When Electric Doesn’t Save Combustion: The Dilemma of Jump-Starting

The Challenges of Quebec’s Cold Winters

The cold temperatures of a Quebec winter often test the limits of our car batteries. Who hasn’t heard the concerning sound of an engine struggling to start on a freezing morning? In these situations, the go-to solution is often to jump-start the car using the battery from another vehicle. However, if the assisting vehicle is electric, it’s best to resist the temptation. Here’s why.

The 12V Battery in Electric Cars

Contrary to what some may think, electric cars are not without their own 12V battery, similar to those in combustion engine vehicles. However, its purpose is different. In an electric vehicle, the 12V battery powers accessories such as screens, lights, or central locking systems. Its energy comes from the high-voltage battery (either 400V or 800V) through a DC-DC converter, unlike in combustion vehicles where it is charged by the alternator.

Risks of Using an Electric Vehicle to Jump-Start a Combustion Engine

Though it may be tempting, it’s strongly discouraged. Many vehicle owner’s manuals explicitly outline the risks involved in attempting this. While the voltage of these batteries may be similar to those in combustion engine cars, their power is not. Trying to start a combustion engine with an electric car’s 12V battery could not only fail but also risk damaging the battery or even its DC-DC converter.

Is the Reverse Possible?

The answer is nuanced. Depending on the electric vehicle model, it might be possible to jump-start it using a combustion vehicle. However, this maneuver should be performed cautiously. It’s crucial to consult the owner’s manual before attempting anything. Furthermore, even if the high-voltage battery in an electric vehicle is fully charged, a faulty 12V battery could still prevent it from starting.

A Point to Note

Some electric cars offer an intriguing feature: the ability to charge another electric vehicle’s high-voltage battery through Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) charging. In this case, a simple charging cable connected between the two vehicles allows for the energy transfer.

In Conclusion

It’s vital to be informed and cautious before attempting to jump-start one vehicle using another, especially when the technologies differ. Electric cars, with their unique mechanisms, must be handled carefully to avoid high repair costs and to preserve their longevity.

Although this technology isn’t standard on all cars yet, if you have battery issues, consider consulting a Plug-in Garages for repair instead of replacing the entire battery unit.