Informational Guide

Do Jumper Cables Go Bad?

Before you jump start your car, it’s important to answer – do jumper cables go bad? After all, if they can go bad, you could be stranded when your car battery dies. In this guide, we cover if they can stop working and how to know if jumper cables are bad. 

Jumper cables are considered an essential piece of emergency road equipment. So, it's critical to know if these parts can go bad. For starters, it's necessary to determine what "going bad" means. Can jumper cables go bad? There’s nothing in the battery cables that will necessarily go bad, but there are ways for them to become less effective or broken. For example, if the cable clamps become corroded, you might not be able to get the connection you need to jump the battery. In this situation, you might feel like the jumper cables are bad.  

Over time, the battery cables fail to operate to the same level of efficiency, especially if they aren't taken care of. It's important that the cables maintain an optimal physical condition to work as intended. Any time that the wires become frayed, the clamps corrode, or the cables break, they will not work as intended.  

However, jumper cables aren’t going to go bad on their own. If they have been sitting unused, they could start to deteriorate. Additionally, if you haven’t taken care of them or you allowed the cables to sit in an area with a lot of moisture, they might not work the way you hoped they would. When in doubt, it’s best to replace the jumper cables before you run into a problem.  

Do Jumper Cables Go Bad

How To Tell If Jumper Cables Are Bad? (Causes & How To Test) 

There are some simple ways to tell if jumper cables are bad. You don’t even need a lot of mechanical knowledge to figure out if it’s time for a new set. With a physical inspection, you can see a lot about the condition of the jumper cables. To get started, take a few minutes to look the jumper cables over. 

If there is any exposed wire, the jumper cables are no good. You shouldn’t see any copper hanging out. Additionally, frayed wires close to the clamps are no good. You don’t want to see any wires sticking out. Finally, there should be no signs of corrosion. If the clamps are corroded, this is a dangerous sign.  

You should also take a closer look at the insulation of the wires. If the insulation is getting thinner or it has become ripped, you should avoid using these jumper cables.  

If you've done a physical inspection but see nothing wrong, you might want to double-check them with a multimeter. With the multimeter, you can measure resistance. When it is hooked up, it should read 0 ohms, or the buzzer should sound. With some simple testing, you can ensure that the cables aren't bad when you need them the most.  

How To Tell If Jumper Cables Are Bad

What To Do With Old Or Broken Jumper Cables? (Can They Be Fixed?) 

Are jumper cables bad for your car? Not if they are running optimally. However, if the jumper cables are no longer working as intended, it’s time to get rid of them. It’s time to replace them with a new set or consider getting a jump start box instead. 

So, what should you do with the old jumper cables? Sadly, there's no way to recycle the entire jumper cable. Still, you could break down the materials if you know what you are doing. You can pull out the wire for recycling and dispose of the rest of the cables.  

Above all, you shouldn’t use bad jumper cables for any automotive purpose. Not only could they be worthless to get the battery going, but they could create a dangerous situation, especially if there are exposed wires. For the price of new jumper cables, it doesn’t make sense to keep the old ones on hand.  

Bad jumper cables cannot be fixed, so go ahead and move on. Maybe in the future, a solution will be created that doesn’t need to be disposed of in the trash. For now, you can do the best you can to maintain your jumper cables, so you don’t have to throw any more away.  

Frequently Asked Jumper Cable Questions 

How do you best maintain jumper cables? 

When you are finished using the jumper cables, put them away in a safe location. You don't want them to incur damage, and they should always be kept in a low-moisture environment.  

Do rusty jumper cables work? 

Corrosion is the enemy of electric conductivity. If the jumper cables are corroded, the electricity needed will not conduct how it should, making it more difficult or impossible to start the battery.  

How much is the cost of new jumper cables? 

You can find decent jumper cables for less than $50. There are even some budget-friendly options for less than $25, which are suitable for economy or compact cars. For the price, there’s no reason to hold onto broken jumper cables.  


Before your car battery leaves you stranded, you need to know if the jumper cables are bad. With our simple inspection, you can tell if it’s time to replace them. There’s nothing more valuable than knowing you have the tools necessary to keep your car on the road.