Can You Jumpstart an Electric Vehicle?: Finding the LV Battery is the First Step

Understanding EV Batteries

Before diving into the electric vehicle jumpstart process, it is essential to understand the different types of batteries used in EVs. EVs typically have two main types of batteries: the high-voltage (HV) battery and the low-voltage (LV) battery.

The HV battery, or high-voltage battery, is the primary power source for the vehicle, providing energy for propulsion and running various electrical systems. It is a large, high-capacity battery pack that stores energy in the form of direct current (DC). The HV battery is responsible for powering the electric motor and ensuring the vehicle’s overall performance.

On the other hand, the LV battery, also known as the low-voltage battery, auxiliary battery or 12-volt battery, is similar to the traditional lead-acid battery found in ICE vehicles. It is responsible for powering the vehicle’s auxiliary systems, such as lights, infotainment systems, and other electrical components. The LV battery also plays a crucial role in starting the vehicle and supporting the HV battery’s operation.

Can You Jumpstart an Electric Vehicle?

Now to address the key question: can you jumpstart an electric vehicle? The answer is yes, but with a few caveats. Jumpstarting an EV is possible, but it requires a different approach compared to jumpstarting an ICE vehicle.

The first step in jumpstarting an EV is to locate the LV battery. Unlike ICE vehicles, where the battery is typically found under the hood, EVs may have their LV battery located in different areas of the vehicle. It is essential to consult the vehicle’s manual or contact the manufacturer to determine the exact location of the LV battery as this changes between vehicle make and model.

Some common areas where you might find the LV battery include the trunk or cargo area, under the seats, in the engine bay and in the side panels.

How to Jumpstart an Electric Vehicle

Once you have successfully located the LV battery in your EV, you can proceed with the jumpstarting process. Here are the steps to follow:

1.) Safety First: Before attempting to jumpstart any vehicle, ensure that both the donor vehicle (the one providing the power) and the recipient vehicle (the one needing the jumpstart) are in a safe location and turned off. Put on high-voltage graded rubber safety gloves and goggles to protect yourself from any potential hazards.
Identify the Terminals: In an EV, the LV battery terminals are typically marked with positive (+) and negative (-) symbols, just like in an ICE vehicle. Identify these terminals on both the donor and recipient vehicles.

2.) Connect the Jumper Cables: Connect the positive (+) jumper cable to the positive terminal of the LV battery in the donor vehicle. Then, connect the other end of the positive jumper cable to the positive terminal of the LV battery in the recipient EV. Next, connect the negative (-) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the donor vehicle’s LV battery. Finally, connect the other end of the negative jumper cable to a suitable grounding point in the recipient EV, such as a metal bracket or unpainted metal surface.

3.) Power on the Donor Vehicle: Start the donor vehicle and let it run for a few minutes to allow the LV battery to charge the recipient EV’s LV battery. Start the Recipient EV: After the donor vehicle has been running for a few minutes, attempt to start the recipient EV. If the jumpstart is successful, the recipient EV should start up without any issues. If not, double-check the connections and try again.

4.) Disconnect the Jumper Cables: Once the recipient EV has started, carefully disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order of how they were connected. Start by removing the negative (-) jumper cable from the grounding point in the recipient EV. Then, remove the negative jumper cable from the donor vehicle’s LV battery. Finally, remove the positive (+) jumper cable from both LV batteries.

5.) Let the Recipient EV Run: Allow the recipient EV to run for a few minutes to ensure that the LV battery is sufficiently charged. This will help prevent any potential issues when shutting off the vehicle and starting it again later.

6.) Most importantly: It is often best practice to seek professional assistance. An EV can be jumpstarted using another vehicle, but many technicians advise that it is often much safer to have a dedicated battery jumper featuring some form of electronic assist so that the vehicle is protected from system surges.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Can Jumpstarting an EV Damage the Vehicle?

Jumpstarting an EV, when done correctly, should not cause any damage to the vehicle. However, it is essential to follow the proper procedures and consult the vehicle’s manual for specific instructions.

Q2: Why is it important to find the LV battery first?

Locating the LV battery is crucial because it is the source of power for starting the vehicle. Without accessing the LV battery, jumpstarting an EV would not be possible.

Q3: Can I use a regular jumper cable to jumpstart an EV?

While regular jumper cables can be used to jumpstart an EV, it is recommended to use jumper cables specifically designed for EVs. These cables are designed to handle the higher voltage and current requirements of EVs.

Q4: How can you open the hood to get to the LV battery and jump it, if there's no 12-volt power to actually open the hood?

If your vehicle is a Tesla, there is a pair of wires that are located just behind the front tow hook cover in the front bumper cover. With a 12V battery jump pack on hand, press firmly on the top right perimeter of the tow hook cover until it pivots inward, then gently pull the raised section out toward you. Pull the two wires out of the tow eye opening and connect them to the jump pack: red positive to red positive, black negative to black negative. Be aware that these wires are not a charging point for the LV battery. Applying 12V power to these wires will only pop the hood release, but now you can gain access to the LV battery inside.

Q5: What other options do I have if I can't jumpstart my EV?

If you are unable to jumpstart your EV or if the LV battery continues to have issues, it is best to contact roadside assistance or a professional EV technician for further assistance.

Q6: How can I prevent LV battery issues in my EV?

To prevent LV battery issues in your EV, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, including regular battery inspections and replacements when necessary. Additionally, avoid leaving the vehicle’s electrical systems running for an extended period without the HV battery being charged.

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