There are a lot of things that drivers would be wise to keep in their car for personal safety and vehicle care. But if you were to only keep one piece of emergency equipment in your car, there’s a strong case to be made for jumper cables. Having a dead battery when you don’t have jumper cables can stop your trip dead in its tracks. But with jumper cables, it’s possible to get a move on in just a few minutes. Even if you have a new car that you never expect to break down, it never hurts to be prepared. Plus, you just might have the chance to help someone in need.
To use jumper cables, both cars should be parked and turned off. Then, apply the red clamp to the positive terminal of both cars, starting with the dead one. Then apply the black clip to the live battery and the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface that isn’t attached to the dead battery. This provides grounding. The car providing power should then be turned on for a few minutes, and then you should try to turn on the car with the dead battery. If it works, the cables should be removed in the reverse order of how they were attached.
As for which are the best jumper cables to use, we compiled a list of some of our favorites.
1. CARTMAN Booster Cable 4 Gauge x 20Ft
This brand’s automotive supplies are among the best out there. These jumper cables are 20-feet long and come in a soft carrying case. They’re UL-listed for product safety and the cables are coated to resist extreme temperatures and tangling.
Pros: UL-listed for safety. Extra-long 20 ft cable for easy connection regardless of how the cars are parked relative to each other.
Cons: Conductor is aluminum, not copper, which is not immediately apparent from the product listing.
2. Energizer 4 Gauge 500A Jumper Battery Cables
Energizer is well-known for making some of the best batteries for consumers, so it’s not surprising that they also make a solid set of jumper cables. The cables are UL-listed, and you can choose between various gauges between one and six, and lengths between 16 and 25 feet. Included is a soft zippered storage case.
Pros: High-quality UL-listed cables from a top brand. Long 16 feet cables.
Cons: Storage bag isn’t that well made and it’s difficult to get the cables back in the bag once opened.
3. AmazonBasics Jumper Cable for Car Battery
AmazonBasics seems to make pretty much everything these days. True to form, their jumper cables are well-made. These cables are six-gauge, but you can also choose between higher and lower gauge cables on the listing. Like the other options, the AmazonBasics cables feature the classic red and black positive and negative connections.
Pros: 12-foot cable that is durable and long-lasting.
Cons: UL-certified, rather than UL-listed, meaning that they’re less thoroughly tested.
4. Lifeline AAA Premium Road Kit
AAA is dedicated to helping drivers stay safe on the road, so it makes sense that their Lifeline Premium Road Kit comes with several crucial items for keeping your car and its riders safe. In addition to a set of eight-gauge jumper cables, the kit also includes an aluminum flashlight with batteries, a two-in-one screwdriver, duct tape and an emergency poncho. We also like that the kit features a small first aid kid for minor injuries.
Pros: The contents of the kit are organized in a zippered carrying case that includes AAA guidelines on what to do in the case of an emergency.
Cons: The cables included in the kit are only 8 feet long and cars will have to be parked close to each other in order for the cables to reach.
5. NoOne Heavy Duty Booster Cables
The NoOne Heavy Duty Booster Cables literally go the distance thanks to their extended 25-foot length. Designed for use on the highway and for larger vehicles, including trucks and RVs, the insulated jumper cables are rubber coated and made with premium PVC that is resistant to freezing, cracking and folding even in extreme temperatures. The clamps are made from copper and the set comes with goggles, gloves and a cleaning brush, which along with the cables can be stored in a carrying bag.
Pros: The cables come with a Smart-6 protector that has a red and green indicator light to let users know whether their connection is correct before turning on their vehicle.
Cons: Because of the cables’ length and rubber protection, they are somewhat heavy.
6. Beatit 1200Amps 12V Portable Car Lithium Jump Starter
Jumpstart large vehicles without relying on a second car battery using the Beatit 1200Amps 12V Portable Car Lithium Jump Starter. The UL-certified Beatit has a peak of 1200 Amps and can be used for gasoline engines up to eight liters and diesel engines up to six liters. Beatit’s cables can extend to 15 inches, making it convenient to reach the necessary terminals even in large vehicles. Doubling as a charging station for small electronics, the Beatit comes with an “Integrated Voltmeter” on the cables that can read car battery diagnostics. The portable battery houses a lithium-ion battery chip QDSP technology (Quick Discharge Start Power) inside a durable case.
Pros: The Beatit can jump-start flat batteries in seconds.
Cons: The Beatit advertises that it can jumpstart a car 30 times on one charge, but the number is likely much lower.
7. NOCO Boost Plus GB40 1000 Amp 12-Volt Ultra Safe Portable Lithium Car Battery
Jumper cables are a great way to restart a dead car’s battery when another car is available, but what about when you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere without another car in sight? For drivers who often find themselves traveling in remote areas, we recommend the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 1000 Amp 12-Volt Ultra Safe Portable Lithium Car Battery. The compact and powerful rechargeable battery is rated for 12-volt gasoline engines up to six liters and diesel engines up to three liters, making it ideal for keeping in cars and small SUVs. The lightweight portable battery weighs only 2.4 pounds and has a durable, water-resistant casing.
Pros: The Noco includes a 100-lumen LED flashlight with seven light modes and can be used as a charger for small electronics.
Cons: New units sometimes arrive not completely charged.
8. NoOne Booster Cable, 6 Gauge 12-Feet Emergency Booster
Dead batteries seem to strike at the worst times, namely at night. That’s what makes this such a clever option. The clamps have built-in LED lights on the clamps, so you can easily see what you’re doing. The cables are six-gauge and 12 feet long.
Pros: Clamps have built-in LED lights that turn on when the clamps are opened, making it easy to see while working.
Cons: Not the best carry bag. Not UL-tested.
9. EPAuto 4 Gauge Jumper Cables
These jumper cables have a heavy-duty, four-gauge thickness. The cables are 20 feet long, so they should be ample for reaching between two cars at any distance. The clamps are copper-coated for maximum conduction. Included with the cables are safety gloves and a carry bag.
Pros: Heavy-duty four-gauge option, comes with free safety gloves.
Cons: Clamps could attach more tightly. Not UL-tested.