Jun 13, 2023

Best Jumper Cables for 2023, Tested

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A set of jumper cables is a nice addition to any roadside emergency kit. Here are the best ones to buy.

As lithium-ion battery technology gets better and better, you might think jumper cables are becoming obsolete. Not necessarily. Jumper cables can come in handy where a dead jump starter would not, so it's not a bad idea to keep a set in your roadside emergency kit.

If you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, you might want to lean toward a portable jump starter. But if you're going to be tooling around town, a set of inexpensive, reliable cables just might save you a tow bill. As a bonus, you may even garner hero status by saving someone else's day.

We tested six options from top choices online and put them through our Gear Team testing. Here are our picks for the best jumper cables.

Cable gauge: Jumper cables come in different gauges. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire and the more amperage the jumper cables can handle. In general, you'll want either 4- or 6-gauge jumper cables for a standard vehicle.

You can get away with higher-gauge jumper cables if you drive a small car, but for full-size trucks, vans, and other large vehicles, you'll want a set of 1- or 2-gauge jumper cables. Thicker jumper cables take up more space in the trunk, though, so it's important to find the right balance between your needs and practicality.

Length: Longer cables allow you to reach between batteries much easier. Since vehicles commonly locate their batteries in trunks these days, it's smart to be ready for a lengthy distance between vehicles. On the flip side, longer cables are more difficult to store if you're short on space.

Clamp quality: You'll want to choose a set of jumper cables with clamp quality in mind because that's where the main connection begins. This is your vehicle's direct lifeline, so you want it to be secure. Good cables are also ergonomically simple to squeeze—which can be super handy in the bitter cold.

Storage: Storing your jumper cables properly can save you space in your trunk, glovebox, or under your seat. Check to see which jumper cables come with handy storage containers—who doesn't like more space in their ride?

For our jumper-cable test, we wanted to look at all aspects, not just if they work. We tested the following parameters:

Comparing notes on each of these parameters, we decided which jumper cables worked best for different situations and which ones fell short. Here are our picks for the best jumper cables.

Cartman jumper cables are our pick as the Best for Most Vehicles thanks to the excellent warranty, clamp quality, and included accessories. You'll get a battery terminal cleaning brush along with a nice carrier bag to help you store these cables in your trunk or under your seat.

At 20.0-feet in length, they boast enough reach for just about any jumping situation. We judged the quality of the clamps and cables to be quite good, and that three-year warranty is a home run. For most vehicles, these are our pick for the best jumper cables.

Coming in at a close second, the EverStart jumper cables are an excellent choice in their own right. They feature a nifty Smart Protector readout device that displays voltage and alerts if it detects reverse polarity. It's a nice backup to have, just in case.

The EverStart cables are rated 6-gauge and extend 15.9-feet. The two-year warranty is nice, and they come with a dedicated carrier bag. If they were a bit longer, they'd contend for our pick for the best—but we'll give them a close second.

Coming in at 25.2 feet in length, TopDC jumper cables are quite a beast. They're a bit heavy, too, weighing in at six pounds—the heaviest cables we tested.

The 4-gauge cables boast a whopping five-year warranty, which is impressive. The circular carrier case is nice for storage, but the length of these cables makes it a challenge to tuck them away. If you need long cables, get these—but make sure you have room to stow them in your ride.

Energizer jumper cables are a nice middle ground—not excelling in any of our testing parameters but not producing any true negative feedback, either.

The zip-up carrier bag is a nice touch, but we felt the clamps were a bit difficult to handle. But with a solid warranty, these aren't a bad buy if the need arises.

Right out of the box, the DieHard jumper cables lacked a carrier case—which puts it at a disadvantage. We also couldn't get a definitive warranty length with these, so keep that in mind.

Aside from the helpful 20.0-foot length, we felt the clamps were difficult to squeeze, and the contacts in the jaws lacked a lot of surface area compared to others.

These 10-gauge jumper cables from Amazon Basics are a bit on the thin side for most vehicles, but if you have a small car with a low-power battery, you might be able to make these work. But why risk it when you can just get a larger-gauge set of cables for a similar price?

Additionally, the contacts on the clamps are small, and gripping the terminals could prove to be a challenge in a cramped engine bay. Along with a short length, we felt like these just missed the mark.

We tested a wide range of jumper cables varying in both gauge and length. We wanted to analyze all aspects of the cables, not just if they work. Length is an important parameter, so we verified that by measuring from clamp end to clamp end. Our measurements were overall quite close to the lengths stated by the manufacturers, only varying by an inch or two.

We measured the weight of each set of cables and took note of any included accessories. Because storing these cables is worth consideration, we kept track of any bags or cases that offered handy storage options.

We subjectively tested the clamp quality of each set of cables, judging how they felt to use, if they were easy to squeeze, and grabbed onto battery terminals adequately. And finally, we verified the warranty offerings for each set of jumper cables.

Once we accumulated all this data, we gathered our findings for the best jumper cables.

Jumper cable gauges range from one to 12, and the lower the number, the more power the cable can handle. For a standard vehicle, 4- to 6-gauge cables are fine, while larger vehicles like diesel trucks might want something closer to 2-gauge cables. Eight- to 10-gauge cables should work for smaller vehicles.

The short answer? Jumper cables are cheaper, and you don't need to worry about keeping them charged up. Portable jump-starter technology keeps improving, and having one is a solid alternative. But if you want to stick with ol' reliable, a set of good jumper cables won't let you down.

Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. The Gear Team has tested a wide variety of automotive products, parts, accessories, and gear, such as GPS trackers for cars, OBD2 scanners, and electric car chargers. We get our hands on each and every product we test. Most are purchased; some are supplied by manufacturers.

Hearst Autos doesn't need to game algorithms for traffic or promote lousy products to earn a buck. Instead, we're far more concerned with our legacy, our reputation, and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest opinions and expert evaluations.

Visit our Tested & Trusted page to see the very best in automotive gear. Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.

Collin Morgan is an Associate Commerce Editor at Hearst Autos, where the former Rust Belt mechanic and gadget enthusiast presents the best gear for your automotive endeavors.

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