When making a basic emergency preparedness kit for a car, one of the first things most people look for is a jump starter. An engine that you can’t start can entirely derail your trip and leave you stranded, but having a way to jump your car can get you going in no time. One of the most cost-effective ways to jump your car is with jumper cables. But the usefulness of jumper cables is entirely dependent upon your ability to flag down another car to give you a boost. Without another car, jumper cables are basically glorified jump ropes. For most people who travel along well-trafficked city roads and freeways, this won’t be a problem. But if you live somewhere where another motorist might not pass by for a few hours, you may need a better alternative.
One way is with a portable jump starter. They’re basically like a giant portable charger, except they can power much more than your phone (though many of them have USB ports, so they can do that, too). That means you can jump your car without anyone else’s help. Owners of diesel cars are probably well aware of the special considerations that go into a diesel engine, like the higher cranking current required to start it. Fortunately, many portable jump starters have enough power to jump a diesel engine. We’ve rounded up a few powerful and compact portable jump starters for gas and diesel cars. Many of the options on this list are small enough to fit in your glove compartment, so you won’t have to think about them until you need to use them. These are the ones to order today — after all, you never know when you’ll need it.
1. DBPOWER 600A Portable Car Jump Starter
DBPOWER’s jump starter is one of the best-regarded and most affordable options, and it has a bunch of features that go beyond just giving your car a boost. It has a flashlight so you can see what you’re doing in the dark, as well as two USB ports for powering your devices. There are also DC input/output ports, an LCD screen showing how much power the unit has, and even a compass. It also has a cool red and black look, which will almost make you look forward to having to using it. It can power a 6.5L gas engine and a 5.2L diesel engine up to 20 times. The cables are designed to protect against short-circuiting, over-voltage, and over-charging. Its longest side is less than 8 inches, so you can easily fit it in most glove compartments.
Pros: Compact and portable unit with helpful bonus features like USB ports, a flashlight, and even a compass. Clamps are designed to protect against over-charging and short-circuiting. LCD with a percentage readout so you know how much charge is left in the unit.
Cons: Capable of powering up to 5.2L diesel engines, which is smaller than some of the other options on this list.
2. TACKLIFE Car Jump Starter
This option from TackLife has a handful of helpful features to assist you in the event that you’re stranded. In addition to the 18000mAh jumper cables that can power a 7.0L gas engine and a 5.5L diesel engine, there’s a 12V DC output and two USB ports. There’s also a compass and an LED light with multiple settings including strobe and SOS. The side of the unit has a screen display that shows the percentage of power that is left in the unit. Smart features include short-circuit protection, overcharge protection, and reverse-polarity protection.
Pros: Affordable jump starter with a zippered carrying case and helpful features like USB ports, a flashlight with a strobe and SOS setting, and an LCD to indicate how much power is left.
Cons: It is not recommended to jump a car with less than 50% battery in the unit, whereas some options set the bottom threshold lower. That means you’ll have to ensure that you keep it charged.
3. GOOLOO Car Jump Starter
This simple and powerful option can power up to a 7.0L gas or 5.5L diesel engine. There’s a DC output, input, and two USB ports. One of the USB ports is USB 3.0, allowing you to charge your phone more quickly than other options, and the 12V DC output will allow you to charge other small electronics. Plus, there’s an LED flashlight so you can see the engine if you’re jumping the car at night. A dotted light indicator will help you gauge how much battery is left so you’re not stuck with a dead jump starter when you need it. There’s also a zippered carrying case to safely and conveniently store the jump starter.
Pros: Can power a 7.0L gas engine or a 5.5 diesel engine. Quick-charge USB 3.0 port for powering your phone. Built-in LED flashlight has strobe and SOS settings, which can help flag down help.
Cons: Instruction book isn’t easy to understand.
4. TOPVISION Portable Car Power Pack
This option from TOPVISION is suited for charging larger engines — it can charge up to a 7L gas engine or a 6.5L diesel engine. There are also DC outputs and inputs, as well as two USB ports — including USB 3.0 — for quickly recharging your phone. Like all the other options, an LED flashlight can be used to help you see what you’re doing or to flag down other motorists with the SOS and strobe features. There’s also an LED display that estimates the percentage of power left in the unit. Smart features help prevent over-current protection, short-circuit protection, and over-load protection.
Pros: Can handle larger engines, including up to 7L gas engines and 6.5L diesel engines. Zippered carrying case for convenient storage. USB 3.0 port for recharging your phone.
Cons: Included instructions are limited.
5. NOCO Boost Plus Car Battery Jump Starter
This 1000-amp option from NOCO can power a 6L gas engine or a 3L diesel engine, making it somewhat less powerful than some of the other options on this list. However, you can also choose a more powerful option from this same listing, including a 4000-amp version that can power up to 10L engines. Extras include a USB-charging port and bright dual flashlights with strobe and SOS settings. There’s also a graph display on the side to indicate how much power the unit has left. It can jump a car up to 20 times on a single charge.
Pros: This ruggedized option is water-resistant, making it great for those in wet climates. It has bright dual-flashlights, including strobe and SOS settings. It comes with a one-year warranty.
Cons: More expensive and not as powerful as some of the other options.