The 5 Best Jumper Cables For Your Car In 2021
Having the best jumper cables is the kind of thing that only mechanics seem to have. And the kind of thing you don’t really need… until you’re stuck in your car with a battery that won’t start your car. So, what do jumper cables do and how can they help?
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Well, if you’ve ever had a dead car battery – if you’ve ever had a car! – investing in a good set of jumper cables is a vital thing to do. A dead battery can be not only annoying but seriously get in the way of our lives – and in those situations where you need some power quickly, a good set of jumper cables is a critical tool in your automobile arsenal, sitting snugly in your trunk for just such an occasion.
But, while it’s easy to pick up any old set of jumper cables at the hardware store, like all things in life we want the best choice for us. Additionally, it can certainly to understand how to test a car battery with a multimeter to determine if jump-starting even makes sense.
And so, in this guide, we’ll take a look at the different types and features of jumper cables, the best jumper cables for you and your car, how to use jumper cables and how to take care of them.
So, are you ready? Let’s go!
The Different Types of Jumper Cable
There are several different types of jumper cable to look out for: the standard type, and the type we’ll look at the most here, is a classic set of jumper cables that you can connect between a functioning car and a dead one, to give the dead one a boost of power. There are a few variations on jumper cables, though – including battery boosters and smart cables.
Instead of the usual two sets of clamps that jumper cables normally carry, battery boosters only have one set – with the other connected to what we can think of as a portable battery, to bring your car back to life without the use of another one. While these types of jumper cables are convenient to use on your own, they’re much bulkier than standard jumper cables. However, these can be extremely handy if you have one of the best car batteries for cold weather and you want to help someone out that doesn’t.
Nifty smart cables come with a unit built into them that tells you if the cables are incorrectly connected. This unit – also known as a ‘reverse polarity indicator’ will sound when they’re not hooked up right, allowing you to troubleshoot. For people less familiar with jumper cables or with cars in general, this type of cable could be a great option, as the battery will of course be unable to charge correctly if it’s not connected to the cable properly. Hopefully though, after our guide, this won’t be a problem!
As a side note: A great way to charge your batteries is with a solar-powered DIY system. If you want to learn more about it we covered a lot in our backyard revolution reviews here. Check it out to see if that’s a project you’d like to start this summer!
Btw, if your batteries are dying faster than usualy, consider reconditioning them. Read our EZ Battery Reconditioning review here to see how.
Features of a Jumper Cable
The gauge on a jumper cable tells us how big the wire is, and shows us how much current it’s able to carry safely. While you might think that a higher gauge equals more power, it’s the opposite way round – the lower the gauge is, the more current it can carry, due to the size of the wire being bigger.
The best gauge for jumper cables is usually the biggest ones – go with a large gauge as they’re more versatile, although it’s worth noting that the average car will work well with 6- to 8-gauge cables. It’s useful to bear in mind, too, that the best gauge for jumper cables will be what’s best for your car – so check out what you’ll need before you buy.
It’s very useful to think about the length of your jumper cables when you buy, too – after all, you’ll need them to connect between two cars comfortably.
Generally, the cable’s length corresponds with its gauge – smaller cable gauges typically mean longer wires, as a small gauge is equipped to handle more current, meaning that the wires are longer to reduce any excess heat made in the jumper cable process causing damage.
If you can, going for tangle-free cables is always a smart move – but if not, find a suitable way to store them wound loosely around something, so you don’t have to fiddle with them when you need it!
The all-important clamps are how you connect your cables to your car – luckily, most jumper cables are made with one of two types, both of which work well with most vehicles.
The clue for them is both in the name: alligator-style clamps are similar to an alligator’s mouth, and parrot-style clamps are shaped like a parrot’s beak. Parrot-style clamps can sometimes have a little less grip than alligator-style ones, but either style should work perfectly in your car.
While the coating of your jumper cables isn’t a massive factor in buying them, ideally you want to go for a thick PVC coating that feels robust and protective, both on your cable and on the handles of the clamps – it’ll make them both last longer, and make them easier to handle when in use.
A good coating will also help insulate the cables, allowing them to not emit excess heat.
5 Best Jumper Cables For Your Car
1. Energizer Heavy Duty Jumper Battery Cables
The wildly popular Energizer brand has taken over the energy world. Batteries, torches – and now, jumper cables! There’s a reason why Energizer has become industry leaders, though – their products work well and exactly how you need them to, and their Energizer Heavy Duty Jumper Battery Cables are no exception.
These extra-long cables stretch to a huge 25 feet, meaning you’ll be able to safely boost your car from another vehicle even if you can’t get them close together. The heavy duty jumper cables are copper-aluminum clad and single-gauge, with an 800 amperage rating – offering a huge amount of power. Their thick vinyl coating also allows them to remain tangle-free and to work at sub-zero temperatures, down to a level of -40 Fahrenheit!
Add to this a handy carry case and a two-year warranty on them, and these jumper cables truly stand out from the pack.
2. Cartman 20-Feet Booster Jumper Cable
Cartman is also an excellent brand of jumper cable, and their Cartman 20-Feet Booster Jumper Cable stands tall in their range. These heavy duty jumper cables are brilliant for larger vehicles such as trucks, SUVs, and freight hauliers – but they’d work for any car.
These 4-gauge cables are insulated with T-Prene coating, meaning that electricity passes through seamlessly, and they can remain flexible at temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. At 20 feet long, they’ll be able to join between two vehicles easily, and their clamps are engineered to have a double-strength grip.
There have been customer reports of the clamps sometimes becoming stiff – but, with a 5-year warranty, you’ll buy knowing you have peace of mind if you have trouble. Coming with a carry case, these jumper cables are a great choice.
3. EPAuto Heavy-Duty Jumper Cables
The next in our heavy duty jumper cables, the EPAuto Heavy-Duty Jumper Cables are a sturdy choice that is built to help any vehicle back to life. As with the Cartman cables, these cables are robust and suitable for use with larger vehicles.
What sells these cables, though, is the long length and massive amp capacity. The EPAuto Heavy Duty Jumper Cables extend to a massive 25 feet, meaning joining them between two vehicles is no problem at all – and coming in with an 800 amperage capacity, they allow a large amount of energy to be passed through without any excess heat.
Bear in mind that these aren’t a budget choice, though – these jumper cables are a little more expensive than some other models out there. They also have slightly fewer teeth on the grips, meaning that they can be slightly less secure sometimes. However, we think that these cables are very worth the price, and can help in any situation.
4. Performance Tool W1673 Jumper Cable
Performance Tool may not be as well-known a brand as some of the other heavy hitters on this list, but don’t be fooled – their products are high-quality and built to last, and their Performance Tool W1673 Jumper Cable is no exception.
These cables are, like the others, much longer than usual – they measure at 20 feet, meaning less heat and more range. They also have thick 4-gauge wires and a brilliant amp rating of 500A, with the peak current being able to go up to 600 amperages, indicating that a heavy amount of power can pass through these cables.
Everything about this product feels sturdy, and the durable tangle-free rubber coating on the wires and strong copper clamps give you peace of mind that this product will see you through any issues. If you’re looking for a choice that’s less well-known but as good, Performance Tool’s jumper cables should fit the bill.
5. OxGord Commercial Grade Jumper Cables
Our final choice for best jumper cables is the OxGord Commercial Grade Jumper Cables, which are a brilliant choice for anybody not looking to spend big bucks on their choice. While these jumper cables are entry-level, though, they certainly do not compromise in quality or usability.
Unlike many cheaper cables, these have an enormous 25-foot reach – longer than some of the more expensive options on our list – and come equipped with 4-gauge wires that can transfer heat and energy effectively. What’s pleasing about these cables, too, is their craftsmanship – the strong thermoplastic rubber is built to withstand sub-freezing conditions, and is also designed to be tangle-free.
While the teeth on the parrot-head clamps can mean that its grip is slightly less secure than other options on our list, the balance of price and function in the Oxford Commercial Grade Jumper Cables sells it for us. There’s no reason why less expensive should mean less capable!
How To Use Jumper Cables Properly?
Now that we’ve had a look at the best jumper cables out there, it’s important to revise the process of using your new jumper cables for when the moment you need them arises. While most good cables will come equipped with guides, we’ve put together an easy how-to on how your jumper cables work.
Step 1: Pre-Checks
Before beginning any process of trying to start a car with jumper cables, make sure that the vehicles are compatible with each other. It’s vital to check that both cars have the same volt battery, in case the car you’re trying to start gets a massive, unwanted electrical surge, as well as to make sure that the working car’s battery is fully charged. Avoid jump-starting electric or hybrid cars, as their mechanisms are different.
Make sure you remove any jewellery or metal about your person and loose clothing; if you have them, goggles are a great idea, just in case of any errant sparks. Make sure there are no naked flames nearby, or that anyone is smoking, as you’ll be popping the hood.
Step 2: Get Close
Make sure the working car and the car you’re about to jump-start are parked as close to each other as possible, making sure you can get around and into both vehicles. Make sure both vehicles have the ignitions turned off, and they’re in Park or Neutral.
Step 3: Connect The Cables
Next, pop the hood of both cars. Locate both batteries and connect both batteries to either side of the cables. The red cables connect to the positive red terminals; the black cables connect to the negative black terminals.
Ensure that the cables aren’t crossing, and avoid laying any part of a cable on the engine – if it’s hot, it’s at risk of melting the cable coating, causing fire and further damage. Leave them for a few minutes to acclimatize before the next step.
Step 4: Start Up The Cars
Now it’s time to start up the cars! The first step here is to start the working car. It’s helpful to rev the engine a few times to help power up the battery. Leave to run for a brief period, and after that, start up the car that’s receiving the power. The car should now be able to start immediately – if it does, you’ve successfully used the jumper cables to bring the car back!
If for any reason the car doesn’t start, check that the cables are correctly attached and try the process again. If it still doesn’t start, there may be a more profound problem with the battery or the cables.
Step 5: Disconnect The Batteries
Once both cars have started up, leave them to run for about 10 minutes, just to make sure everything’s in order. After this, power off both cars and disconnect the jumper cables. If they’re hot, leave them to cool for a spell before putting them away. One important thing is to never let the clamps touch if they’re still connected to a battery – they could spark, which could cause a fire or damage to yourself or your car.
And that’s it! Both cars should be good to go. It’s advisable to take the car that was receiving the power for a quick spin afterwards to check it’s received enough power, and to make sure you’re good to get back on the road!
Taking Care Of Them
It’s important to take good care of your jumper cables – after all, they’re an investment, and if handled well they could last you for a long time.
Make sure that in between uses they’re stored neatly away, in a dry, warm place, and not scrunched up or bent too much. It’s useful to store them in your car, as that’s the place you’ll need them! Putting jumper cables under a seat or in the trunk is a great place to store them.
Also, now and again check your jumper cables over to make sure there’s no damage anywhere. All things deteriorate with time, and jumper cables can too – so make sure you keep an eye on them, as you don’t want them faulty when you need them most.
Frequently asked questions
What Do I Do If My Car Battery Doesn’t Have A Negative Terminal?
Don’t panic! Car batteries not having negative terminals is more common than you might think. The negative clamp is just needed for grounding, so instead, attach the negative clamp to some bare metal in the engine bay and it’ll do the trick.
Is The Colour Of The Jumper Cables Important?
The colour of the cables isn’t important in themselves – what’s important is that those colours correspond to a positive and negative terminal. Make sure you check your manual if your jumper cables aren’t red and black to check which cable corresponds to which terminal – but usually, the clamps will have indicators on them to show you this.
Do I Need To Replace My Battery If I Have To Use Jumper Cables To Jump-Start My Car?
Having to jump-start your car doesn’t necessarily mean that your battery is beyond use. There can be many reasons for a dead battery – the most common culprit is leaving your car or headlights on overnight – so if you can figure out why it’s dead easily, chances are your battery’s still good to go.
What’s more concerning is if your battery’s dying regularly and you can’t figure out why – in this case, it might be that the battery’s past it’s prime and needs replacing. The other reason could be to do with a fault with your vehicle itself, though – in which case, you might want to get your car checked before buying any new batteries.
It’s useful to note that through reconditioning car batteries you can extend the life of your car battery way beyond its expected period with a method that’s quick, easy, safe, and fun to do. Check out our Battery Reconditioning Guide for more information on this incredible process.
While your jumper cable needs will vary based on your vehicle, with any of our top picks you’re guaranteed a safe and effective process for restarting your car every time. Add to that our guides on jumper cables and how to use them, and you’ll be helping other stranded drivers out on the road before you know it!
To see how you could extend the lives of your batteries to avoid processes like these, EZ Battery Reconditioning is the guide for you. This astonishing programme can take you through the simple process of reconditioning virtually every battery in your life, saving you thousands of dollars in the long run. Check it out today!