Jump Starting Your Car with a different Car: Is it Harmful to My Vehicle?

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My Ram 1500 has had issues with portions of its dash ever since I bought it, basically you couldn’t see some the gear selector, and you couldn’t see the odometer. I really wanted to get it fixed, and found a specialized mechanic to get the job done. The main thing he made sure to tell me, to keep this from happening again, was to not jump my truck with someone else’s vehicle.

So shouldn’t you jump your car with someone else’s car? Electrical systems in vehicles can be temperamental, and when you jump your car with someone else’s car it can actually surge causing your vehicle to be damaged in the process. This surge of electricity can damage things like your dash (like mine) or even worse.

What if you do everything right?

Yes, there is a correct way to jump start a vehicle! You start with connecting the dead vehicle with positive to positive, and negative to negative.

You then go to the live vehicle and put the negative to negative and positive to positive.

However this really should only be done in an emergency and not a first course of action, as this is exactly what can damage your vehicle.

As mentioned, the live vehicle is going to be running when you perform this, and if you have ever seen a vehicle with a low idle, it tends to go high rev, then low rev and so on.

A vehicle that has a normal idle may not be as obvious, but it does the same thing.

Because of this, you are getting surges of electricity pushed into your dead vehicle, and causes the problem.

What do you do instead?

According to my mechanic, the best way to jump your vehicle if it dies is with a jumper box! If you have never heard of, or seen a jumper box, it is basically a handheld (generally) box like this one right here that has jumper cables coming out of it. You can charge up this box, and take it with you!

Then when your vehicle dies, you pull this box out of your trunk, hook it up to the battery, and bam you have a live battery again!

These jumper boxes are a consistent source of electricity, rather than a surge of electricity meaning that it will not cause the same problems as hooking it up to someone’s car.

A second great things about these, is that you don’t need a strangers car to make your car live again.

Should you drive with a bad battery?

Another big point that my mechanic brought up, is that when you have a bad battery, you should replace it ASAP!

Jumping your vehicle, or just driving your vehicle with a low charge can damage your vehicle, and cause considerably more cost than it would be just to buy a new battery and have it installed.

This also will mean you won’t be left stranded nearly as often, which you know, is always a good thing.

How often should you replace a battery?

You should think about replacing your car battery once every 3 years or so, however it should be more often if you are noticing your vehicle hasn’t been starting quite as quickly as it used to be.

Sure, I have seen batteries go 10 or even 15 years, however that just isn’t good practice.

Is there anything else that may make it seem like you have a bad battery?

The other primary culprit that may make it seem like you have a bad battery, is if you have a bad alternator! The alternator is a component of your vehicle that runs with your vehicle, and keeps your battery recharged.

If your alternator goes out, your vehicle will drain the battery, and die. This can actually happen while you are driving (I have had this happen myself).

Frequently Asked Questions

When jumping a car which cable goes on first?

When you are jumping a vehicle with a dead battery, you should always start with the negative (black) cable first. This will ground the cables, and make it less likely that you will experience a spark at that battery.

Can you jump start a car with a completely dead battery?

Jump starting a car with a completely dead battery is much more difficult than a slightly charged battery, however it can be done. That said, you should replace it right away, as it could leave you stranded.

Do I need to ground jumper cables?

The negative (black) side of the cables acts as a ground for jumper cables, so as long as you are utilizing that side of the cable you should not need to ground jumper cables.


All in all jump starting your car with a different vehicle is not the best idea. It can cause issues for both vehicles, and the consequences are never good!

Jumping it up with a jump starter box would definitely be more ideal in this case. There is also no need to drive around when you have a bad battery because that just won’t end well!