The 10 Best Jumper Cables

Updated December 04, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

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Never get stranded with a dead battery again, or be the good Samaritan for someone else, with one of these high quality jumper cables. Our selection includes budget models for occasional emergency use, and heavy duty ones capable of the most demanding applications, such as jumping farm equipment or a dualie diesel truck. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best jumper cable on Amazon.

10. Motor Trend MTA816-CCA

The Motor Trend MTA816-CCA are designed to work with any 4, 6 or 8 cylinder car, and are also suitable for some light-duty pick-up trucks. They are backed by a lifetime warranty so you shouldn't ever have to buy another pair.
  • high visibility bright yellow
  • use a thin 8-gauge wire
  • can slip on some battery posts
Brand Motor Trend
Model MTA816-CCA
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Coleman 08660

The Coleman 08660 feature glow-in-the-dark polarity labels on the clamps, which can be extremely helpful when you don't have a flashlight and are stuck on the side of the road. They are also motor oil resistant to stay looking like new for longer.
  • made in the united states
  • three ways to identify polarity
  • only rated for 300 amps
Brand Coleman Cable
Model 86600104
Weight 6.1 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

8. Capri Tools 21080

The clamps on the Capri Tools 21080 have extra teeth on the jaws to clamp onto thicker surfaces without slipping. They're also RoHS compliant and UL certified, and come in three different sizes and gauges, from 12 to 20 feet, and 4 to 8 gauge.
  • budget-friendly price
  • clamps have a pvc coating
  • not super heavy duty
Brand Capri Tools
Model 21080
Weight 5.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Unique Imports 3502

The Unique Imports 3502 are commercial-grade quality and have temperature-resistant shielding, so they can be used in extreme climates. Plus, the clips are rustproof, and the stranded wire makes the cables extremely flexible.
  • wide clip handles for extra leverage
  • bright color is easy to see at night
  • jaws are rather small
Brand Unique Imports
Model pending
Weight 8.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Cal-Hawk CBC25

The Cal-Hawk CBC25 are compatible with both 12 and 24 volt systems, making them strong enough for RVs and even military grade vehicles. Their clamps work with side and top posted batteries, so you shouldn't ever encounter a vehicle you can't jump.
  • aggressive parrot jaw shape
  • can span multiple parking spots
  • included bag is poor quality
Brand Cal-Hawk
Model CBC25
Weight 7.7 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Performance Tool W1673

The Performance Tool W1673 are ideal for larger trucks, vans and SUVs. Their bright blue wire and red and black clamps make them easy to identify in a messy trunk, and the covers on the clamps are extra long for added safety.
  • available in multiple gauges
  • good flexibility in cold weather
  • cable never gets crimped
Brand Performance Tool
Model W1673
Weight 5.8 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Katzco kz-16640

The Katzco kz-16640 have been produced with safety as a top concern, followed quickly by durability and performance. Nearly the entire clamp, from handles to the tips of the jaws, is covered with rubber or plastic, and they have a very strong grip on battery posts.
  • case has extra room for some tools
  • fully rubber coated wires
  • slightly textured clamp handles
Brand Katzco
Model kz-16640
Weight 12.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Allstart 564

The Allstart 564 can handle over 800 amps, making them suitable for heavy duty jobs like starting a big diesel pick-up truck. They have extra long cables for front, back or side hookup, and just might be able to blow up a Prius if you try and jump one.
  • good amount of insulation
  • rounded bag for compact storage
  • comfortable clamp grips
Brand Allstart
Model 564
Weight 9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. EPAuto AA-003-1

Budget-minded consumers who still want a high quality pair of jumper cables should consider the EPAuto AA-003-1. With a 4-gauge rating, they can handle the needs of most motorists, and they come with a travel bag to keep them safely stored when not in use.
  • include a pair of safety gloves
  • good conductivity
  • teeth provide a secure grip
Brand EPAuto
Model AA-003-1
Weight 6.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Energizer ENB-125

At 1 gauge, the Energizer ENB-125 are almost the thickest jumper cables you can buy; the only thing thicker are 0 gauge, and unless you are driving a semi-truck, that's complete overkill. They are also 25 feet long so you don't have to jockey the cars into position.
  • work on side and top post batteries
  • cables never get tangled up
  • suitable for all weather conditions
Brand Energizer
Model ENB-125
Weight 11.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Getting a Jump On Things: Buying Jumper Cables

If you don't have a pair of jumper cables in your car, you are inviting inconvenience into your life. While the average car battery lifespan is five years, many fail in much less time than that. And even a perfectly viable battery can drain in a matter of hours when you inadvertently leave on the headlights or a dome light. And should the car battery die when you most need your vehicle, like when you have a critical appointment to keep or even when an emergency necessitates sudden travel, a drained battery can be worse than inconvenient, it can be a disaster.

While it's fine to think of jumper cables as more of an insurance item -- e.g., something wise to have even if seldom used -- than a tool you will need in daily life, making the modest investment in a pair of decent cables is only wise. As you might expect, paying more will generally ensure you wind up with a high-quality pair that can last for a decade or more, and can jump a range of vehicle types from a little four cylinder Honda Civic to a heavy-duty Ford 3500 pick-up truck. If you use them but once in all the years you drive a car, they will generally have paid for themselves as calling for a tow or other roadside assistance is very costly.

If you are going to purchase lower-end jumper cables, then you will almost surely be considering options designed only for use with standard 12-volt automotive batteries and smaller engines. One of the main things to consider on this end of the scale is the length of the cable. If your car or truck has its battery placed to one side of the engine block and is easily accessible when the hood is raised, as is common with most cars, then it will be easy to locate and connect to the the battery terminals with a shorter pair of cables.

If your vehicle has its battery placed in an unusual spot, near the rear or set deep into the engine compartment, you'll require longer cables for a safe, clean connection. Jumper cables commonly measure 12-feet in length; surprisingly, these might fall short in many scenarios, especially if you are trying to connect two large vehicles (heavy duty pickup trucks, for example) or cars with unusual battery placement as already noted.

More expensive, heavy-duty cables, such as those rated 6 gauge or less, can be expected to work both with 12- and 24-volt batteries and to be safe for 500 amp loads and higher. These are usually suitable for automobiles as well as for heavy machinery that you might find on a farm or construction site. Look for special features such as glow-in-the-dark handles, non-kinking flexible rubber coatings, and lengths of up to 25 feet.

The Basic Steps of Jump Starting a Car

A car with an effectively dead battery may fail to give any indication of power, or it might create a repetitive clicking sound when you try the ignition. Once you have established that your car's battery is dead or so low on charge that it cannot start your vehicle, stop trying to turn it on to reduce the risk of damaging the car's electrical system.

The first step to jump starting a car is to position the afflicted vehicle and the car or truck providing the jump close enough that your cables can easily span the distance between the two batteries. Make sure the vehicles are not touching, are turned off with keys removed, and have their parking brakes set.

Next, make sure you can clearly identify the positive and negative terminals on both batteries and that they are clean and free of obstructions. Once you are ready to connect the cables, ensure the clamps cannot accidentally touch each other and start by connecting the red/positive cable to the drained battery's positive terminal (marked with a +), then the other positive clamp to the charge source. Next connect the black/negative cable to the powered car's negative battery terminals (shown with a -). Unlike when connecting the positive wire, you connect the negative wire to the car doing the jumping first. On the car being jumped (the one with the dead battery) the negative cable clamp should be attached directly to an exposed metal section of the frame, not the battery. This eliminates the risk of potentially igniting the battery from sparks or causing it to explode.

Now, turn on the functioning car, pause for a full minute, then switch on the afflicted vehicle. As soon as the second car has started, you may disconnect the cables, starting with the negative clamps first.

From this point on, the vehicle's running engine will charge its own battery assuming the alternator is functioning properly and the battery is still capable of holding a charge. Make sure you leave the afflicted vehicle running for 15-20 minutes before turning it back off, as your battery will teed time to rejuvenate itself.

Other Jump Starting Accessories to Consider

Along with a set of jumper cables, at the bare minimum your car's roadside preparedness kit should include all the tools and supplies needed to change a tire, a supply of water, and a source of light. (A headlamp is far and away the most useful device for illumination in this context.) Also, consider keeping a car escape tool close at hand, ideally in the glove box or center console.

As for the gear that can help to make the jump starting process safer and less of a hassle, some simple supplies will serve you well if ever needed. First, consider keeping a pair of work gloves in your car, with electrician's gloves being a particularly savvy choice, as they can reduce the chance of electric shock. Also, stock a clean rag and a solvent solution, such as isopropyl alcohol -- these will help clean battery terminals.

A large umbrella or plastic tarp that can be draped over the hood of a vehicle are both a good idea for use when dealing with a car battery during rainfall or snow. Also, beware of puddles of water on the ground in these conditions.

And finally, make sure you establish a highly visible working area while jumping a car. This means using the flashers of the car with the working battery, but also the deployment of cones, reflectors, and potentially even road flares. All of these items are affordable and, when used effectively as safety gear, priceless.

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Last updated on December 04, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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