Portable Jump Starters

by Lori Straus

Since cars started using batteries, jump starting a dead battery always required another car. But another option has been around for a while now: portable jump starters. Not only can such a device help you out when there’s no one around to help you, it can also help you avoid asking strangers for assistance in the first place. In this blog post, we’ll explain some features that you might find on a portable jump starter and cover the basic steps on how to use one.

Features of a Portable Jump Starter

Essentially a booster pack that carries quite the boost, a portable jump starter usually comes with several inputs and outputs, for example, a USB output that lets you charge your personal devices. Other features could include an air compressor and/or a flashlight. Read the packaging carefully so you’re not paying for what you won’t use.

Jump starters also come with an AC adapter so you can charge it inside your vehicle. However, just to be on the safe side, make sure you’ve charged your jump starter before you go on any long trips. The last thing you want is to have your engine die when your portable jump starter isn’t at its full charge.

How to Use a Portable Jump Starter

We’re including these instructions here so you can see how easy it is to use one. Please follow the instructions with the unit you’ve purchased, though. Our instructions here are not meant to replace those.

  1. Remove your key from the ignition to make sure absolutely no power is accidentally being fed to the vehicle.
  2. Attach the red clamp to the positive side of your battery and the black clamp to the negative side. DO NOT MIX THESE UP.
  3. Turn on the jump starter.
  4. Turn on your engine.
  5. Turn off the jump starter.
  6. Remove the black clamp first, then the red clamp.

A Few Things to Remember

First off, if you’re frequently jump starting your engine, take it to a shop. It’s normal for a healthy engine to very occasionally lose its charge; however, a battery that needs frequent jump starting is not a healthy one.

Secondly, read the warnings in the manual. Although we can’t say that we’ve read every manual out there, we feel it’s highly unlikely that the warnings will include things like not running your hair dryer while you’re sleeping. These warnings are important, because you can cause a good deal of damage to the car and seriously injure yourself if you don’t use the jump starter properly.

One last thing: a jump starter is a battery and therefore sensitive to temperature extremes. Check your manual for proper storage instructions and don’t leave your battery somewhere where it will get really hot or cold.

A Convenient Way to Help Yourself

Having a portable jump starter with you to start a dead battery can help you get on your way on your own faster. However, always have roadside assistance information on you so that in case you can’t jump start your battery, you can call for trusted help right away.