The winter months, particularly in northern states, are hard on car batteries. At colder temperatures, batteries can lose up to 60 percent of their strength, while cold engines can require twice as much current to get started. With the high demands of modern electronics in cars, battery life tends to be shorter than in decades past. When the temperature drops, roadside assistance calls rise, many of which are requests for jump starts.
In order to avoid having to make that call, you can purchase a rechargeable, portable car jump starter. These units will generally offer at least ten jump starts per charge, and are conveniently sized to fit in the trunk. Some are multi-functional, while others are focused on providing superior jump start capability. The ones we’ve chosen are all 12-volt units made for modern passenger cars and trucks. If you have something larger than a 1-ton pickup truck, a tractor, or an older vehicle, verify that it’s using a 12-volt system if you plan to purchase any of these units.
If you’re stocking up on items to use in an automotive emergency, you might also want to peruse our list of the top five best emergency car kits.
Please note: Many jump starters use hazardous materials and cannot be returned. Be sure you’re getting the one you want before you buy.
With winter around the corner, you’ll want to ensure you have a jump starter on hand in case of emergencies.
Portable Jump Starter
These units generally offer ample cranking power in addition to being portable. Many of them are multifunction, including built-in air compressors, charging outlets, and lights.
1. Stanley J5C09 1000 Peak Amp Jump Starter with Built in Compressor
This Stanley unit is the best-selling, most-wished-for jump starter on Amazon. It features 1,000 peak amps with 500 amps of instant starting power, which should be enough for most cars and SUVs. The built-in air compressor can get up to 120 PSI and is a great added feature, since in colder temperatures, tire pressures can occasionally decrease below safe operating pressure.
Other features include DC & USB charging outlets, a high-powered LED light, and a reverse polarity alarm.
2. Jump-N-Carry JNC300XL 900 Peak Amp Ultraportable 12V Jump Starter with Light
Billed as “ultraportable,” this nine-pound unit from Clore Automotive offers 900 peak amps and 225 cold cranking amps. At these power levels, this unit would be best for cars with smaller batteries, as opposed to SUVs and trucks. It may still work in those applications, but typically higher amperage is better for larger vehicles. This is a fairly basic unit, but it still includes a light for nighttime jumps.
3. Jump-N-Carry JNC660 1700 Peak Amp 12-Volt Jump Starter
Like its little sibling the 300XL, this Jump-N-Carry pack is relatively spartan compared to many on the market. It features on DC outlet in addition to the jumper function. This one, however, offers 1,700 peak amps and 425 cranking amps, making it much better suited to larger applications up to a 1-ton pickup. A commenter notes that AAA uses this model and during his employment, he used it 2,000 times in a year, making this a much more heavy-duty unit. Additionally, you can buy a replacement battery for it down the road.
4. Duracell 600 Watt Powerpack Pro
This Duracell pack is aimed more at being a power source away from home via two 600-watt AC outlets and two 2.4 amp USB ports. Still, with 1,300 peak amps, this should be enough to jump start virtually any passenger car. It also features an air compressor capable of 150 PSI. It’s a bit of a beast at 22 pounds, but the weight is justified by the functionality.
There is an adjustable LED light for dark conditions, as well as alarms for overload, overheat, and reversed polarity. An AC cord and inflating needles can be found in the compartment beneath the handle. Buyers report using it as a reliable short-term backup during power outages.
Price: $173.44 (21 percent off MSRP)
5. Schumacher PSJ-4424 DSR ProSeries 4400 Peak Amps Jump Starter and Portable Power Unit
So far the options in this class of jump starters have all featured amperage below 2,000. If you own a small fleet or tend to several vehicles through the winter months, you might need something a bit more professional-grade. This Schumacher unit produces 4,400 peak amps, with 500 cranking/415 cold cranking amps. It doesn’t have any additional features outside of a 12-volt DC power outlet and a reverse polarity alarm, but in terms of raw power, this is the one to go with.
The copper jaws on the clamps are replaceable, which is key for a unit like this that should last you several years. It weighs a relatively massive 44 pounds, but if that’s an issue, check out the chargers in the next section.
Compact Car Jump Starters
While these tend to have less overall power, the compact jump starters are small enough to fit in a glove compartment. These are a better choice for the average driver, offering enough power for most cars, but not taking up a lot of extra space.
6. DBPOWER 400A Peak 12000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter
If the heavy units aren’t cutting it for you, go with one of compact design. This one offers 400 amps, which is enough to jump start up to 5 liter gas and 3 liter diesel engines. With a recharge time of 5 hours, this unit is small enough to fit into a glove box. It includes two USB outlets, a three-function LED light, and comes with a three-year warranty. Reviewers indicate that its effectiveness in a variety of uses, including SUVs and full-size pickups.
Price: $59.99 (40 percent off MSRP)
7. Weego JS18 18000mAh Jump Starter Professional Battery Pack for Mobile Devices and Car Batteries
This Weego unit is among the smallest available jump starters. The JS18 model offers 600 amps peak output and only loses 2 percent of its charge each month. That means you can charge it and leave it in your glove box for over a year between charges. On a full charge, the unit will give you five hours of power via two USB ports, one 12V and one 19V outlet, and a built-in LED flashlight. The peak power is enough to jump a 6.4 liter gasoline engine and diesels up to 4.8 liters. For a little less, it also comes in 12,000 and 6,000 mAh models.
Buy the Weego JS18 18000mAh Jump Starter Professional Battery Pack for Mobile Devices and Car Batteries here.
8. NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 4000 Amp 12V UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter
These ultraportable units tend to hover in the 600 amp range, which is definitely enough for most people. If you want to harness real power in this compact size, opt for this version. It offers 4,000 peak amps for 10+ liter vehicles and can perform 80 jumps on a single charge. There is, of course, a 12V DC outlet and a USB outlet, as well as a seven-function LED flashlight. Recharges take only three hours. They also have models for 400, 1,000, and 2,000 amps if you don’t quite need this much power and don’t want to spend the money.
9. Rugged Geek INTELLIBOOST 600A Portable Jump Starter
The LCD readout on this unit sets it apart from the others on this list. The screen will display both charge and output levels, giving you additional insight into your jumping process. There’s a three-function LED flashlight, laptop power port, and two USB ports. It’s roughly the size of an iPhone 6 Plus, which means it will probably fit in your pocket or purse.
In lieu of a reverse polarity alarm, this unit will not function until it’s hooked up correctly, which makes it safer for those who are uncomfortable with car maintenance in general. The 600 peak amps are enough for six liter gasoline engines and three liter diesel engines.
Price: $89.99 (55 percent off MSRP)
10. Suaoki U28 2000A Peak Jump Starter Pack
We like Suaoki’s novel lighting solutions, so it seemed natural to include one of their jump starters on this list. This unit offers 1000 amps of cold cranking power with a peak of 2000 amps, which should cover most passenger car applications. It of course doubles as a flashlight and as a power bank with two USB ports and a 12 volt DC out. A handy capacity gauge lets you know how much of a charge is left. If you don’t need all that power, they also offer an 800 peak amp model.