A Jump When You Need It: The Car Battery Jump Starter (and Why Every Driver Should Have One)

Car ownership isn’t as simple as signing on a dotted line and collecting the keys to your new ride. Ownership also means maintenance, repairs, and accessories. Like anything of value, your car requires diligence and care on an ongoing basis.

The right car tools can make your life much easier and extend the life and value of your car, but they are only useful if you know how and when to use them. With the market flooded with tools for making even the simplest tasks even simpler, it is hard not to become cynical about buying car tools and accessories that you won’t actually need.

Auto supply stores will push a tool kit, spare tire materials, jack, and other supplies on a new driver that will end up collecting dust in the garage.

That being said, when it comes to your car battery, the right tool is everything. Many people blow off the more expensive and advanced tools like car battery portable jump starters for the simple and effective jumper cables because they cannot see themselves in a situation in which jumper cables will not suit their needs. The fact of the matter is that every driver can benefit from a car jump starter.

Imagine a late evening. You walk through an abandoned parking lot to your car. Eager to get home, you unlock your door and settle in. Key in the ignition, you turn it once and get no response. Twice. A third turn. To your dismay you realize that your headlights were left on and your car battery is dead.

You have shiny new jumper cables in your trunk, but there isn’t another soul in the parking lot. You call a car service to help you and prepare for the long wait for someone to show up. Now, instead of heading to the comfort of your home you are waiting in a dead car in the middle of the night for an expensive and often extremely late AAA truck to come give you a jump.

All of this could have been avoided had you had a car battery jump starter. How to jumpstart a car? May people are familiar with the process of jump starting a car battery using battery booster packs

  • Step One: Attach jumper cables to a working battery in another vehicle.
  • Step Two: Attach the corresponding cables to your cars battery, ensuring that positive and negative are in the proper place.
  • Step Three: Turn the car on and let the cables transfer power to the dead battery.

After a few minutes, the energy from the running vehicle will revive the dead battery enough that the engine can start. While this is an effective method to fix a dead battery, the problem is that it is dependent on there being another driver being present and generous enough to help you.

Your car also has to be in an ideal spot for charging; for example a car parked in a tight spot with cars blocking either side cannot effectively be jumped with average length battery booster cables. You would need to manually roll the car out of the spot so that your dead car can face the vehicle doing the boost.

Luckily there is a much better way. Portable Car Battery Jump Starters are self-contained and can revive a dead battery without any other equipment needed. The problem is that many people don’t know about this useful and simple tool.

Some common questions about jump starters are:

What is a car battery jump starter?

A car battery jump starter is essentially an auxiliary battery; much like an external power bank used the charge cell phones when they run low on battery life. The kind of battery may vary, but they are designed to transfer energy from their reserve into a dead car battery so that it can start a car engine. It is not an instant process; rather it takes more than five minutes to provide the dead battery with enough juice to jump start.

Aside from the battery component there will be an apparatus to connect the jump starter to the power outlets on your car battery. This may be directly attached to the battery itself or other ports in the vehicle. A majority of jump starters also have screens or indication lights to help you see how much battery life is left in the jump starter. If it has rechargeable capabilities, there will be a power adapter so that it can be plugged into a household outlet to recharge itself. 

What are the different kinds of jump starter?

The portable car jump starter can come in many shapes and sizes depending on the vehicle it is designed to jump start. Some units are non-rechargeable and are designed for a single jump. Rechargeable units are more common, and are largely more available.

Despite the varying shapes and commercial uses, the jump starters can be sorted into two categories:

Clamp Jump Starters

These portable car jump starters follow the traditional jumper cable method of contact and have two alligator clamp cables that connect directly to the positive and negative ports on your car battery. This is the most popular form of charger because it has been around the longest. Clamp jump starters like the Jump-N-Carry JNC660 by Clore Automotive are also more efficient and so charge a battery much faster than other types of jump starters. The only problem is that this may be a daunting piece of equipment for a first time user. If you are confused and frightened by the chrome under the hood of your car, you may have trouble with this model of portable car battery jump starter. Luckily there are other options for charging a dead battery. 

Power Outlet Chargers

This is a relatively new kind of car battery jump starter but it has gained popularity quickly because of how simple they are to use. This jump starter plugs into your car’s power outlet, the same outlet you would use to plug a phone charger or a car lighter. These units are much smaller than their clamp jump counterparts and can take longer to revive the car battery but you eliminate any margin of error.

This is good because if you improperly connect a positive clamp to a negative post while trying to charge a battery with a clamp jump starter you may experience some substantial damage to your car battery. A Power outlet car battery jump starter tends to be more pocket portable and therefore has a smaller power reservoir, so make sure that it can provide enough power for the size car battery in your car.

How does one car battery jump starter differ from the others?

Essentially each jump starter is identical. The differences will lie not in the model type but in the quality of its materials. Not every lead ion jump starter battery is made equal; batteries of lesser quality will hold charge for less time and require replacement more often.

Make sure that the clamp car battery jump starter you buy has proper insulation on the cables and clamps for your safety. Are the clamps made of flimsy metal that will bend with multiple uses? This can affect the transfer of electricity over time. Getting a battery jump starter with meters can also help you give your battery a boost effectively and safely.

Now that you have the inside info on car battery jump starters and how they work, it is time to decide which battery starter is right for you. When purchasing a car battery jump starter you should consider these factors:

Battery Size

While the standard car battery is 12 volts no matter how large the car is, a person who drives a four door pickup truck should not be buying the same car battery jump starter as a person driving a two door coupe. The actual size of your car’s battery determines the size car battery jump starter you should purchase. The power reservoirs on jump starters vary in peak amp size. Larger peak amps are better for larger cars because their engines require more battery power to turn over. 

Alternately, if your vehicle is small, you don’t want to over-juice your battery for risk of damage. For more information on this topic, Jump-N-Carry has created a useful guide on which size car battery jumper you need based on your vehicle’s size. You can view it HERE 

Battery Storage

Once again, the storage of your battery will largely depend on your intended use. If you have a commercial jump starter, keeping it in a garage for use on multiple vehicles will require access to a power outlet. On the other hand, if you move from vehicle to vehicle through your day, a portable light weight jump starter is great for carrying around in a tool kit. The average user may use a portable car charger for other uses, but the majority of users buy a car battery jump starter for use with their personal car.

Keeping your car battery jump starter in your car is the best course of action. After all, what good is having a jump starter if it isn’t there when you need it? In light of this, it is important to take into account the size and weight of the jump starter you choose. If you drive a coupe with little to no trunk space, an extra large car battery jump starter isn’t going to suit your needs. There is a large selection of car battery jump starters that vary in size and shape on the market today. Some are small and pocket sized, but the majority of the space saver jump starters can fit in a glove box. As with any space saving jump starter, make sure that is has the right amps to properly revive your battery before you purchase it. 

Price

The price for a jump starter can range from a couple of bucks to a few hundred. Once again, this is based on size and power. If you intend to use your car battery jump starter on large commercial vehicles and boats, it will require heavy duty materials and a high amp capability.

This will require a large battery and a bigger price tag. At the same time a pocket charger requires very little materials and can be made very cheaply. The difficulty lies in the middle of the market: does ten dollars make a big difference in quality? Consider the fact that you are paying for the quality of the materials and the added features of the tool. If you don’t think that you need an LCD meter and extra-long cables on your car battery jump starter, then opt for the cheaper version with the same specs but less added features. The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 can serve as a good baseline because is a top rated jump starter both in quality and price. For more info on this models and others like it, CLICK HERE

Lifespan

How long do you need this car battery jump starter to last? There are options for rechargeable jump starters on the market, but there are also single use jump starters as well. You may be wondering when a single use jump starter would be preferable as it seems like rechargeable models are a better value. Single use units are perfect for road trips or car rentals. It is always nice to have a car battery jump starter, but when you don’t own a car it makes no practical sense to spend around a hundred dollars for a rechargeable one. Temporary car drivers can buy the single use for the duration of their trip and not worry about what to do with it when they return the car. 

Auto Club Vs. A Personal Car Battery Jump Starter

There is a large segment of the population that will forgo any kind of tools in their car for a monthly auto club. These companies charge a monthly fee for a service that will drive to you and fix whatever ails your vehicle.

While this is a handy and practical service to retain, there are several disadvantages to using your auto club service for a dead battery. 

Claim Limits

Auto Clubs like AAA and Insurance company based clubs often charge a flat rate per year, but only allow you so many calls before they charge an additional premium for their services. If you only get three or five phone calls a year, it makes less monetary sense to waste a call on something as simple as a car battery jump. Even if you are diligent about never leaving your lights on or letting your car battery go dead, you will eventually have a situation in which you need to jump start your car. Like any other battery, the battery in your car will eventually lose its ability to charge and need replacing. This is another reason having a battery booster comes in handy. 

With the availability of easy car battery boosters, you can do it yourself and save your limited auto club claims for times when you really cannot fix the problem yourself. It’s no wonder that broken windshields, shredded tires, towing, and other emergencies are better left to the professionals with your auto club, but a battery jumper can easily save you a phone call.

Time

Depending on your location and your auto club, it may be a terribly long wait for anyone to arrive to help you. Auto Clubs send their calls out based on location, nature of car emergency, and the safety of the driver. So if you are in no immediate danger and have a dead battery, you may be at the bottom of the priority list when you call your auto club. 

And if you cannot wait and leave your vehicle for any reason and the maintenance truck arrives while you have stepped away they will not wait. This will end up forcing you to call and request yet another maintenance truck, starting the waiting process all over again! Consumer reports published that the average wait for auto club service in the New England area for minor emergencies is often well over ninety minutes. With a portable car battery jump starter you can revive your battery and be long gone before an auto club technician can arrive to help you. 

Every Driver Should Have One

In the long run owning a portable car battery jump starter is a sound investment that will pay for itself during the lifetime of your car, but it can also help keep you safer. Remember that abandoned road from the beginning of the article? This is a potentially dangerous position to be in.

Even if someone makes an appearance, you run the risk of putting yourself in danger by reaching out to a stranger for help. Avoid the perils of being taken advantage of or hurt by being one hundred percent self-sufficient. There is truly no disadvantage to owning your own car battery jump starter. 

Now that you know the value of owning one you might be wondering where you can buy a car battery jump starter of your very own. There are several places you can find them for sale:

Auto Shops

Your local auto shop may have accessories for sale that you can take advantage of. It is important that if you decide to purchase a booster from an auto shop that you ask how long the unit sat on the shelf. If it has been sitting there for too long the battery inside may have lost some of its potency. With this options, you don’t get the chance to review the feedback received by the item. 

Chain Stores

Chain stores often offer a small selection of car battery jump starters, but there won’t be many to choose from. Don’t select the wrong battery booster just for the sake of acquiring one. Make sure that you get the right model and max amp capability to save yourself the trouble later.

Online

Online stores such as Amazon.com can be a great resource for finding a battery jump starter to suit your needs. There are literally thousands of units on the market to choose from. This is great because you can compare models by price and specifications and then have it shipped to you from the comfort of your home. 

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