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What's behind our jump starter Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 10 models in jump starters to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    This is based mainly on the Jump Packs ability to start a vehicle with a weak or dead battery. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Jump Start (Warm)
    Ability of the Jump Pack to start a weak and dead battery at warmer temperatures of approximately 70 deg. F. A weak battery is when the headlights will come on and the engines starter motor will click but not start the car. A dead battery is when the lights would not come on and the starter would not make any noise.
  • Jump Start (Cold)
    Ability of the Jump Pack to start a weak battery at Zero degrees. A weak battery is when the headlights will come on and the engines starter motor will click but not start the car. Starting a car at sub freezing temperatures is most severe since the battery loses capacity. The test was done with both the cars battery and jump pack at zero degrees and with the battery at zero degrees and the jump pack at room temperature.
  • Reserve capacity
    Reserve capacity estimates how long the Jump Pack can be used to power other electrical equipment such as charging cellphones and laptops.

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Recommended jump starters

Recommended jump starters are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
A staple among roadside assistance crews, portable battery jump starters allow for convenient jump starts without having to connect two cars. A new wave of small, glovebox-scale battery jump starters make it easier than ever to include a jumper starter in a car emergency kit. Plus, these devices can be used to recharge phones and laptops, and they include a flashlight, making them handy to take camping or keep at home in case of a power outage. Our test results show which battery jumper starters are the best for your needs.

Jump starter buying guide

Jump starter buying guide

It used to be that a set of jumper cables (and an obliging fellow motorist) or a call for roadside assistance was needed to jump-start a car, but a convenient alternative has recently hit the market: The mini jump starter. These micro-sized battery packs are small enough to fit in your glovebox and powerful enough to jolt your car back to life.

Battery jump starters are nothing new, but until now, ones that worked well in our tests were sized like a hardcover dictionary powered by heavy lead-acid batteries. While great for car dealers and auto recovery services, these traditional booster packs are too bulky to carry as part of a car emergency kit. But the new generation of mini jump starters tested here use compact lithium-ion batteries. Most weigh around a pound and are roughly the size of a paperback novel. The 10 units we tested had an average price of about $90, making them only slightly more expensive than traditional car battery boosters--and a heck of a lot easier to carry.

In addition to jump-starting, these units can also be used to recharge portable devices, such as mobile phones and tablets--a function that makes them a useful part of a home emergency kit, as well. All of the units we tested had at least one built-in USB port, as well as a flashlight, and some had connectors to charge certain types of laptops.

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