There’s nothing like a car with a flat battery to leave you feeling, well, flat. Open the door, fasten your seatbelt, turn the key – nothing. The car’s as dead as a dodo. Unless your other half is willing to give you a jump-start, you’re faced with the prospect of catching the bus to work or calling a breakdown service. Either way, you’ll wish you had invested in a car jump starter power pack.
But which jump start power pack should I buy?
There was a time when car jump starter power packs required the arms of Popeye just to lift them into position. The good news is that you can put away the spinach – some of today’s compact power packs are small enough to fit inside your glove box.
There are hundreds of booster packs available, many of which are unproven and from unknown brands. But we’ve narrowed the search to some of the best units you can buy. Jump to it.
So why do you need a car jump starter power pack?
A flat battery is always something that happens to somebody else – until it happens to you. There are many reasons why a battery might decide to dial it in: it’s passed its prime, you left an interior light on, the weather has turned cold, it had a heavy night last night and fancied a lie-in. OK, so we made the last one up, but a car battery will, at some point, let you down, unless you replace it first.
To be honest, we feel that prevention is better than cure, so we’ll refer to you our list of car battery chargers. But if the worst does happen, these car jump start power packs will give you the boost you need.
The best jump starter power packs
NOCO Boost X GBX45
NOCO is the name when it comes to this sort of kit. The American company is one of the world's pre-eminent suppliers of booster packs, so you can rely on the GBX45 to get you moving. This one is not cheap, but it's a beast: small and light, yet is rated for petrol engines up to 6.5-litres and diesel engines up to 4.0-litres.
The 100-lumen LED torch should shine a light on any problems you encounter with your car. Plus, it's a regular power bank. IP65 water resistant.
|Dimensions||17.3cm (L) x 8.3cm (W) x 5.3cm (H)|
|Max engine capacity||6.5-litre petrol/4.0-litre diesel|
|• Very robust||• Overkill if you only own a supermini|
|• Flawless performance|
CTEK Portable Battery Charger Maintainer
The perfect portable battery starter
An excellent all-in-one battery charger and booster from CTEK, this is an ideal portable battery starter. The internal battery will stay charged for a full year meaning you won't need to worry if you forget about it and it can even be optioned with a solar panel to ensure it stays topped up. The best part however is the Adaptive Boost technology that will not only restart a dead battery, it'll also work out the safest and most efficient way to restart a dead battery.
|Dimensions||24.8cm (L) x 9.8cm (W) x 7.8cm (H)|
|Max engine capacity||N/A|
|• Clever dual-purpose||• Bigger and heavier than the NOCO and Ring units|
|• Adaptive Boost great for long-term battery health|
|• Tremendous build quality|
NOCO Boost Plus GB40
Best budget NOCO option
While being less powerful than the NOCO Boost X GBX45, the Boost Plus will still get most flat batteries going with ease. It works on diesel engines up to 3.0-litres in size and petrol ones up to 6.0-litres. It also features a 100-lumen LED flashlight, can be used as a normal power bank and it's even water resistant with a IP65 rating.
|Dimensions||19.6cm (L) x 8cm (W) x 4.3cm (H)|
|Max engine capacity||6.0-litre petrol/3.0-litre diesel|
|• Robust||• GBX45 smaller and more powerful|
|• IP65 rated|
|• USB recharging|
Draper BCS560T 12V/24V 500A Battery Starter/Charger
Best garage-based battery starter
Designed for use in proper garages, this wheeled option from Draper is suitable for both 12 and 24V battery jump starts. It may only be suitable for petrol engines up to 3.0-litres and diesel units up to 2.2-litres. It is suitable for most battery types and powered using a conventional three-pin plug. Draper also has a reputation for excellent build quality so this product should provide excellent peace of mind.
|Dimensions||36cm (L) x 34.7cm (W) x 64.5cm (H)|
|Max engine capacity||3.0-litre petrol/2.2-litre diesel|
|• Reliable||• Bulky|
|• Mains powered - good for the workshop|
|• Easy to move|
CTEK MXS 3.8 Automatic Battery Charger
Best for preventing a flat battery
We're going out on a limb with this one, but the CTEK MXS 3.8 will ensure that you never face a flat battery again. Unlike the power packs featured above, the CTEK unit is unable to provide a boost, but stick this on the car between uses and you can be sure the battery won't leave you high and dry. Prevention is definitely better than cure.
|Dimensions||16.8cm (L) x 6.5cm (W) x 3.8cm (H)|
|Max engine capacity||N/A (1.2–130Ah batteries)|
|• Smart battery charging||• Trickle charging only|
|• Maintains battery health|
Ring RPPL300 Jump Starter
Best compact battery starter
A compact option from Ring, this jump starter can be used with engines up to 3-litres in size but can easily fit in a car's glovebox. It has an in-built LED torch in case of night time break downs and it even doubles up as a power bank. We like the look too. It's discreet and not super macho like the NOCO units - it's hard to believe it's a jump starter because it looks like a regular power bank.
|Dimensions||16.4cm (L) x 8.6cm (W) x 3cm (H)|
|Max engine capacity||3.0-litres|
|• Sleek design||• NOCO GBX45 much more powerful|
|• Ideal for small cars|
|• Very compact|
Combine a jump starter and air compressor
Perfect for maximising available space, this jump starter from the AA also includes an air compressor that's perfect for filling a flat tyre. It can jump-start a petrol engine up to 2.5 litres, a diesel unit up to 1.6 litres and it can also inflate a tyre to 150 PSI. It even comes with an LED work light that has a flash function too, perfect for nighttime emergencies.
|Dimensions||20cm (L) x 20cm (W) x 30cm (H)|
|Max engine capacity||2.5-litre petrol/2.0-litre diesel|
|• True all-in-one||• Relatively bulky|
|• All features work well – not compromised|
What to consider when choosing a car jump starter power pack
How big is your engine?
All the power packs we’ve featured are capable of providing a boost for the vast majority of new cars sold in the UK. However, it’s worth checking the rating of the unit you’re looking at before clicking ‘buy’. The maximum engine size for a diesel engine will be smaller than for a petrol motor.
Do you want the extra features?
Many of the jump starter power packs feature a torch and USB ports for charging a smartphone or tablet. You tend to pay more for these extras, so ask yourself if you’ll ever use them.
Study the safety features
The best power packs feature protection against incorrect connections and sparks. Always read the instructions carefully.
Is your battery on its last legs?
If the battery was flat, ask yourself why. It might be something simple like an interior light left on, but if not it could be time to replace the battery. Don’t rely on the power pack to get you home – replace the battery at the earliest opportunity. Remember, batteries deteriorate over time and their performance suffers in cold weather.