer not to jump other vehicles and just want a basic set for yourself, going with a cheaper option makes the most sense.
- Warranty. Warranties normally protect your purchase in case of failure, but with low-price jumper cables, it’s affordable to simply buy another pair and call it a day. There are various warranties available on all jumper cables if you want the coverage, so choose one that best fits.
Best Jumper Cable Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Jumper Cables Overall: Energizer Jumper Battery Cables
Energizer offers many different options when it comes to jumper cables, but we recommend this pair for several reasons. Located in the middle of the cable price range, these Energizer jumper cables can withstand more amperage, cover a long distance, and are backed by a two-year warranty. You can even store the cables in a handy carry bag to keep the wires from tangling.
A little different from other cables, these jumper cables come with parrot-style clamps. The teeth of the parrot clamps are copper-coated aluminum (CCA), much like almost every set of jumper cables you’ll find. The wires themselves are rated for all-weather use, and the higher gauge allows you to jump many types of vehicles.
Most drivers might find these jumper cables to be overkill, but they’re a good set to have on hand for both smaller and larger vehicles. You might find the parrot-style clamps to be harder to place on the battery terminals, due to their snub-nosed design and lack of longer, wider teeth. At eight pounds, the cables could be cumbersome as well.
Best Jumper Cable Value: OxGord Commercial Grade Jumper Cables
Priced just above our lowest price point, the OxGord Commercial Grade Jumper Cables make a great entry-level option if you’re just looking to have a set of jumper cables on hand. This pair of cables has a fair mix of value, capability, and quality.
Going with four-gauge wiring means you’ll have no problems jump-starting most smaller sedans and SUVs, and the 25-foot cable reach will help when parking close isn’t an option. The coating surrounding the four-gauge wire is constructed of thermoplastic rubber that is rated for extremely cold temperatures. Not only will these cables be flexible in the single-digit temps, but they’ll also coil up easily for storage.
At around six pounds, these quality jumper cables are ideal for any driver. Again, you might find the parrot-style clamps harder to use since they have less gripping area than alligator clamps, but they can clear tighter spaces in smaller cars and crossovers that don’t leave a lot of room to work.
Best Jumper Cables Honorable Mention: EPAuto Heavy-Duty Jumper Cables
Rest assured you’ll be able to jump-start nearly any type of vehicle with EPAuto’s heavy-duty jumper cables. The thick wires and long reach ensure you can make the most of your space and, with 800 amps, your battery will jump back to life quickly.
Sometimes, arranging the vehicles involved in jump-starting a car isn’t an easy task. With a longer reach, however, that challenge can easily be overcome. The 25-foot length is perfect for larger vehicles or in environments where you can’t get the vehicles close. All 25 feet of wire will safely dissipate the heat created by the 800-amp capacity.
Though heavy-duty, these jumper cables do come with a hefty price tag compared to similar models. The gripping ability with the parrot-style clamps is less-than-ideal because of the limited surface area available on the teeth.
Getting the Most Out of Your Jumper Cables
Jumper cables are a handy tool, as long as you know how to use them properly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Practice using your jumper cables so you know exactly what to do when the time comes. Don’t jump a car that doesn’t need to be jumped, but go through the motions as if it does. It’s all about muscle memory and being prepared.
- Teach your teens how to use jumper cables safely. Just like getting gas, checking the oil, and knowing how to change a tire, having the knowledge to jump a car will help student drivers.
- Inspect your jumper cables every so often for signs of damage. You can do this when you get gas and/or before long trips. Check the wire to make sure there are no splits or cuts. Work the clamps to ensure a tight grip. Look closely at the clamp teeth for any signs of bending or cracking.
- After each use, make sure to store your cables neatly in a dry, warm place. Most jumper cable cases will fit beneath a seat or in the trunk or rear storage space of your car. If there’s room in the case, store some first aid supplies, emergency food rations, and bottles of water.
Jumper Cable FAQs
Q: Does the color of the jumper cables matter?
A: Generally speaking, jumper cables can be any color. What you should pay attention to is which color is the negative and which is positive. This will help you to connect them properly.
Q: How do I know where to place jumper cables?
A: Batteries typically include two top posts, or “terminals,” on the top of their case. Oftentimes, you’ll see a red “+” cap/marker located on the “positive” terminal. Locate your battery and verify which terminal is negative and which one is positive. Then, connect the corresponding color-coded clamp to the correct terminal: negative to negative and positive to positive.
Q: My car battery doesn’t have a negative terminal—where do I attach the corresponding clamp?
A: This is not an uncommon scenario. The negative clamp simply needs to ground the connection, so attaching it to bare metal anywhere in the engine bay will work fine. Just make sure the connection is firm so the clamp doesn’t slip.
Q: Can smaller cars successfully jump bigger cars?
A: It’s generally a good idea to jump cars of similar size. However, that’s not to say you can’t mix and match. If you’re attempting to jump a car bigger than yours, rev your engine (while they’re connected) to about 3,000 RPMs. This is usually the range where the alternator kicks on to recharge your own battery. Alternatively, consider a jump starter with heavy-duty booster cables instead.
Our pick for the best jumper cables overall is Energizer’s Jumper Battery Cables. They’re great for small and large vehicles alike. For something more affordable, try the OxGord Commercial Grade Jumper Cables for a simple set.
Share your favorite jumper cables with us in the comments below.
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