Can Jumpstarting a Car Damage Your Battery?

Blog

Aug. 14, 2023

Whether you’ve accidentally left your lights on overnight or your car battery is having issues, you may need to jump start your car at some point. Though these occasions are much rarer than you may think, or movies and TV shows may have you believe, you should prepare for it as a driver.

When car batteries do need jumpstarting, for those that aren’t very mechanically minded, this can be a lot of pressure. If you do have to do it though, you may be concerned about whether or not it will damage your dead car battery.

In most cases, it should be okay, but we take a look into how to jumpstart your car properly and how it can damage your battery. Firstly, why might you need to jumpstart your car?

Why You Might Need to Jumpstart Your Car

The main reason you will need to jumpstart your car is due a flat battery. This can happen if you leave any electrical components for more than a few hours and didn't notice; like overnight.

Cold weather or a faulty alternator may also be at play. Some drivers notice an egg-like smell due to a dead battery leaking hydrogen gas, but this isn't always present.

In circumstances where the car battery is dead due to leaving the lights on, you may only need to jumpstart it once. As long as you ensure that the vehicle has had a good run, enough to charge the car battery anyway, and you don’t make the same mistake that drained it in the first place, you should be okay.

However, if the car's electrical system has an issue, you might need to jumpstart it each time until you take it into your local car dealership for repair.

They will have the necessary diagnostic and the expertise required to make sure everything is completely safe. They will also be able to tell you whether you have a damaged battery and if you need a new battery.

How to Jumpstart Your Car

In order to jumpstart your car, you need another power source and a pair of jumper cables (a positive cable and a negative cable). The alternative power source can be a battery or another car itself, often called a donor car.

Firstly, it's important to make sure that the two batteries, or vehicles, are close enough to each other. Please keep in mind that it's ideal to be doing this in a safe location. Where there is an electrical current or sudden voltage spike, you can hurt yourself and your vehicle.

Step-by-Step Guide

Once you've ensured that you are close enough, you should:

  • Open the hood of the car and locate the battery, this is indicated clearly in some modern cars
  • Connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the DEAD battery, which will be indicated by the plus sign.
  • Connect the red jumper cable to the positive side of the GOOD battery
  • Connect the black jumper cable to the negative terminal of the GOOD battery, which will be indicated by the minus sign.
  • Connect the black jumper cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface of the DEAD car.
  • Start the GOOD battery and let it run for a minute or two.
  • Try starting the car with the DEAD battery.
  • If it starts, disconnect the cables in the REVERSE order.

It's crucial that you only attempt to jumpstart your car if you are comfortable and confident in doing so. A flat battery can be dangerous on its own, not to mention other electrical components. To prevent damage, it's crucial to follow the above steps and use the cables carefully.

Once your car has been successfully jumpstarted, you should drive around for about 30 minutes to ensure that the battery is successfully charged and won’t need jumpstarting again.

Can Jumpstarting A Car Damage Your Battery?

Keeping in mind the instructions above, you can damage your battery if this isn’t followed properly.

For example, if you remove the jumper cables from the positive terminals in the wrong order or connect the cable to the wrong points, you can do irreparable damage to the battery and may create an issue that wasn’t even there in the first place.

It’s for this very reason that you should only jumpstart a car if you are sure that you know what you’re doing. If not, it’s much safer to speak to a car expert who can either help you through it or come out to do it themselves.

Other ways to cause electrical damage to your car during the jumpstarting process include:

  • jumpstarting a car that’s too hot
  • jumpstarting a car that’s too cold
  • jumpstarting a car with a battery that’s already damaged

It’s safe to say that navigating the situation of needing to jumpstart your car isn’t easy and though it may be a rare occurrence which only happens every few years, it will need careful and considered decision-making if it does happen to you.

Get Your Battery Checked With Race Auto Group

Cars are an everyday part of most people’s lives. Their value is undeniable but when something happens to them, such as a dead battery, it can be both frustrating and confusing. You'll be either annoyed at yourself for leaving the lights on or concerned that there is a wider issue with the electronics.

While there are a great number of minor car issues that can be solved yourself, you shouldn’t attempt anything you’re unsure of without mechanical experience. Jumpstarting a car can easily be done, with some basic knowledge, but you may want to still have your car checked out by a licensed mechanic to be safe.

Book an appointment today at Race Auto Group for your battery. We’re on hand to support you with any issue that arises with your car; including a dead battery. Though most dead batteries are caused by leaving something on by mistake, it’s certainly safer to ensure that there isn’t an underlying issue that will put you into the precarious situation of having to jumpstart your car more than once.

Contact our service team today and discuss all your vehicle needs, from batteries and beyond.