Tesla leads the world in electric car technology and continues to make significant innovations. But is it possible to jumpstart electric cars in California like gasoline-powered cars?
Yes, you can jumpstart a Tesla’s auxiliary battery. This is a 12V battery that you can find under the front hood of Teslas. The auxiliary battery powers Tesla’s electronics but not the motor. The main battery that powers the motor cannot be jumpstarted. Keep reading for the details.
You can jumpstart the auxiliary battery using another car or a portable jumpstarter. All electric cars in California have two types of batteries.
The main battery is used to power the motor and cannot be jumpstarted. The secondary battery, or the auxiliary battery, powers the EV’s safety systems and electronics.
The only way to start the main battery is to recharge it. Since Tesla is a new concept, most people don’t know how to jumpstart them.
Here is the quick low-down on jumpstarting a Tesla:
- Buy a portable jumpstarter
- Pop the hood and unlock the tow eye cover
- Find the two black and red cables
- Connect the portable jumpstarter cables to the red and black wires. You can also use the jumper cables from another car.
- Provide power to the portable jump starter
- Disconnect the portable jump starter cables
- Find the maintenance panel in the inner part of the front trunk and remove it.
- Now connect the battery cables to the portable jump starter for 10 minutes.
- Red cables connect to red wires, and black wires connect to black. This should turn on the dead battery.
Note: Do not attempt to jumpstart other cars using your Tesla. This can potentially damage your car and isn’t worth the risk.
Instead, consider buying a dedicated jumpstarter for lithium-ion batteries for emergencies. The following sections go into more detail.
The first step in jumpstarting a Tesla in California is to buy a portable jumpstarter.
Make sure to buy a jump starter compatible with your Tesla’s batteries. The best portable jump starter has a capacity of 12V.
We found this jumpstarter from Amazon to fit the bill. It comes with an LED panel to help you keep track of everything.
The jumpstarter mentioned above can be used with electric cars, electric trucks, and electric SUVs. Moreover, it is lightweight, so it won’t take up much space in your vehicle.
Once you have bought a portable jumpstarter, you can progress to the next step.
The 12V auxiliary batteries are found under Tesla’s hood, sitting next to the firewall. But you cannot open the hood if there is no charge in the battery.
Depending on the model, there are a few methods of gaining access to the battery. Let’s explore some options here.
Also read: Can You Get a Tesla Without a Sunroof? [7 Reasons]
Tesla Model X and Model Y have a pull system on the front bumper. This lets you access the hood of the Tesla with ease.
A small panel is located on the right of the Tesla. Use a flathead screwdriver or sharp knife to wedge it under the board. Now pry the board off by gently applying pressure.
The panel should pop off and reveal the two red cables. The red wires are labeled “1” and “2. First pull on “1” and then pull on “2”.
Doing so will release the locks in the frunk. You’re now in. If the above doesn’t make sense, you can check this video out for a visual.
The process for Model S and 3 is different. Let’s take a look at them below.
Open the tow eye cover to access the hood of Model 3 and Model S. The tow eye cover can be found on the driver’s side of the electric car.
On the front bumper, you should see a tiny circle opening. You don’t need a metal screwdriver to open the tow eye cover.
The easiest way is to press at the top right corner of the circle. This will loosen the panel and reveal a 12V wire.
If you take a peek inside, there will be a thread for the tow screw. Here is a visual demonstration for how it’s done.
The two cables may be connected to the tow eye cover. They may also be found inside the panel. Their exact location depends on the model of your Tesla.
Once you have located the cables, gently pull them out of the cover. This is not necessary but makes the next step a bit easier.
When connecting the cables from the portable jumpstarter cables, always connect them to matching wires.
- The red cable (positive) form the Tesla connects to the red cable of the jumpstarter
- The black cable (negative) from the Tesla connects to the black cable of the jumpstarter.
Connect the positive cables before connecting the negative wires. Doing it the other way round is not recommended.
Once the cables are connected, you can provide power to the jumpstarter for some seconds. Next, power the wires for a few seconds.
This will open the (front trunk) frunk of the Tesla. This will allow you to provide power to the auxiliary battery.
Click here: Can You Tow a Tesla Using a Tow Truck? [11 Main Reasons]
Now that the frunk compartment is open, turn the portable jump starter off. Disconnect the cables from the Tesla.
When disconnecting the wires, always start with the negative cables before the positive cable. Now return the Tesla’s cables to their original position and open the tow eye cover.
Expose the electric vehicle’s battery by removing the panel. You can now connect the portable jump starter with the battery cables.
Make sure to connect the red cables before proceeding to the black ones. Before applying power, always check that the wires are correctly connected to avoid issues.
Now that the cables are correctly connected, you can activate the portable jumpstarter. Just Make sure to provide power for at least 10 minutes.
The auxiliary battery will have enough charge in ten minutes to activate the car’s electronics. This includes the touchscreen and computers.
This will not be enough to drive Tesla. There is no realistic way a portable jumpstarter can contain this much charge.
In any case, you should be able to get your car on a tow truck.
Time to disconnect the portable jumpstarter cables after you’ve charged the Tesla. Just make sure to disconnect the black cables before the red wires.
Now put the plastic panel back in place to cover the auxiliary battery. Securely close the frunk compartment.
Tesla’s instruction manual warns against jumpstarting another car. Electric vehicles in California are not designed for jumpstarting other cars.
The instruction manual warns that jumpstart another car will damage the Tesla. This is because electric cars are powered by low voltage batteries.
EVs do not have enough power to jumpstart other cars. Even if you see videos of people jumpstarting ICE-cars with Teslas, it’s not worth it.
As the old saying goes, the juice is not worth the squeeze.
If the main battery dies, it’s a matter of time before the auxiliary battery dies. Once the auxiliary battery runs out of juice, you can jumpstart your Tesla.
You can do a few things if your Tesla battery dies on you. Our recommendation is always to contact Roadside Assistance.
You can also use a portable jumpstarter, as mentioned above. This might give you enough juice to drive to the nearest supercharger. If this is not possible, you can call for a tow truck.
Most auxiliary batteries have a lifespan of 5 years. Tesla’s electronics will notify you two weeks before the battery finally dies.
Several warning systems are in place to indicate low battery on electric vehicles. Here are a few signs:
- The charge is low if the bar under the speedometer changes from green to yellow.
- At 5% power, the bar changes from yellow to red. Now things are getting serious.
- Tesla electronics will restrict maximum power to conserve charge. This allows the electric car in California to run. However, it will not reach full speed. Performance will also get steadily worse.
- Your priority should be to drive the car to the nearest charger. A red warning will persistently ask you to charge the vehicle.
- The performance will get progressively worse. It should be able to reach 60 mph, but controls will feel sluggish and unresponsive.
- A warning asks you to pull over when the battery is on its last legs.
If you are uncomfortable with jumpstarting your Tesla, there are a few options. Let’s take a look at some options.
Roadside Assistance should be your first point of contact when the battery dies. This service is available courtesy of Tesla throughout the year, round the clock.
The service is available if Tesla is still under the warranty period. Teslas have a warranty period of four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Secondhand cars have a warranty of just 1 year or 10,000 miles. The warranties are subject to your distance for the nearest Tesla service center.
You may not qualify for the service if you are too far away. The service center covers lockouts, towing, and flat tires.
Other services like depleted battery charge and out-of-range services are not currently supported. You will also have to pay a small fee. The amount varies based on where you live.
You can contact the service center by contacting 1-877-798-3752 for North American residents. Those living in Mexico can dial 1-800-228-8145.
You can avail Roadside Assistance by using the mobile app. Navigate to Controls and select “Service”.
You will be asked to provide some information to the service providers. This includes your location, problem, and Vehicle identification number.
Check out: What You Should Know About Cabin Overheat Protection in Tesla EVs? [7 Reasons]
Having your Tesla towed is a safe option. However, there are a few things you need to know.
Unlike gas-powered cars, you cannot tow your Tesla with the wheels on the ground. This is because when the Tesla’s wheels spin, they generate power.
This can lead to overheating and may damage the car. Be very careful who you’re calling in to tow your Tesla.
The best option is to call for a tow truck with a flatbed. This will transport your Tesla safely without moving the wheels.
Make sure to activate Transport Mode before you get the Tesla on the flatbed. This will engage the parking brake and securely lock the wheels.
Can’t access the electronics because the auxiliary battery died? Jumpstart the auxiliary battery using the methods lined above.
Once the systems are back up and running, you can activate Transport mode. Here’s how:
- Select Controls > Service > Towing
After this, you will be briefed on how to transport your Tesla safely. Press and hold the “Transport Mode” button until it turns blue.
This will allow your Tesla to be safely placed on the flatbed.
You can use it if the powerbank is rated for 12V auxiliary batteries. Several portable powerbanks come with jumper cables to jumpstart EVs.
So there you have it, you can jumpstart a Tesla. All you need is a portable jump starter to get the job done.
The exact method of jumpstarting the auxiliary battery depends on your Tesla. You can also call Roadside Assistance or a flatbed tow truck.
But it is best not to allow the battery to get too low. Always keep your battery charged at 80%. If the charge dips under 30%, your priority should be finding the nearest charger.
So have you jumpstarted your Tesla before? If so, how did the whole process work out? Share your experiences with us, and we will update this space with more information!
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My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.