Does a Jump Starter Have to be Fully Charged to Work?

do you have to charge a portable jump starter
Hands of car mechanic using portable car jump starter to start-up engine. Close up view.

If you own or recently purchased a jump starter for your vehicle, you might wonder if you need to keep a close eye on the charge level of the jump starter. Will your jump starter work if it isn’t 100% fully charged? 

While it’s not good to tempt fate, you also don’t have to go overboard and check the charging status of your jump starter every day. Or even every week! 

A good quality jump starter can do a lot more than we give them credit for. 

Our Experience

A few years back, one of our writers took a little road trip to Mexico. For good measure, they took along a jump starter. 

While they never needed to use the jump starter for their own vehicle, they found that they ended up using it several times for stranded motorists on the side of the road or at gas stations. 

Our writer found that even when the jump starter charge was down to 50 percent, they were still able to jump-start a few 4-cylinder engines. 

Quality Counts

We should point out that this isn’t always the case. Some brands simply aren’t as powerful as others. 

If you are interested in seeing how your jump starter works, test it out. Try jumpstarting several vehicles and see how far you can go before the jump starter no longer works. 

A huge 8-cylinder truck will take far more juice than a small 4-cylinder vehicle but keep notes about what size engine you jumped and the status of the jump starter. 

If you find that you can only jump 2 or 3 small vehicles before your jump starter must be recharged, you might want to find a better-quality unit. 

In our experience, some of the best quality jump starters are brands such as NOCO, TackLife, Beat It, NexPow, and Trekpow. There are other good brands as well, check out our review of the top 5 jump starters for more

So How Often Should You Charge Your Jump Starter? 

Nearly all manufacturers state that you should charge your jump starter at least every 3 months, even if it’s just been sitting in the trunk. 

Lithium-ion batteries don’t suffer from the “battery memory” issues that older nickel-cadmium batteries do, so as long as you have a lithium-ion based battery, you don’t have to worry about completely discharging the jump starter before you recharge it. 

Pro-Tip: Prolonging the Life of Your Jump Starter

Although your jump starter doesn’t have battery memory, it can still be overcharged, so always remove it from the power source once the battery has reached 100%. 

Also, it helps to have a place to store your jump starter where it won’t’ get tossed around and bumped by other items. If you have a case for it, store it there. Try keeping it under the seat or in the glove box. This prevents it from becoming damaged over time. You can learn more about how to charge it here.

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