The Best Jump Starters

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It always seems to happen when you’re running late. You rush out the door, kids in tow or briefcase in hand, jump in the car, turn the key, and — click. Click-click-click. Nothing. The battery is dead. A jump starter can be the difference between being on time or being hours late.

Even if you happen to have a set in your car, waiting around for a jump with traditional booster cables can waste hours. Even the CAA takes a long time to arrive when you call them. If your car is in an awkward spot, you might not even be able to get a vehicle alongside to jump your ride.

These days, portable jump starters are gaining popularity as the technology becomes more compact and more affordable. The best jump starter battery packs hold a charge for a long time in your car, are portable, and affordable. They make it easy to quickly refire your ride and get going and save the headache of being late. Booster packs are handy to have, easy to use, and might just make you the neighbourhood hero.

Here are some of our favourite jump starters to get you mobile faster.

1. Editor’s Pick: Noco Boost Plus GB40

1. Editor’s Pick: Noco Boost Plus GB40
  • Powerful
  • Excellent value
  • Carrying bag is flimsy

Key Specs

Max Amperage: 1000 amps
Suitable for: Pick-up trucks and smaller

The Noco Boost Plus GB40 is the line-ups best offering when it comes to affordable, powerful, long-lasting, and heavy-duty jump-starting ability. This is the booster pack I keep in my truck at all times, and it has rescued many a neighbour, stranger at the grocery store, and myself.

It is a multi-function pack that doubles as a portable power bank for your phone or tablet, and features seven modes of LED lighting, including an emergency strobe function. The powerful lights make it easy to see even in the dead of night, and the unit itself is compact enough to store easily in your glove compartment. It recharges in three hours using a USB input and you can also charge it using the DC outlet inside your vehicle, albeit more slowly.

This lithium-powered jump starter is good for up to 1000 amps and will start a 6.0L V8 or a 3.0L diesel up to 20 times. I’ve personally watched it fire a 5.7L V8 with a completely dead battery despite only showing two bars of charge on the device itself.

The Boost Plus comes with heavy-duty jumper cables as well as reverse polarity protection so it’s safe to use on any 12V battery. I do wish those cables were stored better when not in use as the supplied carrying bag is flimsy.

Many jump starters will refuse to send power to batteries they detect are completely drained but the Noco unit features a manual override, so the Boost Plus will always spark your ride to life.

2. Best Value: Stanley Fatmax J7CS Portable Power Station

2. Best Value: Stanley Fatmax J7CS Portable Power Station
  • Lots of features
  • Comes with air compressor
  • Charging solution is awkward

Key Specs

Max Amperage: 700 amps
Suitable for: Pick-up trucks and smaller

The Stanley Fatmax J7CS Portable Power Station packs a shocking number of features into a well-priced and potent package.

With 700 amps of peak power, the J7CS is more than capable of firing up any passenger vehicle on the road. It also includes three USB ports, an LED flashlight that rotates through 270 degrees, and most importantly: an 120 psi electric air compressor and air gauge.

The Fatmax needs to be charged with an extension cord, as the charging solution is a little awkward. There is a set male power plug points that protrude from the back of the unit, and you need to plug the female end of an extension lead into that, and then into the wall in your home or garage to charge. There is an optional DC charger available, but it is sold separately. You also have to charge the J7CS overnight after just one use. When not in use, you should charge it overnight once a month.

Still, once charged you have a full-featured automotive power pack and emergency station that can boost your battery and inflate your tires.

3. Best Heavy Duty: Jump-N-Carry JNC770B 1700 Peak Amp Premium 12-Volt Jump Starter

3. Best Heavy Duty: Jump-N-Carry JNC770B 1700 Peak Amp Premium 12-Volt Jump Starter
  • Extreme power
  • Robust build quality
  • Price

Key Specs

Max Amperage: 1700 amps
Suitable for: Farm equipment and passenger vehicles

Jump-n-Carry’s ultra-high strength jump starter packs a whopping 1700 amp of peak power and heavy-duty cables and clamps. Its 68-inch cable reach means you can get to the battery terminals in cars, trucks, boats, and heavy equipment of all shapes and sizes. The company’s PowerJaw clamps are designed to bite through corrosion to give you a strong connection when boosting your ride.

We like the built-in digital voltage gauge which will tell you if your alternator is working once your car is back running again, and also tell you how dead the battery is before you go to jump it.

It also features a pair of USB outlets and a 12V DC outlet for use as a portable power pack. You can charge the Jump-N-Carry with an included 12V DC cable or with the four-foot extension-style cord. Each JNC770B comes with a coupon to get your booster pack repaired or replaced for a small fee, even if you drive over it or damage it.

4. Best Home: Black+Decker J312B

4. Best Home: Black+Decker J312B
  • Excellent value
  • Neat storage
  • Not user friendly
  • Limited features

Key Specs

Max Amperage: 600 amps
Suitable for: Pick-up trucks and smaller

Black and Decker’s entry-level jump starter is a robust booster pack for keeping in the garage that comes with a great low price tag. This unit is capable of starting almost all vehicles once, and can be used either from its onboard battery, which is charged by a standard household plug, or while connected to mains power.

The carrying handle is convenient, but the industrial-style switchboard can be daunting for inexperienced users. The J312B can be used to charge devices via a USB outlet, but it doesn’t have any other features like LED lights.

We appreciate the low price, and this is a neatly designed device. The cables are self contained and neatly fold away against the fuselage of the unit when not in use. It won’t boost more than a few times on its charge and you can’t charge it by USB or 12V DC outlet, so the Black and Decker J312B is best used as your garage emergency kit.

5. Also Consider: Hereta HH-715 Digital Portable Power Station

5. Also Consider: Hereta HH-715 Digital Portable Power Station
  • Prodigious onboard power
  • Powers multiple devices
  • Heavy
  • Very expensive

Key Specs

Max Amperage: 900 amps
Suitable for: Pick-up trucks and smaller

If money is no object, the HH-715 Digital Portable Power Station is the absolute ideal portable jump starter to keep in your truck. This is a serious-business power station for the campsite or worksite, with an onboard jump starter capable of 900 amps peak power, which is sends through heavy-duty, six-gauge cables. There’s also an onboard 260 PSI digital air compressor, a 5V/2.1A USB port, two 12v DC outlets, and twin 400w, 110-volt AC inverter outlets that will allow up to 11a of draw.

It’s all powered by a single 12v 18aH lithium battery that is rechargeable via either a standard household plug or a DC outlet in your vehicle. There’s an LED work light, air pressure gauge for the inflator, and an analogue voltage gauge so you know exactly what state the battery is in. This will jump start your truck, power a coffee maker, and recharge your mobile devices all in one handy, albeit expensive, package.

How to Open a Car with Electric Locks When the Battery is Flat

If your car has keyless entry, you may have wondered how you’ll get into it if the battery goes flat. Even on cars with no apparent key connected to the fob — there is a way. If you look closely on your key fob, you might see a little plastic slider. Pushing it will release a small metal key that you can then insert into your car door to open it. If you can’t see the keyhole, don’t fret. It might be concealed inside your door handle, or underneath it, but it is there.

If you don’t see a slider, there is still a way to release the key. In some fobs, it is as simple as pulling up sharply on a small groove located in one of the corners. If you look closely, you’ll see a little ridge that you might not have noticed before. Pull at it to release your hidden key.

How to Jump Start a Car

The process for jump starting a car with jumper cables is slightly different to doing it with a jump starter. In both cases though, you should connect the positive (red) cables first. Here’s the process for jump starting a car with jumper cables:

1. Make sure both cars are turned off.
2. Lay the clamps you are going to connect to the good battery on the ground near that car. Don’t let them touch.
3. Take the positive lead in one hand, and the negative lead in another. Do no let them touch. Connect the positive lead (red) to the positive terminal.
4. Place the negative leave (black) on the ground if possible. If not, place it somewhere plastic (not meal) far from the battery – I often rest it on the radiator reservoir.
5. Connect the positive lead to the good battery.
6. Connect the negative lead to the negative terminal on the good battery.
7. Connect the negative lead for the bad battery to an exposed metal bolt on the chassis, engine, or engine mount. This is the best way to safely complete the circuit without causing a surge. It is unlikely you’ll do damage connecting it to the negative terminal directly, but it’s enough of a risk that you should do it the right way.
8. Start the “donor” car.
9. Start the previously dead car.
10. Disconnect the leads, removing the negative leads first, do not let the clamps touch until all the clamps are removed.
11. Drive your car for at least 15 minutes to make sure it is charged before turning it off.

The process for using a jump starter is much more simple:

1. Connect the positive lead to the positive terminal (red)
2. Connect the negative lead to the negative terminal (black)
3. Turn on the jump starter/press the “boost” button
4. Disconnect the negative lead
5. Disconnect the positive lead
6. Drive your car for at least 15 minutes to make sure it is charged before turning it off

And remember, if you have to boost your battery often, get it tested and replace it if necessary.

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