Should You Use Jumper Cables or a Booster Pack?

Dealing with a dead car battery can be a real inconvenience. Your battery can die of something simple, like leaving the lights on for too long with the ignition off. (The reason you hear in the mall, “Licence plate LUVMYCR, your car lights are on.” Mall staff are trying to help your car battery!) In these cases, a quick jumpstart with the help of jumper cables or a booster pack should get you on your way again.

You have one of these options in your trunk, right?


Then let us help. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the differences between jumper cables and booster packs and help you decide which one is best for you.

Should You Use Jumper Cables or a Booster Pack - Devriez-vous utiliser des câbles de démarrage ou un bloc d’alimentation portatif

Jumper Cables

Jumper cables, also known as booster cables, are the most common piece of equipment used to boost a car battery. By connecting a dead battery to a working one with the cables, you can put your car back in action. However, for this method to work, you need access to a second battery.

As the default jumpstart method, jumper cables are quite affordable, especially compared to booster packs. They’re also super lightweight, and don’t require charging. In short, you’ll never notice them in your trunk until you need them.

Although they’re pretty straightforward to use, jumper cables can be quite dangerous. Storing cables incorrectly or trying to boost a frozen battery can be a serious safety hazard. If you choose to use jumper cables to boost your battery, don’t make any of these mistakes.

And if you’d like to know how use jumper cables so you can make an informed decision, you’ll find those instructions here.

Jumper Cables

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Booster Packs

A booster pack, jump starter, or jump box is another common piece of equipment used to jumpstart car batteries. Unlike jumper cables, a booster pack doesn’t need a second battery to work. This eliminates your need to wait for a Good Samaritan to pass by and offer their vehicle to connect to your jumper cables. A booster pack can bring your battery back to life all on its own.

Booster packs can also determine if the polarity of their cables is incorrect. If this happens, the pack won’t deliver any power until the connections are corrected. Jumper cables can’t do this, and you can do a lot of damage to your vehicle if you attempt to jumpstart it when the connections are crossed.

Most booster packs don’t weigh more than 10 kg, but they’re powerful enough to start a V8 engine. They’re incredibly compact, with some being small enough to fit in your pocket.

Booster packs can be used for more than just car batteries. Many come with power sockets, USB charging ports, air compressors, or emergency lighting, making them a multi-purpose tool.

The main disadvantage to a booster pack is you need to manually charge it. If you forget to recharge the pack between uses, it may be dead the next time you need it. Charge the pack at least every two or three months. If your car has a 12 V socket, you can hook up your booster pack to it and charge it while you drive.

Check out this article for more tips on how to get the most out of your booster pack, and this one for how to use one.

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What’s Better? Jumper Cables or a Booster Pack?

That’s for you to decide, but we’ll try to make the decision easier for you. Based on what we’ve covered so far, we’ll summarize the main differences between jumper cables and booster packs:

  • Jumper cables require a second battery—and therefore usually another person with a working vehicle—to work. Booster packs don’t.
  • Jumper cables are only used to jumpstart a battery. Booster packs are usually more versatile.
  • Jumper cables do not require regular charging. Booster packs usually require charging after a single use or every two to three months.
  • Jumper cables are much cheaper than booster packs.

Many people feel that booster packs are the superior choice, but there’s nothing wrong with using jumper cables if that’s what you’re more comfortable with. Whichever way you decide to boost your battery, make sure you follow the instructions carefully to avoid putting yourself or your vehicle at risk.

Both methods are fairly simple, but using a booster pack requires fewer steps.

Caring for Your Battery

If you care for your battery properly, you hopefully won’t need to use jumpstarting tools often, but it’s always best to prepare for the unexpected when on the road. (After all, in your attempt to get indoors quickly, you might forget to turn off your lights before running into the mall.) To keep your battery running for as long as possible, keep up a regular maintenance routine.

For more advice on picking your method of battery boosting, visit your local NAPA Auto Parts store to speak with an expert.

7 Replies to “Should You Use Jumper Cables or a Booster Pack?”

  1. Sandra Roberts says:

    I know this is stupid but I have to ask:

    Is there a device that can be left attached under the hood that would ensure a reliable start in cold weather every time?


    Is there a reliable block heater I can have installed in my 2005 Nissan Xtrail that will actually do a better than average job?

    As you can guess my older vehicle is just not starting properly with the -38°Celsius weather, even though it is always plugged in wham it is -15°Celsius or colder. This past week I cannot start it at all and I have a newer 5 year battery in it since last winter which was installed by AMA road assistance. Last year only boosting it could get it started, but at least it worked. I finally decided to get a new battery then… The fix last year is not working this year though, even with the newer battery.

    My vehicle is never ever EVER(!) warm enough to feel comfortable while driving but up until this latest cold snap I have always been able to start it without any issues. I need help and advice. Thanks to anyone who can assist.

    1. NAPA Canada says:

      Hi Sandra,
      I suggest you to read this article about block heaters:
      Hope it’ll answer your question!

      Eloïse Dussault | NAPA Canada

    2. Alan says:

      When you say it occurred last year as well, was that during the colder weather as well? It MAY be a starter if it occurs fairly consistently. Possibly loose battery connection? Possible corrosion on battery terminal/clamps and/or inside battery cables?

      If it only occurs in colder temperatures, try switching to full synthetic engine oil first to see if that makes any difference. Also ensure your block heater is working. Having your block heater on for 3 hours prior to starting in cold weather should be sufficient. The block heater itself may be defective, the extension cord, the electrical receptacle or the breaker for that receptacle may be tripped. Last year I had to re-wire my electrical receptacle I use for my block heater so it was on it’s own circuit as it kept tripping the breaker due to the pad of the block heater. Weird though that that breaker had never tripped the previous 18 years I used it for the block heater.

      1. Alan says:

        Hi Sandra,

        I forgot to add. I do not think there is anything you can leave attached under the hood to ensure a more reliable cold start other than perhaps a battery blanket to cover your battery, assuming the battery is the issue here. A battery blanket sure wouldn’t hurt though either way.

    3. James R says:

      Yes, there is. NAPA sells a charger, part number MBC 90300A, that is designed to be mounted under hood, where there’s room, and can be plugged in at the same time as your block heater. I have used one for years, and it is far better than a block heater alone.

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