What Size Jump Starter Do I Need?
Most of us realize how important it is to have a pair of jumper cables in our vehicles at all times. But if you’re like me, you may never have asked yourself the question, “What size jump starter do I need?” After having my battery go dead and discovering I had the wrong size, I took the time to learn the answer to that question.
Our Favorite Jump Starters
To decide how many amps you need, you can check your car’s owner manual. But you also need to factor in climate, age and condition of the battery, size, age of the engine, and other issues. Thus, asking a mechanic for some advice is a good idea to play it safe.
But once you determine your desired amperage, which jump starter should you buy? You still have to choose among many brands and weigh various features. Here are some of our favorite jump starters to consider investing in:
How Many Amps Does It Take To Start A Car?
The first factor you have to address in answering the query, “How many amps do I need to jump start my car?” is amp power. A typical battery will produce four or five hundred cold crank amps to get a car up and running.
But understand that a cold crank amp only applies in above-zero temperatures. It can take considerably more power to start a car in sub-zero weather, though in either case, a minimum of 12.4 volts must be produced.
Why Does Cold Weather Adversely Affect Your Battery Power?
Extreme cold hurts your battery function in two ways simultaneously. First, it slows down the chemical reactions inside the battery that give it its life. This makes it take more power to create and hold the same charge.
Second, cold weather thickens the oil and other fluids in your engine, transmission, and other parts of your vehicle. Thicker fluids mean more friction, which in turn, means more power is needed to move the starter and kick the engine into gear.
Is 300 Amps Enough To Start A Car?
You can buy a portable jump starter with jumper cables attached to jump-start your car without calling someone else in to help. Many of these packs give you 300 amps of power. Is that enough?
The answer is, “That depends.” For a weak battery, 300 amps is likely enough to start up the average car. For a completely dead battery, it usually will not suffice. If the air outside is too cold, that can also hamper your efforts.
The size and age of the engine is also a key factor. Bigger engines’ large, heavy parts are more demanding of amperage. And older engines will require more amps than newer models, which use lightweight, low-friction materials.
A Real-Life Example: Jump-Starting My V8 One Snowy Day In Northern Illinois.
I was proud of my BMW and its 4.8L V8 engine. The fact it was nearing the end of its battery’s life cycle and that sub-zero temperatures were forecast, however, led me to equip it with a jump starter before I regretted “trusting it too much.”
I opted for the Wagan 7503 Black iOnBoost 600-amp Lithium Jump Starter
Its small size, LED lights, and safety features also recommend it. And while there are other great jump starters, I am satisfied I won’t again find my jump starter amperage insufficient like I did years back with a 300 amp unit on a dead SUV battery.
Related: What’s The Best Car Battery Brand
Summing It Up
There are too many variables to give a single answer to the question, “What size jump starter do I need?” Every car’s answer will differ, but it is critical you take the time to find one that covers you in all situations you are likely to find yourself in.
I can’t say there is one particular jump starter I recommend above all others, but I do stress you should do all of the following in making your own choice:
- Check your car’s owner manual and also talk to a mechanic or other expert so you can factor in all variables.
- Don’t buy the jump starter that just barely squeaks you by. You don’t have to buy the 1,700-amp model, but always be safe instead of sorry.
- Learn ahead of time how to use a jump starter unit. Listen to this Youtube video where Joe Thomas, expert in all things car-related, shows you how to do it.
And, finally, if you have any further questions or comments on how to find the right-sized jump starter, feel free to leave your input just below.