Many people who purchase jumper cables will assume that any pair of black and red cables will work for your vehicle. The truth is that not all jumper cables are equal, and proper research is required in many cases before purchasing jumper cables so that you don’t end up with the wrong ones.
Since not every car is the same, not all jumper cables are built the same. Some have thicker wire gauges, some have higher maximum power outputs, different levels of insulation, and they can also come equipped with different lengths and material quality.
If you are looking for the best jump starter with an air compressor or the best jump starter for diesel, we have prepared separate resources to help you with your research. If you simply need help selecting the right normal pair of jump starter cables for your car, keep reading on.
Selecting the Right Wire Gauge
When you are looking for the correct wire gauge for your jumper cables, just remember that the higher the gauge of your wire, the thinner the wire. The thinner a wire is, the longer it will take to jump-start your car since it will be harder for enough power to travel through to your battery.
If you select a wire gauge that is 10 gauge, you should plan to only be able to use the jumper cables for compact or similar vehicles. For cars that are slightly bigger, you should select a cable that is at least 8 gauge to ensure that you can efficiently and successfully jump start your vehicle.
For the best results, be sure to check your car’s owner manual or call the vehicle’s manufacturer to be sure that you select the best wire gauge for your car. Purchasing a jumper cable with the wrong wire gauge can even mean that you won’t be able to jump start your car, depending on what kind of car you have.
Jump starter cables can range from a wide variety of amp settings. Most jumper cables range from 300 amps (or 300A) all the way to 3,000A. An average vehicle should be able to suffice with a jumper cable that provides anywhere between 300-600A, but if you have a bigger vehicle with a powerful engine, you may have issues with an average cable below 600A.
If your vehicle is diesel, you will likely need at least 600A of a maximum power. Be sure to check out our best jump starter for diesel article if you need some assistance selecting a jumper cable for a diesel vehicle.
Another thing to keep in mind is the difference between maximum power output and the output that can be accomplished with a cold-start. Since maximum power output can be a lot lower than the CCA (cold cranking amps), your car’s battery will usually tell you how much power you will need.
Insulation of Jumper Cables
To be sure that you select the best pair of jumper cables for your car, one thing to keep in mind is that you will need plenty of insulation on the wires so that the wires don’t become too hot to use, or unsafe to use in the first place.
To be sure that your jumper cables are safe to use, make sure that there is plenty of insulation on the wires. For your own safety, never use an old jumper cable that has bare wire showing, or you could have much more serious (and potentially life-threatening) problems than your car not starting.
Jumper Cable Length
More often than not, you will need to have another vehicle present to be able to jump your car. Some of the cheaper jumper cables will barely have enough length to connect from your car’s battery to a separate car’s battery. To ensure that you will be able to connect your battery to another car’s battery, make sure that your jumper cable is at least 10 feet long.
In some cases, it is wiser to get jumper cable that is even longer. The length that you need depends on where your battery is positioned, where the other car’s battery is positioned, how you position your cars next to each other, and other variables. It’s best to be safe and just purchase a jumper cable that has more than enough length so that you won’t have to worry about any of these factors.
Advanced Jumper Cables
Some people are not satisfied with just purchasing a set of normal jumper cables, and consider them an asset to your car’s safety. For this reason, many people decide to purchase jumper cables that come with advanced features, such as not needing another car to jump-start your vehicle, having the ability to inflate tires and jump your car in one system, or other advanced features such as attached S.O.S lighting.
If you do purchase a set of advanced jumper cables, you should expect to pay a little bit more. In most cases, these provide the easiest means of jump starting your car in an emergency. If you are sure that you will always have another car available for an emergency, you can simply just purchase a normal set of jumper cables.
Before you decide to purchase a set of jumper cables, there are many different variables that need to be accounted for. You need to make sure that the wire gauge matches your vehicle’s specifications, that it provides enough power both in cold-cranking (CCA) and maximum power, that it is long enough, and that the cables are properly insulated.
If you are still choosing a jump starter for your vehicle, you might also decide to invest in advanced jumper cables that come with fancy features like not needing a separate vehicle to jump start your engine, S.O.S lighting, or having the ability to inflate your tires. In any case, make sure that all of the variables described above are satisfied before you invest in any pair of jumper cables.