Best Jumper Cables Hunting
What are the best jumper cables? Perhaps you are looking for a set of good jumper cables for your car. Or, your old jumper cables quit working, and you are wondering who makes the best jumper cables these days?
A few month ago, the battery on my dad’s old truck started having problems. Unfortunately his old booster cables retired earlier then he did. After paying AAA $100 bucks for a car towing fee, he sent me to research all the best jumper cables reviews, and my mission has been to find him the best jumper cables for the money.
Finally, I got 4 gauge jumper cables for dad, and he is happy with them. Since the job is done, I decided to also share it with others, and I hope it can help others as well.
What's in this article...
- Best Jumper Cables Hunting
- How to determine the best kind of jumper cables for you car:
- Coleman 4 Gauge Jumper Cables – 20 feet
- Coleman Parrot Clamp Jumper Cables
- A Jumper Cables Alternative: A Battery Jump Starter
- Quality Jumper Cables: Don’t buy inferior quality!
How to determine the best kind of jumper cables for you car:
While I was searching online, I have seen many people were having questions on what gauge jumper cables are best? 10 gauge perhaps? Or 4 gauge? What about 2 gauge jumper cables? The correct answer really depends on your car.
In general, cable gauge runs between 1 to 10. The smaller the gauge number, the stronger the cables.
If you own a small car with a small engine, 8 or 6 gauge battery jumper cables are good enough. But the best jumper cables for trucks or SUV’s should be at least 4 gauge. And if your budget is available, I would get a 2 gauge set.
2. How often do you need to use them?
Like my dad, he had not been using his cables for a long time. He used to keep a set of 8 gauge cables in his truck. Since the gauge of his cables wasn’t that low, he complained about the cables getting to hot. But since we did not need them all the time, the jumper cables lasted for awhile.
But ever since the battery problems began and he started needing a jump start more often, the poor 8 gauge booster cables were getting burned out. My friend was also talking about how sometimes the high gauge jumper cables take too much time to charge the battery from one car to another car. Or they just do not perform, when you need them the most.
(Remember that with the lower cable gauge, they will allow more juice to low through the cable faster!) We eventually decided to get four gauge heavy duty jumper cables, and the heat problem was solved. But again, not everyone needs to get heavy duty booster cables. Choose the one that best suits you.
Based on your vehicle engine size, and the usage of the cables, decide what are the best jumper cables to buy by looking at the cost of the jumper cables.
The price of booster cables really depends on where you shop, and the quality of the jumper cable wire.
If you’re looking for the best deal, then the best place to buy jumper cables is online. It helps me to make an informed decision, and I can always find a better price than at a local store.
For a good set jumper cables, They’ll cost you somewhere between $50 to $100. With a discount, you may find them around $40 to $50.
For the higher gauge cables, you get them for around $10-30. But remember, the higher gauge cables will allow less juice to flow between batteries. And it will take longer to charge your car, and they might get hot.
Also consider the weather for where you live. Usually the lower quality cables’ flexibility is limited. During the winter, these cables become fragile, and in the summer they become sticky, at least that’s what happened to my dad.
Basically, lower gauge booster cables have better wire and better insulative coating. Then, since they are more flexible, they are much easier to work with. Not to mention when they get all mixed up or tangled together.
You can spend 100 bucks to get a two gauge cable, or around $10 to get a ten gauge one. But if I were you, I would choose the middle price range. So usually if the booster cable quality is good, then around 50 bucks is reasonable for me.
My only advice as far as what you should be paying for a set is not to go with the so called “best cheap jumper cables” and by that I mean the cheapest ones. Because in order to give a lower the price, a lot of the time the manufacturer will cut corners on the materials of the cables to meet the price cut.Meaning low quality metals and insulation.
After I received my 4 gauge jumper cables, I can really tell the difference between dad’s old booster cables from sears and the new ones from amazon. And for that difference, I am glad that I made that choice.
4. How to choose the best quality jumper cables:
Keep three things in mind as you decide: the length, gauge, and also the clamps of the cables. These are the most central measurement for your jumper cables. Earlier I mentioned about the jumper cable gauge.
Now let’s talk about the jumper cable length. Usually the kind of booster cables you can find are between 10 and 25 feet. A short 10 ft cable can be folded compactly, and pushed into a corner of your car. 25 ft cables are going to take some storage space in your vehicle, so you might need a jumper cable bag to help you organize them.
If you have a larger vehicle, then you should get longer cables. Just imagine you are trying to jump start you car in the parking lot, and you car is big, it will be not so easy for anyone helping you to get near your engine. Or, if your friend’s car is dead on the highway, and he is asking for your help, after you get there, you figure out that the car is too long and the cables are too short, you just won’t be able to help.
In my opinion, around 20 feet is good enough for the length of your cables. Even you have wide vehicles, they will give you plenty of room to work with. Sacrificing some storage space is not a bad idea in this case. For motorcycle drivers, a set of short cables may be doable.
What about the metal on your jumper cables?
I also see a lot of people talking about this online. From my experience, the copper clamp is alway the best! Why? Because copper is one of the best electrical conducting metals. It makes the electricity flow through easily, and as a result, it can greatly increase the speed of the jumping process.
How easy it is for you to attach the clamps?
Still, there are two clamps styles you can see on the market. One is crocodile style and another one is parrot style. Personally I prefer the crocodile style. But again, you could take a look at the nodes of your car battery and see which style is easier to attach to your battery and go with that. depending on the nodes of your battery, you may find that the traditional crocodile-style clamps work best for you. If you’ve never had the chance to test out either style on your vehicle, I’d recommend the parrot style.
Our Best Jumper Cables Picks Reviewed
Coleman 4 Gauge Jumper Cables – 20 feet
- These don’t get dirty easily because they are coated so that oil and chemicals can’t stain them. Plus they are water resistant, perfect for rainy days.
- Clamps have triple-polarity identification: color-coded, indent stamping, & glow-in-the-dark label.
- Even in extremely cold temperatures, their T-Prene jacket remains flexible.
This is a 20′ 4 gauge booster cable with polar-glo clamps. Since it is a no-tangle booster cable, the t-Prene jacket remains flexible even in extreme cold temperatures while the wire jacket material is oil, chemical, and water resistant.
Thankfully, the polar-glo clamp is ergonomically designed so that it can be easily handled by everyone. And, clamps have triple-polarity identification that includes color coding, indent stamping, and glow-in-the-dark labels.
All energized clamp surfaces are shielded to avoid short circuits and all conductive clamp surfaces are recessed to prevent accidental contact. You can use these jumper cables to transfer power for 6 Volt or 12 Volt batteries (since they have a 300 Amp current rating), making this set extremely practical.
And since it fits top post and side terminal batteries so well, you’ll find the clamps easy to use. These jumper cables have industry approvals from UL and are ROHS compliant.
Coleman Parrot Clamp Jumper Cables
- They were designed and created for the occasional user and professional mechanic, so they’re manufactured to last a long time.
- The parrot jaws grip onto the terminals and do not slip off.
- The clamps on these are strong and will last a long time. The 4-guage wire is heavy enough for cars and trucks.
- They are plenty long so you don’t need to worry about getting to close in order to use them.
The Road Power commercial grade booster cables were engineered specifically for the needs of the professional mechanic and feature 500-Amp rated parrot-jaw clamps. These super heavy-duty 4 gauge booster cables are suitable for starting all types of passenger vehicles, SUVs and light trucks.
Parrot-jaw clamps are manufactured from rugged zinc-plated steel with serrated copper-clad jaws and non-slip vinyl-coated grips. And, the cables feature heavy duty “No Shock” jaw clamps with a 20 foot length on the cables that allow vehicles to be parked front to back.
These booster cables are constructed with dual-extruded wire to provide the user with tangle-free operation. And since the cables are polar/solar chords with T-Prene insulation, they stay flexible even to -67 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Use Jumper Cables:
My simple 4-step jumper cable instructions:
Before we talk about how to connect jumper cables, make sure the cars are both turned off, and the jumper cables clamps are not connected to each other.
1. Attach the red positive clamps to the positive terminal on your car, and the other car’s battery.
2. Attach the black negative clamps to both vehicle’s metal frame.
3. Double check all connections, and make sure the booster cables are not in the way of your operation. Then start the car that has the live battery.
4. Depending on the battery’s condition, give five to ten minutes to let the dead battery charge, while one car is running.
5. Now you can try to start you car. If it works, then unhook the negative jumper cable clamps from both cars. After that, detach the positive clamps for both vehicles. But just make sure during this process that the booster cable’s clamps are not touching each other.
A few more tips to mention are that once your battery has charged and you have just have enough juice to start, if you can, do not stop there, but let your car keep running ’til the battery is fully recharged before moving . During the whole process, I would say that properly connecting you booster cables is the key! By the way, the best place to ground jumper cables is on the non-moving metal part of your car.
It is rare to be injured by jumper cables, but if you are really worried about it, then get some gloves and wear a pair of goggles. Finally, believe in yourself that you can do it! (At least, that has been my experience). Jumper cables are nothing but two long insulated electric wires with spring loaded clamps on both sides.
For the best way to hook up jumper cables, many of the cables are made joined together and marked positive and negative on the clips to help you identify which side is which. Typically, the color of jumper cables are red and black, or sometimes blue and yellow. When you hook the cables to the positive side of the battery, as long as you connect it with the other battery’s positive side, you’ll be okay.
Also do the same with the negative cables and the negative side on that battery. Then you’ll be good to go! By the way, usually the car battery is also clearly marked for each ‘+’ or ‘-‘ terminal.
A Jumper Cables Alternative: A Battery Jump Starter
Just imagine the car is dead, and you quickly take out your cables, but you can not find anyone to jumper start you car.
That’s when having a Jump Starter really comes in handy! I’ve written quite a bit on choosing the best jump starter here, so take a look if this option looks like something you need.
Quality Jumper Cables: Don’t buy inferior quality!
Your car owner’s manual tells you how to connect jumper cables safely to prevent sparks and a possible explosion. In addition, it warns you about the dangers of using substandard quality booster cables. A poor quality product can put you in a situation similar to connecting a thin, poorly insulated extension cord to an electric heater.
There are risks of wire overheating, insulation melt-down and eventually short circuit. In your household you are protected by a fuse or circuit breaker, preventing any risk of fire. However, when using jumper cables you do not enjoy similar protection as there is inadequate strands of wiring and no circuit breaker protection and this could be a real safety concern.
Low quality jumper cables can cause the following problems:
- High resistance in inferior jumper cables can cause damage to the starter motor when subjected to extended periods of cranking.
- Low quality cable insulation become excessively stiff when exposed to cold temperatures.
- Poorly insulated clamps and weak springs will result in poor electrical connections.
Here are important advice and tips on features to look for in quality jumper cables:
- Clamps that fit both side or top terminal batteries are recommended. Ideally, you need built in warning lights to signal incorrect connection.
- The clamps should be covered with bonded vinyl insulation.
- The insulated clamp jaws should not have exposed metal parts which could arc when in contact with other electricity conductor parts.
- Clamp handles should be equipped with flexible cable guards to prevent wear and tear at stress points.
- Cables should be made with pure copper wires for higher quality conductivity.
- The cables should have a minimum lenght of 12 to 16 feet and a do not settle for less than 4 gauge.
- The jumper cables should designed with a heavy duty insulated jacket.
Got quality jumper cables ? Good! Now, let’s look at the way to use them. First, review the jump starting procedures in your owner’s manual. If you have no manual or no procedure is specified, follow the following instructions. Bear in mind that these step-by-step instructions relate to a negative grounded system.
- Check the batteries and systems in both vehicles. They must be the same voltage i.e. 6 volt or 12 volt. Otherwise, do not attempt to jump start.
- Do not use cables on a damaged battery. Ensure vent caps are tight and level. Place damp cloth over vent caps on both batteries. Be sure vehicles are in contact and ignitions are off.
- Connect the positive cable to the positive post of the discharged battery.
- Connect the other end of the same cable to the positive post of the starting vehicle’s battery.
- Connect the negative cable to the other post of the booster battery.
- Make the final connection on the engine block of the stalled vehicle. When doing so, stand away from the battery.
- Stand back. Start the vehicle. If it does not start after cranking for 30 seconds, stop the process. Unless some mechanical adjustments are made an engine will rarely start after cranking for half a minute.
Jumper cables have a limit. If you have to use them a few times a week, even if you have the best jumper cables on the market, then they are not going to be that helpful after a while.
First check the alternator of your vehicle so that it charges your car battery.
Also, the culprit might be corrosion because it can happen pretty easily over time. If that is the case, get a wire brush to scrape off the terminals. During the process, make sure you protect yourself! I mean if you need gloves, or a face mask, etc., then use it!
If everything else is okay, then maybe it is time to check out a new battery. Before you make a decision, go back to check your car manual to see what is the right battery for your car, or go to Amazon and input your car info, or go to batteries plus to do the same thing. Once you know which car battery you need, the rest is easy.
Ultimately, keep the car in good shape, so you will prevent a lot of problems down the road. And that is the most cost effective car maintenance. I hope my best jumper cables review is helpful.