A jump starter provides relief when the starter battery gives out. Here is an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of these battery boosters.
Sub-zero temperatures in winter put a strain on the car battery because the electrochemical processes run more slowly. And the frictional resistance in the engine also increases, due to the less fluid oil at cold temperatures. Especially with an older battery, this can mean: Nothing works any more. If the battery is completely ruined, the only solution is to call a breakdown service or install a new battery. In many cases, however, support from a mobile jump-start device is sufficient. Here is a compact overview of what you need to look out for in a jump-start device.
Top 10 Best Jump Starters
Things to Consider
Before buying a jump starter, you should check out test reports, reviews or, if in doubt, go to the specialist shop for clarification of all questions. Why? In a safety test of the ÖAMTC test (2016), three models failed. In each case, the housing of these devices melted during the short-circuit test – without a fire breaking out, but with strong heat and smoke development. One model was rated best in terms of safety; it was also the only product in the test that passed the IP protection test (tightness). But: In terms of power, the booster misses its target: It can only deliver the peak current (400 A) and also the starting current (200 A) to a limited extent. The tests also included deep discharge protection, overcharge protection and crush resistance.
Nearly all start booster units achieve consistently usable performance – but mostly only at room temperature. This was also found out in the ÖAMTC test: not a single device was able to call up the promised power (peak current of 400 A and starting current of 200 A) even at minus 18 degrees. This is not optimal, especially in winter, when these devices are most urgently needed. But: Even if the power is a little too low, a battery booster can still make the decisive difference between whether a car can be started or not.
Tip for the cold season
Do not store the jump starter in the car overnight in winter, but indoors at room temperature. This is because cold lithium batteries provide little energy. When they warm up moderately, their performance returns.
Ideally, jump starters should be small, light and powerful. However, if the device is to be used, it should also come with a useful instruction manual to help you use it correctly – and this is not a matter of course for every manufacturer. In general, jump-starting by a jump-start device (or by a third-party vehicle) may only be carried out if the starter battery is not completely discharged – and if a general battery defect or defect in the vehicle can be ruled out. Otherwise, the electronics may be damaged and the ABS, ESP or power steering may fail.