A dead vehicle can be frustrating when it happens in the driveway of your home. It can be flat-out dangerous if it happens when you’re out and about with no easy access to help. Does your car have a recall? Tap or click here for ways to find out.
Keeping jumper cables in your car to fix a dead battery is fine, but you’ll need another person around with a car to make it work. And that isn’t always a reality.
Luckily, there’s a better option. Portable jumpers are great to keep around for emergencies, and they’ve gotten better and less expensive over the years. If you’re worried about car troubles, you may want to keep one in your vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about these portable jump starters.
How portable car battery jumpers work
Unlike jumper cables, portable jump starters work without another vehicle to get the “jump” from. They’re not only able to get your battery up and running when it’s dead but are also basically a battery bank for your car battery, much like your cell phone. So, the benefits are two-fold.
They’re small enough to keep on hand, too. These devices are compact enough to fit inside your glove box, so you’ll have easy access to a jump start right in your glove box or trunk.
When you’re shopping for these devices, it’s important to understand that while similar, portable car battery jumpers aren’t the same thing as car battery chargers. Chargers can get your battery juiced back up when it’s dead, but they take a day or two to work.
Portable jump starters, on the other hand, are instant. You connect them and jump your battery back to life, just like you would with jumper cables.
There are tons of options on the market for portable jump starters. If you need a starting point, the options below are some of the best on the market.
1. Good all-around option that also works with diesel engines
You'll get up to 20 jump-starts on a single charge, so this car battery jump starter is a great tool to keep around if you have ongoing battery issues. It's also rated for both gasoline engines up to 6 liters and diesel engines up to 3 liters, so if you've got a diesel truck you're buying for, this is what you need.
It's a great option for car repair novices, too. The mistake-proof design features spark-proof technology and reverse polarity protection, so you won't have to worry about damaging your battery or vehicle due to complicated instructions. As a bonus, it also works as a power bank for recharging smartphones, tablets and other USB devices — which could be useful in emergencies.
Promising review: "So far this is an awesome find. 7,000 joules and 1,000 amps. Heavy duty clamps. The cords are short but the unit is so small and lightweight that I could put it right near the battery jump hookups. My 5.3L V8 had a very dead battery. Nothing would light up on the dash. ... The battery was so dead that I had to hold an elevated engine idle for a while. This shows how dead the battery was, but the NOCO did the job. Very impressive. It only weighs 2.6 pounds which is about one-tenth the weight of equivalent battery jumpers."
2. Jumps batteries and has an air compressor, too!
It's super easy to use, too, making it great for beginners. All you have to do is connect the clamps to the battery, turn on the switch and start your car. You'll get an alert if there's an improper connection and you'll also get a built-in LED light so you can see in the dark.
This portable power station jump starter also doubles as an air compressor, so you can use it when your tires are low, too. It's a great tool to keep on hand for emergencies.
Promising review: "Purchased this unit about a year ago and it paid off this past week. While visiting Glacier National Park my in-laws rental car (a 2017 Ford Expedition) had issues starting all week. Rather than going through the hassle of moving my truck face-to-face with their car to use traditional jumper cables I simply popped the hood and jumped it. We got about 4 jumps off of one charge. ... It is a great tool and I highly recommend this product."
3. Good for those on a budget and with a smaller vehicle
For less than $40, you'll get a car jump starter with enough power to jump-start most vehicles. It's great for people with small cars, and will jump-start vehicles with up to 4.0L gas or 2.0L diesel engines.
It comes with a ton of safety features, too. It has built-in intelligent security functions with advanced highly quality jumper clamps, which can protect your devices from over-current, short-circuit, overload, over-voltage and over-charge, reverse polarity and reverse connection.
Promising review: "Super amazing, convenient, efficient and dependable. Highly recommended. Get rid of your old jumper/chargers this lil' buddy will do the job.."
4. More power than the other NOCO, capable of jumping a V8
So, if you're looking for a powerful portable jump starter, this is it. This compact device gives you 2,000 amps of battery power, which is up to 40 jump starts on a single charge. It's rated for gasoline engines up to 8 liters and diesel engines up to 6 liters, so it's a great device to keep around if your car engine is more powerful than the average vehicle.
It comes with a ton of safety features, too. You won't have to worry about incorrect connections or sparks, and you can safely connect to any 12-volt automotive car battery via the mistake-proof design. It's easy to use, great for experts or novices and is powerful enough to jump and charge just about any battery.
Promising review: "As soon I pressed the manual boost button, that's all she wrote. The van started right up without an issue. Since then I have used it three times on the same van without an issue."
5. Nice all-around charger and jump starter at an affordable price
Aside from the 30 amp quick boost and 1H2:L1600A jump start, which powerful enough to start SUVs, trucks and large batteries, you'll get a battery and alternator tester with this device. That feature tells you the charge level and can help diagnose electrical issues with your battery.
It also comes with multi-stage charging and auto-voltage detection for added precision, safety and battery life. It's a great device to keep on hand, and it's perfect for people who have ongoing battery issues that they want to keep an eye on.
Promising review: "The charger works as advertised. As with any charger it is important to remove any latent surface charge from the battery so the charger can read an accurate voltage. I found this charger read accurate battery charge. If you find it was at say 70% while charging, you disconnect and reconnect and it says 100% that is the surface charge. Turn your headlight on for 30 seconds before connecting the charger the second time and it will read accurately."