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Here’s the thing, most people don’t think too much about booster cables until you need them. Very few spend time thinking what are the best jumper cables for a vehicle? In fact, what makes one set of cables better than another? Aren’t they all just the same. The thing is, they aren’t.
Jumper cables are one of those things that you probably are fairly sure that you own a pair. When you first got a car perhaps your parents put a set in the trunk. Perhaps you’ve picked up a set of cables because you saw them in the store and wanted to make sure that you had some. Worst still, maybe you needed a jump and realized that you don’t have a pair.
If finding the best car battery cables has been a challenge for you so far, this post by our Garage Chief experts should be a great help. Not only we’ll go over some of the best options on the market but also give you some ideas as to what makes these the best and the things that you need to look for a high-quality set of booster cables. Let’s start.
Best Jumper Cables – Our Top Picks Compared
|editors-choice||Best Product||Best Value|
|item-title||Cartman Booster Cable 4 Gauge x 20Ft||Energizer 1-Gauge 800A Permanent installation kit Jumper Cables 30 Ft||EPAuto 6 Gauge x 16 Ft Heavy Duty Booster Jumper Cables||20 Foot Jumper Cables with Carry Bag - 8 Gauge, 400 AMP Booster Cable Kit||OxGord Jumper Cable 4 Gauge x 25 Ft Commercial Grade 500 AMP|
|• Fits top and side post batteries|
• Twice grip design for better conductivity and tension.
• Patented design of inside tongue for double connection with battery terminal
|• Copper Clad Aluminum Tangle free cables|
• 800A heavy duty professional grade clamps
• Great for installation on towing trucks
|• No-tangle cable. Copper-plated Clamps|
• Heavy Duty 6 Gauge cable
• Booster Cable comes with a travel bag and a pair of safety working gloves
|• Tangle free cables|
• Versatile jumper cable designed to work in all weather climates
• Lifetime replacement warranty
|• Fully Shielded Clamps for added protection
• Carrying case included for storage and portability
• Made by OxGord, a trusted brand
|editors-choice||Best Product||Best Value|
Best Booster Cable Reviews – Read Before You Buy
If you are just looking for some of the top contenders for best jumper cables, this is the place to look. We have tracked down six of the top-quality cables that you can purchase. We’ve highlighted some options like the wire gauge and the length of each pair of cables.
One thing that you will want to do is consider is your particular needs. When in doubt a longer pair of cables is better, as you can’t always get vehicles positioned to give you the shortest distance between the batteries. That extra length gives you more options when you or someone else needs a jump.
Cartman Best Booster Cables 4 Gauge x 20Ft (4AWG x 20Ft)
Gauge: 4 Gauge
Length: 20 Ft
Extra Features: Carry bag included, low temperature resistance
If you are looking for the best of the jumper cables that we came across you need look no further than the Cartman Booster Cable. This set of cables is a full 20 feet long, though there is a 16 foot long option if you are looking to save a few dollars. This set of cables is made of 4 gauge wire, while it isn’t the biggest cable size that you can find on the market it does nicely bridge the balance between being lightweight and large enough to charge quickly.
This set of cables comes with a carry bag to keep the cables from being tangled with other objects in your trunk. The clamps have been designed to provide better conductivity and tension than other cables and will work well with batteries that feature posts on either the top or the side of the battery.
The cables have been rated to work well even in low temperatures and will function well all the way down to 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. They also include working gloves to keep you safe while working. These cables have been listed by UL, showing they are safe to work as they were designed.
EPAuto 6 Gauge x 16 Ft Heavy Duty Booster Jumper Cables with Travel Bag and
Gauge: 4 Gauge
Length: 16 Ft
Extra Features: Includes working gloves and carrying case
If you are searching for a high-quality set of jumper cables while still looking to save some money you’ll want to keep an eye on our pick for the best value jumper cables, the EPAuto Heavy Duty Booster Jumper Cables.
These cables are only 16 feet long. They are 6 gauge, so they are a touch thinner than other cables you might find listed here, but are still designed to work well with cars, SUVs, motorcycles, and vans. These wires are solid copper, but they are stranded. The cables have a good amount of flex to them, allowing you to easily move them into whatever position your find that you need them to go to.
This set comes with a set of working gloves to keep you safe and your hands clean while you are working with the cables, particularly when one of the cars is running and the cable is energized. The set also comes with a carry case to keep the cables from getting mixed up with other objects stored in your vehicle. This set is a great deal at under $15.
Energizer 1-Gauge 800A Jumper Battery Cables with Quick Connect plug 30 Ft Booster Jump Start ENB-130 (Long Jumper Cables, Permanent Installation Kit)
Gauge: 1 Gauge
Length: 30 Ft
Extra Features: Hardware for permanent connection, carry case included
The Energizer Permanent installation kit Jumper Cables are the thickest that you will find on this list as they are the only pair to make the cut that is a 1 gauge wire. This will result in the fastest charge, but as they are thicker will also meant that you have a heavier cable than other options on the market.
These also stand out in that they come with a set up for a permanent installation. A piece of wire has tabs that get screwed onto the battery posts, the other end features a quick connector. One end of the wire features another quick connector so you can easily attach it to your battery. The other end of the wire sports standard clamps.
This is a great feature that makes connecting easy on your end, but it also means that you have to have your car involved when using this set of cables. These cables have been rated for all weather usage and have been crafted to remain flexible even down to 40 degrees below zero on the Celsius scale. These come with a cardboard box with handle for storage.
Capri Tools UL-Listed Booster Jumper Cables, 4 AWG, 20 ft long
Gauge: 4 Gauge
Length: 20 Ft
Extra Features: Comes with a storage bag and spring loaded clamps
Another great option when searching for the best booster cables is the Capri Tools Booster Jumper Cables. These cables come in at 20 foot long to give you a fairly good range. They are crafted from 4 gauge wire, which many companies making high-quality cables feel is the sweet spot between lightweight and large size for a faster charge.
The heavy duty clamps sport spring loaded jaws to ensure that you keep a good connection to the battery terminal even when you deal with the vibration of the car’s engine.
These cables have been listed by Underwriter’s Laboratory to show that they are safe for use as they were designed. The clamps are PVC coated for safe handling during usage. This set of cables comes with a 10 year warranty showing that the company is willing to stand behind their product. And to support tangle free storage a storage bag is supplied with the cables.
These cables are a copper plated aluminum. They are rated for up to 400 amps. There are some reports that these cables, while being advertised as 4 gauge, may truly be closer to a 8 gauge wire.
20 Foot Jumper Cables with Carry Bag – 8 Gauge, 400 AMP Booster Cable Kit
Gauge: 8 Gauge
Length: 20 Ft
Extra Features: Includes carrying case, lifetime warranty
If you are looking for another great low cost booster cable option, the Iron Forge Jumper Cables with Carry Bag are a great option.
These cables are only an 8 gauge wire and they are a copper plated wire. However the set of cables is rated for use with up to 400 amps, meaning that you should not have any problem with most standard capacity batteries.
The set is 20 foot long, to give you room to jump a car, even if you have to park behind it. To show that they are safe these cables are ETL listed.
As with most all jumper cables, these are color coded for ease of use. They are also listed as being a tangle free set of cables, which can be quite the useful option as there is not much worse than having to untangle a set of cables on a cold rainy night to get your car started again.
These cables come with a lifetime warranty to show that the company is willing to stand behind the product that they are offering. This set does come with a carry case for storage between uses.
OxGord Jumper Cable 4 Gauge x 25 Feet Commercial Grade 500 AMP Non Tangle
Battery Booster Starter with Carry Case
Gauge: 4 Gauge
Length: 25 Ft
Extra Features: Copper plated jaws, carry case included
For an option that is longer than many of the other cables listed take a look at the OxGord Jumper Cable set. This is another option on our list that comes in that sweet spot of 4 gauge to be easy to use and lightweight while still being flexible enough to use easily and quickly.
The cables themselves are copper coated aluminum. The cables sport high-quality clamps with copper plated jaws to ensure great connectivity with battery terminals. The clamps are designed to work well with both top mounted and side mounted battery terminal posts. This is another set of non tangle cables to keep from fighting with them.
The clamps have been fully shielded for your protection while working with them. Additionally, this set of cables have been rated for up to 500 amps. They are 25 feet long, which gives you a little more working room than the 20 feet that many cables come in. Perhaps one of the best parts of these cables is that even at the price point of just under $20 they provide you a quality set of cables without breaking the bank.
What to Look for in the Best Jumper Cables – Practical Tips
Now that we’ve given you a look at what we think are some of the best options on the market we’ll go over some of the basics of what to look for in a good-quality set of cables.
How Do Jumper Cables Work?
At a very basic level jumper cables are just any other kind of electrical cable. Every type of cable like this has a simple job, no matter if it is the power cable for your computer or the wires in your wall. All of these wires are there to move electricity from a source to where you need it.
Jumper cables differ a little from some of these other cables though. Wires in your wall are not going to be moved, they are permanently connected to a source (wherever the power enters you home) and where you will be using it (normally a power outlet). Your computer power cord is disconnect able, which is closer to a set of booster cables.
The jumper cables however don’t have a regular plug like other wires. These come with a set of clamps on each end. These clamps are where the connections are made. This means that you are fully responsible for ensuring things are hooked up correctly.
The power source is normally a charged battery on a running car. The place you need power is a car that won’t turn on.
What Features Do You Need in a Battery Jump Start Cables?
Wire gauge might seem backwards, but the larger the gauge is the thinner the wire. When you are looking for jumper cables a thinner wire means that less energy can move through from one car to another. There are some cables that are as small as 20-gauge, but these smaller cables will take a longer time to charge a battery.
On the other side as the number of the gauge gets smaller, the wire gets larger. A 2-gauge cable is about the largest you will normally be able to find. While this will mean a larger cable, it does add weight, so you will have to balance the quickness of a charge vs the weight of the cables.
Additionally, most jumper cables are built to handle a standard battery. If you find yourself larger capacity batteries you might need to get a set of cables that are on the beefier side. A smaller set of wire may end up causing more issues.
All jumper cables will come with some level of insulation. Normally the amount of insulation is based on the gauge of the wire. You will want to demand that the cables have been tested by an outside source like Underwriters Laboratory (they put that UL logo on things).
You will also want to ensure that the insulation is not worn, cracked or pulled off. Any holes in your insulation is a spot that can discharge and cause issue or injury while you are working on your car.
A quality set of cables will have some manner insulation on the clamps/handles. This means that any area of the cable that you might be handling will have a layer of protection built in.
Batteries are in different locations in different cars, in an ideal world you’ll be able to pull the charged car right up next to the dead car so the distance between batteries is minimal. While this is no doubt how all graphics will show the process, in the real world it is not always the case.
More length means that you will have more flexibility of where to put your charged car and still be able to reach the dead battery. The downside of the longer cable is that once again there is more weight. If you go with a low gauge long set of cables, you might find yourself with quite a heavy set of cables to move around.
At a basic level, the clamps need to be able to attach to the battery terminals. However, if you look closely at the clamps you will notice that some are larger (and therefore easier to use). Also, some clamps are heavy duty so that they will not bend or otherwise warp from years of use.
When comparing clamps, you should look at how many teeth are on each clamp. These teeth keep the clamp from sliding off the battery terminal due to engine vibration. You will also want to make sure that the handles of your clamp are well insulated for your safety during use.
Nowadays there are all kinds of extras that can be added to your purchase of booster cables. The perhaps most useful extra that you might want to consider is a carrying bag. This will allow you to keep your cables stored in such a way that they won’t get tangled up, but they also can help keep the insulation from getting cut.
Some sets will also offer you a quick reference card so that you can double check that you have everything connected properly. Some people like the sets that add a pair of gloves to use when you are working with your jumper cables.
How Do I hook up Car Booster Cables?
The first thing to consider when you are hooking up jumper cables is to remember that this can be dangerous.
While a well-maintained set of cables when used correctly is nothing to fear, but at the same time if you grab the wrong part at the wrong time there is some serious ability to injure yourself.
Always remember to make sure that all the insulation is in good condition and only handle the cables in a safe manner.
The first thing that you need to do if you have a car with a dead battery is to find a car with a charged battery and get those two batteries as close as possible (they need to stay in the car). Next turn off both cars, ensure they are in park and pop open the hoods.
The first connection to be made is the positive side of one cable to the positive terminal of the battery on the dead car. Often the positive is colored red, the battery may have some kind of cover that might need to be removed prior to jumping the car. Next, you’ll want to connect the positive cable to the positive terminal of the charged battery.
After your positive cables are connected you will start with the negative cable to be connected to the charged battery’s negative terminal. Often the negative side will be colored black. The negative cable will then be connected to something metal on the dead car. This will help to ground the connection.
Now you will need to start the car that has the charged battery. As it runs it will charge the dead battery. After some time, you can try turning on the car with the dead battery. Once you get it running you will to safely disconnect all the cables, in the reverse order that you connected them.
You will want to let the now running car run for a little while or drive it. This will let the alternator recharge your battery. If you find that your battery keeps dying, it could mean that you need a new battery.
Remember that if your car has an electronic ignition system or is an alternatively fueled vehicle, the jump starting with booster cables may damage it.
Where to Buy Jumper Cables and How Much do They Cost?
When you are looking for a pair of jumper cables you will find that you can find them for a wide range of prices. There are plenty that can be found for under $10.
While that might not be bad if you need a set of cables right now and have no other options, these are probably going to be a thinner wire (that will take a longer time to charge) and lower quality clamp and insulation. At the other end of the spectrum you could find yourself paying close to $100 or more to acquire a pair.
Just remember that you are investing in a tool that you will want to rely on without fail when you need it.
You are investing in a tool that you will want to rely on without fail.
As far as where to find a pair of jumper cables, the answer is nearly anywhere. You can find these in hardware stores, big box stores, automotive stores and they show up in other places as well. The problem is that these stores may only stock one or two options. So if you have gone online to find the details of a set of cables that does exactly what you want you may have to look at some other sources.
An online retailer like pick them up at Amazon may be a good option in this search. While they offer competitive pricing they also have a very wide range of options, so if you wanted to go with one of our choices or just look through the buyer’s guide and select an option for yourself, they will have a set for you.
Additionally they tend to have fairly quick shipping to ensure that you get your cables fast and have a good return set up, so that if you find you picked up the wrong set you don’t need to worry about exchanging them.
When connecting your jumper cables, I cannot stress how important it is to make sure that you complete the process safely. While you are first hooking up your cables there shouldn’t be any electricity flowing, but once you turn on the vehicle the power will start to flow. Any bare metal surface on your set of cables can cause that juice to be transferred from the cables to you.
Also, remember that if you have higher capacity batteries a thin or cheaply made cable can cause you some problems. As the electricity flows it can cause the cables to heat up. A cable with minimal insulation can end up causing damage to the cable, your car or you.
Best Jumper Cables – The Bottom Line
You should now have all the information that you need to pick out whichever is the best jumper cables for your particular needs. If you aren’t sure what to go for you can always stick with our pick of the best product in the market place today and go with the Cartman Booster Cable. However, any of our picks are sure to get the job that you need done.
Additionally, we have shown you in the buyer’s guide what you should consider in a set of the best booster cables. While many of the high quality offerings are found in a 4 gauge wire, perhaps the biggest differentiator to be found is the length. Remember that a longer cable can always cover a shorter gap, but the reserve is not true. Be sure to get one that is longer than you think you will need, you’ll be surprised how useful those couple extra feet of cable can be.
Lastly, we’d love to hear from you on the subject. Do you have any experience with any of our picks? If so it would be great if you could let us know about it in the comments section below.
How to Properly Jump Start a Car
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