Top 8 Best Jumper Cables
By | Last updated: August 20, 2021
best jumper cables

Twisting the key (or, more accurately these days, pushing the button) only to come up with a fistful of no-go can be a huge pain in the neck. While the root cause can be any number of maladies, identifying the fix as a simple jump-start gets you going – at least for now. Stashing a set of jumper cables in the trunk of your car or under the front seat of your pickup truck is cheap insurance against being left stranded in the cold with a flat battery and a long walk to nowhere.

Yeah, thanks to Stranger Danger and America’s love of litigation one may have to ask a few more good Samaritans before finding a person who’s willing to help boost the battery of your car than one would have had to ask twenty years ago. Thanks, internet. Nevertheless, there are more than a few good souls left on this earth, so all is not lost if you need to use one of these bad boys the next time you leave yer headlights on during a trip to Walmart.

Note well: the gauge rating of jumper cable wire operates in reverse fashion to just about every other measurement in the world. Here, a smaller number means a thicker cable – sets made with 1-gauge wire are hardier than sets made with 8-gauge wire. #TheMoreYouKnow.

1. Editor’s Choice: Energizer 1-Gauge 800A Heavy Duty Jumper Battery Cables 25 Ft

Overkill? Hell, yeah. Better than not having enough cable? Yewbetcha. This 1-gauge set of heavy duty jumper cables are just the ticket for starting anything from a Toyota Corolla to a stalled-out Death Star. Your author knows all too well the danger and despair of having lightweight jumper cables — not enough juice and a set of cables heating up faster than a politician’s hot seat.

This set is 25 feet in length from lobster claw to lobster claw, meaning one should have more than enough slack to reach between stricken car and saviour car. The clamps deploy a strong spring and a comfortable handle for secure placement and easy positioning. Fits both top and side post batteries, if you’re still rocking a 1990 Pontiac 6000. Thick 1-gauge cables should remain flexible even in the coldest Colorado climates.

Pros/Burly capability, thick gauge wire, great brand name
Cons/Costly
Bottom Line/Trust us and get the 1-gauge cables

Why shop for jumper cables when you can purchase a portable jump starter instead? These ingenious devices can boost a car on their own without requiring you to rely on another vehicle, making them truly indispensable in an emergency situation. And the XenonPro JS1003 Portable Jump Starter and air compressor is one of the hottest on the market. Packing an impressive 800 amp punch and a battery life of up to 20,000mAh (milliamp hours), this premium lithium-ion car battery jumper can boost a vehicle with an engine up to 6.0L and help get you back on the road in no time.

Perfectly sized to take up permanent residence in your trunk without taking up too much real estate, this portable and ultra-light car battery booster is said to be capable of jump-starting up to 25 cars on one single charge. Meanwhile, XenonPro’s proprietary SmartBoost jumper cables offer reverse polarity, overcharge and short circuit protection.

It’s the multipurpose versatility that truly sets this portable jump starter apart though: the two USB charging ports on its flanks permit the charging of devices and other electronics, making it an ideal companion while camping. The unit can also be paired with a handy air compressor for a few extra bucks, with the ability to inflate a tire in under 10 minutes flat. Further adding to the product’s utility is the powerful LED flashlight built-in, making this a uniquely handy addition to any roadside emergency kit.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit more powerful, XenonPro has you covered with five different portable jump starter models to meet your exact needs and budget.

*This is a sponsored placement.

Pros/Portable, doesn’t require help of another vehicle, small and lightweight, doubles as a portable battery pack and flashlight, comes with a portable air compressor add-on
Cons/Opt for the upgraded model if you require a higher battery capacity
Bottom Line/Quick power right at hand

3. Budget Choice: EPAuto 4 Gauge Jumper Cables

Sometimes, peace of mind takes the form of having a set of jumper cables in the spare tire well of your daily ride (or underneath the bench seat, depending on the type of whip you’re rocking). This set of jumper cables are cheaper than a couple of fast food meals, making them cheap insurance from being stranded roadside. Measuring 20 feet long and packing reasonable 4-gauge wire, these cables come with a carrying bag and set of work gloves.

We’d love to test the ‘no tangle’ claim since most of these things are as easy to coil up as an oak tree. Nevertheless, real-world ratings are stellar, aggregating for a 4.8 out of 5-star rank based upon the feedback of nearly 6,000 customers. Other gauges of cable are available from the same manufacturer, including a stout 1-gauge, but we recommend staying away from the el cheapo 6-gauge cables.

Pros/Great price, top-shelf reviews
Cons/Not the longest set on this list
Bottom Line/Cheap insurance against calamity

4. Booster Cable 4 Gauge x 20Ft Heavy Duty Cable with Reverse Polarity Protection

There’s no shame in asking for a bit of help, whether it’s when picking out a bottle of wine for the evening or trying to use a set of jumper cables. For those not aware, reversing the polarity between cars (hooking a positive terminal to a negative terminal and vice versa) will cause much calamity and, at the very least, some extremely expensive noises. Fire is not out of the question.

The smart protector on these cables will protect from such short circuiting. When the connection is successful, a green “ok” LED will light up. If you have applied the clamps incorrectly, the smart protector will alarm and the “wrong” red LED will light up, notifying you of your boneheaded error. Your author enjoys how the fault light is labeled with a blithe “wrong” instead of “error” or something more friendly.

Pros/Reverse polarity protection, 4-gauge construction
Cons/Only 20 feet long
Bottom Line/Don't be embarrassed to use the polarity feature

5. Professional 1 Gauge 24 Ft Quick Disconnect Jumper-Booster Cable Set

Here’s a set of jumper cables that are meant for permanent installation on a tow truck or some other sort of recovery vehicle. Heavy duty 1-gauge cable is terminated with a set of eyelets on one end, meant to be connected to a well-grounded raw power source. Those wires terminate at a quick disconnect, one which should be mounted somewhere handy and easy to access.

The cables and clamps used to boost a stricken vehicle are then plugged into this quick disconnect junction box. It’s a handy solution that permits someone to offer a boost to another car without having to lift the hood of their own. That connector is said to be weather resistant but it would probably be a poor idea to submerge it in bog water while off-roading. Electricity and water don’t tend to mix, kids.

Pros/Very convenient design (after installation), easy access, 1-gauge cable
Cons/Installation is rather permanent
Bottom Line/One gauge, infinite convenience

6. AmazonBasics Jumper Cable, 10 Gauge x 12 Ft

These things are the equivalent of packing a set of throwaway hotel flip flops when you go to the beach. If you need them, fine. Just don’t expect to get a whole ton of use out of the things. This cable set would likely be useful for someone who’s trying to boost a small car that doesn’t need many cranking amps to get going.

Beyond that, this 10-gauge wire is likely to overheat very quickly. Trying to start your author’s V8-powered pickup truck or beloved eight-cylinder Lincoln would zap these cables into oblivion. Also, the ones shown here are just 12 feet long, meaning the dead and donor cars will probably have to be parked nose to nose in order for them to reach anything useful.

Pros/Very affordable
Cons/Short length, thin wire
Bottom Line/Spend a bit more and get a lot more

7. Industrial Heavy Duty Jumper Cables, 1 Gauge x 40 Ft

If this set of cables won’t reach the distance you require, may we gently recommend not boosting cars located in a ditch or far side of the parking lot. Stretching an enormous 40 feet in length, these 1-gauge brutes are just the ticket for when you’ve pulled up to your buddy’s rig and find the dead battery in an inconvenient location.

The lack of ad copy for this product is frankly terrifying, as if you’re sending money to a company that couldn’t be arsed to describe their product. Still, greater than four out of five customers gave these things four or five stars, so they must have received something for their cash. While a couple of people claim the cables ‘melted’ as soon as they were connected, methinks there’s a dose of user error in those situations.

Pros/Super long length, largely positive reviews
Cons/Troubling lack of ad detail
Bottom Line/Judge your purchases accordingly

8. AWELTEC Heavy Duty Jumper Cables, 0 Gauge x 25 Ft

If robust 1-gauge cables are good, then thicc 0-gauge cables are even better. These brutes feature enormous alligator clamps and wiring nearly as wide as your wrist. Ok, the last superlative is a bit of a stretch but there’s no doubt these cables should handle all but the most demanding of jump-starting situations (such as getting your Panzer tank on the go).

Despite its curious brand name, it comes with a set of gloves and a wire terminal brush plus a carrying bag for good measure. In fact, the seller boasts these cables can bring to life engines up to 10.L in displacement for gasoline engines and 8.0L if you’re in command of a diesel. The clamps, by the way, are covered in non-conducting rubber.

Pros/Brutish capability, comes with accessories
Cons/Weirdo brand name
Bottom Line/A great blast from the '80s

Jumper Cables FAQ:

How to use jumper cables?

Very carefully. Make sure the cars aren’t touching, for starters, especially if they are old-school rides with metal bumpers. Connect the cables extremely carefully, making absolutely certain they are hooked up to the correct terminals, and remove them with an equal level of care when the job is done. Also, don’t take this advice as the be-all-end-all of jumper cable how-to; always be sure to read the instructions and call for help if you’re uncertain about any part of the procedure.

What size jumper cables are required?

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to buy the most robust set you can reasonably afford. Look for a rating of the cable gauge, which is always represented by a number. In this instance, like golf, the lower number is better. A 0-gauge cable, for example, is much thicker and can withstand much greater electrical loads than a 12-gauge cable.

Changes:

  • Modified introduction
  • Added FAQ
  • Added Bottom Line to all products
  • Replaced #3, #7, & #8 (availability)
  • Reduced list to 8 products

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: SpeedKingz / ShutterStock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

13 Comments on “Best Jumper Cables: Let’s Start Something...”


  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    they’re color-coded read and black so you won’t mix up the polarity, dummy.

    RED, not read, dummy ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      And sometimes the light is poor, the battery dirty, the symbols obscured, or the red terminal cover is long gone.

      And nobody will ever be as flawless as you.

      Be satisfied, but please be quiet.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    I have a pair of jumper cables I acquired from SEARS (remember them) dating to 1983. These specifically have extensions that fit the side mounted leads on old GM batteries like my ’83 Cutlass Supreme. Still in great shape and have saved a few others as the years have gone by.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I’m not sure how these reverse polarity indicators save your bacon, your battery or your car’s electronics. By the time you have connected the two batteries plus to minus and minus to plus, you have formed a nice short circuit between the two batteries. All hell will break loose instantly not just “wrong.”

  • avatar
    NeilM

    If there’s one jumper cable set I would *not* buy, it’s the #1 choice here. Look how bulky the nose of each alligator clip is. Many, perhaps most, battery terminals on modern cars are recessed or shrouded such that only slender, pointy clips can effectively access them.

    • 0 avatar
      AlexMcD

      Same thought here. I don’t think the clamps are insulated either. These must have been designed in the 60’s for commercial use. I’ve jump started 100’s of cars and very few will allow these clamps to fit.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    One should look at how the cables respond to cold weather. Some are designed to remain pliable in extreme cold. They are useless if you can’t unwind them or they crack when you do.

  • avatar
    RHD

    One of the links is NOT to Amazon. I think they made a mistake!

    Watch for CCA cables – that means Copper Clad Aluminum. The wires are aluminum, not copper (which is expensive). It’s the equivalent of Gold Filled Jewelry in auto accessories. Most of these also come from China, even the name brands. Too bad Amazon doesn’t tell you that before you make up your mind.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    “0” gauge is correctly and typically expressed as “1/0” gauge. And that’s some unnecessarily big wire. I’ve got some very compact 10 AWG cables for my Mazda Miata, which I’ve used and they get the job done. About 1 ohm per 1000/ft, or about 2.4V drop at 100A, plus whatever the clamps cost you. Sounds like a lot but series wound starter motors rely on current, not voltage.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    A long time ago, a friend had a set with an on/off switch in the middle of the cable. You could hook them up in any order you wanted, not worry about accidentally grounding against anything, and then turn it on when you were ready. I’ve not seen another set like them (nor have I looked too hard)

  • avatar
    TR4

    “Note well: the gauge rating of jumper cable wire operates in reverse fashion to just about every other measurement in the world. Here, a smaller number means a thicker cable — sets made with 1-gauge wire are hardier than sets made with 8-gauge wire.”

    Not so! Sheet metal, shotguns, and number size drill bits all have lower number = bigger. I expect there are other examples.

  • avatar
    probert

    Those little lithium jumper packs are fantastic. Why buy a cable if there ain’t a battery on the other end.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    I have a set of cables I bought at Sears in the early 80’s. They have special clamps to attach to the side post on batteries used on GM cars at the time. Plan to hold on to them till I can’t drive any more.

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