Can you jump start an electric car?

Fear about getting stuck on the side of the road in a hybrid or electric car? The good news is that they can be jump started

If you’re new to electric vehicles you may find it a surprise to learn that electric cars and hybrids come with two batteries. The first is the one that stores the electricity required by the electric motors, often a large lithium-ion unit. The second is the same 12-volt lead-acid battery that can also be found in petrol and diesel units.

The 12-volt battery not only powers features like the lights and windscreen wipers, but also ensures the lithium-ion battery can be charged. If you have run out of electricity and need to recharge your car, you’ll likely have to jump start it.

Can you jump start an electric car?

One of the times you may have to jump start an electric car is if it’s batteries are completely drained. The lithium-ion batteries may not be able to be recharged unless the vehicle is jump started via the 12-volt system to allow the electronics to operate first.

The good news is that electric vehicles can be jump started. The process is no different to any other vehicle. What might be harder is to locate the battery – as there is no engine in the front, and where the 12-volt battery lies differs between models.

Once you have located the battery, use a battery starter or another vehicle to boost it with appropriate jumper cables. You’ll likely have to use a petrol or diesel vehicle as a booster vehicle as electric vehicles often don’t have enough power to be used as booster vehicles.

However, an electric vehicle should not be plugged in to charge when you jump start it. This may fry some of the electronics on board, causing expensive damage. Instead, have the vehicle unplugged from the charger, only plugging it in once you’ve completed the jump start.

Can you jump start a hybrid?

Like electric vehicles, hybrids can also be jump started. The process should, in fact, be easier because the battery will likely be located next to the engine – as it is in a conventional car.

Can you use an electric car as a booster vehicle to jump start other cars?

It’s unlikely you can use an electric car to jump start a petrol or diesel vehicle. This is because they do not supply enough power to be able to jump start a 12-volt battery.

Nissan, for example, advises owners of the Leaf not to use it as a booster vehicle for this exact purpose.