If you’re an electric car owner, you know the importance of keeping your vehicle charged. But what do you do when your car battery dies and you’re stranded? In this article, we’ll show you how to jump start an electric car so you can get back on the road.
We’ve all had to jump start our car at one time or have known someone who has, because 12-volt batteries are pretty tricky. If you’re wondering about the relationship between electric vehicles and jump starting, read on.
Electric cars have two batteries
Electric vehicles have two batteries, and one of them may need a jump starter at some point.
In electric cars there is one large battery, the one that powers the engine and makes the car run, and a second, smaller battery. This second battery powers the low-power components, such as the lights, wipers and locks, and is essential for starting the car.
In some high-end vehicles, the secondary battery is a smaller lithium-ion unit, but in many cases you’ll open the hood and find an ordinary 12-volt car battery, the same type as a gasoline car battery, with the same limitations on charge life.
Can an electric vehicle be started by another car?
You can start an electric car in the same way as a gasoline car. Although the chances that you will have to do so are slim, due to the way the power system of an electric vehicle works.
In the case of gasoline cars, their batteries are recharged by the car itself, thanks to the alternator that generates electricity from the rotations of the engine.
As everyone knows, the batteries of gasoline and diesel cars are known to lose their charge quite quickly, especially if the car is stationary for a few weeks (although disconnecting the battery solves the problem).
The smaller battery in an electric car draws on the vehicle’s main battery if its charge level is too low.
If you leave an electric car with the main battery at zero percent for too long, the 12 V battery will eventually die as well.
In some cases, having a dead 12V battery can prevent the main battery from recharging. In this situation, you can get a jump from another car the old-fashioned way.
If you ever need a jump starter, the process is exactly the same as if you were driving a gasoline car. You just have to make sure you unplug the car from the charger, otherwise you risk damaging the car’s electrical system.
How does a jump start affect an electric car?
A jump start only applies to the smaller 12 V battery, which cannot transfer power to the larger lithium-ion battery that powers the wheels of an electric car. This jump start will not affect the car’s range at all.
Can you start a gasoline or diesel car with an electric car?
Yes, although it is not a good idea.
It is physically possible for an EV or hybrid to start another car, but the way to do it is a little different. It can usually be achieved by connecting the two car batteries with a standard set of jumper cables and waiting for the power to change hands.
Electric vehicles do not have an ignition circuit like fuel cars, and their 12 V batteries do not need a large force (in fuel cars the battery provides a “power bump” to start the engine). This is the main difference and the drawback.
You could damage the battery of the electric car
In short, you could damage the battery, its control software or the converter, a fundamental part for the operation of an electric car. It does not pay to try to use it to start another car.
Manufacturers specifically discourage using an electric vehicle to start a fuel-powered vehicle.
The Tesla Model S manual makes it very clear: you cannot start another vehicle with the Tesla, as doing so can cause serious damage. Also, doing so would void the warranty.
However, electric vehicle brands do allow electric vehicles to be started by fuel-powered vehicles, as long as they use batteries with the same 12 V voltage.