If a Car's Charging System Isn't Working Properly, Why Can't We Start it With a Jump Pack?

Tips & Support
OPTIMA Batteries
Biloxi, MS

Here is the very specific scenario we are dealing with in this blog:

It has been determined that a vehicle's charging system/alternator is not functioning and the vehicle is currently not running. Can you start that vehicle with a jump pack?

The answer depends on several factors, not the least of which is the state of charge of the battery in the vehicle and the age of the vehicle. The answers tend not to be as good for newer vehicles that are more-demanding from an electrical standpoint. The problem is that the vehicle needs a source for electricity from somewhere. Typically, once an engine is started, the vehicle's charging system will provide this energy. If the charging system in this scenario is not functioning, then the electricity will come from the battery. 

In all likelihood, this situation has probably been going on for at least a little while, because the battery doesn't have enough power to start the engine, probably because it was already supplementing the vehicle's electrical demands when it was previously-run. If it doesn't have enough energy to start the vehicle, it probably won't have enough energy to power the vehicle in the absence of the vehicle's properly-functioning charging system.

A Jump pack is essentially a battery attached to a set of jumper cables, so if a vehicle has a deeply-discharged or bad battery and a functional charging system, a jump pack can get a vehicle started and the vehicle's charging system can provide power once the vehicle is started, but that's not possible in this scenario. Depending on the jump pack being used, most of those devices don't hold much reserve capacity and are unlikely to be able to be used safely to power a vehicle, once it has been started, especially if the battery is located under the hood. 

So what can you do in this scenario besides fixing the charging system right away? You can install a fully-charged car battery. That may get the vehicle started and may allow the vehicle to be driven, but probably not for very long- your destination should probably be a safe location, where the car can be repaired properly. However, as we mentioned before, newer vehicles are far more-demanding from an electrical standpoint and may require a minimum voltage level for some components to function. Once the battery's voltage level drops below that, the car will likely stop running. If neither of those solutions are an option, the vehicle will likely need to be towed.

One thing you can do to maximize the performance and lifespan of your car battery, regardless of the brand, is to keep the battery fully-charged to at least 12.6 volts and properly-maintained, whenever possible. OPTIMA offers a full line of chargers and maintainers that can do a great job on all 12-volt flooded lead-acid, AGM or lithium iron phosphate batteries.