November 24

Can You Jump-start a Hybrid Vehicle?


Jump-starting a hybrid car is pretty much the same as jump-starting any other vehicle. You need the same ingredients: an assisting car and a good set of jumper cables. Because of the way a hybrid car is designed, sometimes how a hybrid car might be jump-started can be a little different than a conventional car. This is something worth knowing about if you’re looking for a new or pre-owned car with Huffines Kia McKinney in Denton, Lewisville, and McKinney, or if you’re considering transitioning to hybrid power.

Hybrid vs. Conventional Cars

You might need to know some details that make jump-starting a hybrid vehicle slightly different. For example, the powertrain in hybrid cars isn’t standardized across the industry, and there can be various approaches. The 12-volt battery may be in a unique place on hybrid cars than where you might expect to find them. This difference in how the powertrain is laid out can make it challenging to jump-start the car at first.

Despite these differences, the answer to whether you can jump-start a hybrid car is a clear, unequivocal ‘yes’ for most models. In fact, you can start the car by attaching it to any 12-volt source.

The hybrid car often has two distinctive batteries. The first is the main high-voltage battery, which powers the car instead of the gasoline engine or will work alongside the gasoline engine for better fuel efficiency. Because a hybrid often has a high-voltage battery pack, it is commonly perceived that it’s not possible to jump-start these kinds of cars.

However, it is fairly straightforward to tell the difference between the larger battery packs that power the car and the smaller conventional batteries that’ll allow you to jump-start the model. What’s more, this can work in the other direction, too, where you can use a hybrid car to jump-start another car just by doing the same process in reverse. An added variance between jump-starting a hybrid and a conventional auto is that both the battery pack for powering the car engine and the conventional battery pack can lose power.

Probably the easiest way, unless you have a mechanic handy, is to try jump-starting the car. If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to have a mechanic look at the hybrid battery. You should also double-check that you haven’t run out of gas. Some models might shut down the hybrid battery pack if you have no gas, even if you have plenty of charge. You need to make sure that you have enough power to make it to a gas station, as sometimes you can only go a few miles on electrical power alone.

How To Jump-start a Hybrid

Clamp by Samuel M. Livingston is licensed with CC BY 2.0

Some hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius, are set up for jump-starting by providing an actual jump-start terminal under the hood. For most cars, the process involves locating the 12-volt battery under the hood, which should look similar to other cars, with the same positive and negative terminals.

The stages to jump-starting a hybrid are as follows:

  • Make sure everything is off in the car that needs a jump and the other car, such as air conditioning, radio, and lights.
  • Open the hood and look underneath the fuse box cover for the jump-start terminal.
  • Connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal in the hybrid.
  • Connect the red jumper cable’s other end to the other car’s positive terminal.
  • Connect the black cable to the negative terminal in the hybrid.
  • Connect the other end of the black cable to the negative battery terminal on the other car.
  • Start the engine in the other car and keep it running for about five minutes.
  • Start the hybrid car and wait until the notification is given.
  • Disconnect the jumper cables and close the hoods. Remember to disconnect the cables in the opposite order than when you connected them. Don’t let the cables come into contact with any other metal.

There May Be Some Hybrids You Can’t Jump-start

Some hybrid cars might not have this option. Most hybrid cars have a 12-volt battery and look like standard cars. This was certainly the case until 2017, but some newer models have done away with this. The Hyundai Ioniq and the Kia Niro have replaced the 12-volt battery with a lithium ore battery that’s usually found right next to the hybrid battery. If this battery dies, then the model is set up to draw power from the main hybrid battery, which means it is essentially jump-starting itself.

This is great news because this combination of batteries means these sorts of cars are less likely to need jump-starting. After all, the 12-volt battery is less likely to go flat. However, the bad news is that these cars simply can’t jump-start themselves, nor be started by other cars. Although you might occasionally come across these models, for most other hybrid cars, the process of jump-starting is pretty straightforward.

Be Prepared

Your best option for working out whether you can jump-start a hybrid is to make sure you know what kind of hybrid you have and whether this can be easily jump-started. Don’t forget that a lot of new cars will have a roadside assistance plan, and you won’t necessarily need to rely on having jumper cables available. However, if you’re concerned that a hybrid car might leave you stranded with a flat battery, don’t worry; more often than not, they still fit with the old ways of jump-starting.

Even if you do manage to jump-start a hybrid car, remember that a flat battery is often a sign that it’s approaching the end of its life, and you should make sure you have access to a replacement battery as soon as possible. If you’re looking for expert advice, reach out to Huffines Kia McKinney, we’re always ready to help.


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