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Car batteries die, and usually at the worst possible times. But the more prepared you are for when it inevitably happens, the less of a hassle it will be. We covered portable jump start batteries here, some of which had built-in cables, but for a car-to-car jump, we’ve selected four that will hold up, bring your battery back to life and get you to your destination.
Jumper Cable Buying Guide
There are several details to look for in the best car jumper cables. Here’s what you should know before making your purchase.
Thickness: A jumper cable’s thickness is measured in numbers representing the gauge, and the lower it is, the thicker it is. Besides being heavier duty and tougher, a thick cable generally means it can carry more current. Go for something that’s less than 8 gauge, as it means there’s more copper inside it. A thin cable may be cheaper, but it also may not have enough power to jump your vehicle.
Insulation: This is the outer covering of the copper wiring inside. A heavier insulated cable means less heat is generated during the jump start, while a cheaper covering can cause injury or even melt. The insulation also protects the inner cable from other liquids and things that may be around, like rain, oil, heat and grease.
Length: Car batteries don’t always die in situations where it’s easy to get both cars facing each other. When breaking down on the highway, a tight one-way street, or a parking garage where the other car is a good distance away, length can be a lifesaver. Having a too-short cable makes everything unnecessarily harder, and though they’re pricier, it’s best to get the longest one you can afford — six feet at the very least, if not 10 or more.
Clamps: Alligator clips at each end of the cable are what’s used to transmit electricity from one battery to another. The clamps are made of conductive material, which is why it’s extra important to have (usually rubber) insulation all over it to avoid getting shocked.
Warranty: We strongly suggest getting one that’s covered with a warranty and is UL certified. UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is recognized worldwide in safety certifications, and an additional warranty provides some peace of mind knowing the company has your back if anything goes wrong.
What Are the Best Jumper Cables?
Before your next road trip, stock up on one of these reliable jumper cables to store in your vehicle.
1. Energizer Jumper Cables for Car Battery
At 25 feet, this should be long enough to get the job done. At just 1 gauge, Energizer’s cable is highly insulated, and can still function and be flexible even at -40 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s PVC material over the rust and corrosion-resistant clamps, preventing shocks when you’re setting up a jump. This comes with a carrying case, as well as a two-year warranty, and works with cars, trucks and SUVs.
2. AutoGen Heavy Duty Jumper Cables
At 0 gauge, this was the thickest cable we found, while still remaining bendable even in cold weather. If protection from shocks, damage or hot wiring is a concern, this one’s a solid choice. The beefy layer of PVC material covers the copper completely as the 1,000 amps of current run through, and the clamps themselves provide a tight and toothy grip. This comes with a carrying bag, but also an LED light, in case you break down in the dark, as well as a pair of gloves.
3. Cartman Heavy Duty Booster Cables
Cartman’s copper-clad aluminum cables work well for jumping full-size pickups, RVs and even trucks. These UL-certified cables aren’t meant for extreme cold weather like the others, but can still hold up when the temperature drops to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. They also come with a carrying pouch to tuck them safely in your trunk for the next time they’re needed.
4. Amazon Basics Jumper Cable for Car Battery
As a budget option, this one from Amazon Basics is suited best for smaller cars or motorcycles. The 4-gauge, copper-clad aluminum cable carries 320 amps of current over its 20 feet of length. It’s lighter than most, at just over 5 pounds. The springy clips give a tight grip, and it’s also UL-certified cable.