Can You Jump Start a Tesla? [Step-by-Step Guide]


Can a Tesla Be Jump Started?

Since 2003, Tesla has been on a mission to prove that electric cars could be better, faster, and more fun to drive than their gasoline-powered counterparts. They strive to bring clean transport and clean energy to the forefront of automobiles, creating not only environmentally friendly vehicles but also building their own cleaner energy generation and storage products. 

One frequently asked question about Tesla vehicles is: can a Tesla be jump-started? Yes, you can jump start a Tesla’s 12v auxiliary battery. The 12v battery is found under the front hood, and powers the vehicles electronics, not the motor. You cannot however jump start the Tesla’s main driving battery. The only way to power the Tesla’s main battery is to charge it.

With more and more Tesla cars in production and the fact that most people are not well-versed in how to take care of them, there are many simple questions that beg for answers. This is one—so let’s get started.

» MORE: What Happens When a Tesla Battery Dies on the Road?

My Tesla Died: What Do I Do?

Teslas are electric cars, this means that they run on electricity only. Each car has two batteries – a main battery that powers the car and a smaller 12v auxiliary battery that gives power to the car’s safety systems and controls. When the Tesla is charged, the main battery makes sure that the secondary battery stays topped off. However, when the main battery dies, the secondary battery may die as well.

So, if your Tesla completely runs out of charge what do you do?

Technically, all you need to do is contact Tesla Roadside Assistance. This is a service provided by Tesla for the duration of you vehicles warranty (4 years 50,000 miles for new Teslas, or 1 year 10,000 miles after that period if you bought a used Tesla).

Tesla Roadside Assistance can be contacted by phone at 877-798-3752 or via your Tesla Smartphone App.

They will send someone out to properly tow you to the closest charging station.

Please note: Tesla Roadside Assistance does not cover “Out of Battery” towing for free. There will be a fee. However, they do cover Flat Tires, Lockouts, and Breakdown Towing, for free.

» MORE: The Hidden Location of the Model 3 12v Outlet Revealed

How To Jumpstart Tesla 12v Battery?

The only time you should need to jumpstart a Tesla is when the 12v battery has died.

If you’ve run out of charge on your main battery, there’s a chance your 12v battery may die soon after. In order to access your car, change the settings to Tow Mode, and anything else powered by the 12v battery, you’ll need to jumpstart it.

It is also possible that, after 3-5 years, your 12v battery may die on it’s own. But thanks to Tesla, your car will notify you about 2 weeks ahead of time.

How To Jumpstart Tesla 12v Battery:

  1. Remove the front tow eye cover
  2. Locate the positive and negative connections
  3. Use jumper cable to connect external battery to connections (red first, then black)
  4. Power ON external battery
  5. Front trunk will automatically open
  6. Power OFF external battery
  7. Disconnect connections to external battery (black first, then red)
  8. Replace front tow eye cover
  9. Remove plastic panel under front trunk
  10. Locate 12v battery
  11. Use jumper cable to connect Tesla battery to external battery (red first, then black)
  12. Power ON external battery
  13. Wait for 10 minutes (Tesla screen will power ON)
  14. Power OFF external battery
  15. Disconnect connections to external battery (black first, then red)
  16. Replace plastic panel under front trunk
  17. Close front trunk
  18. Plug in Tesla to charge (or drive to closest charger)

Depending on how your 12v battery died, it’s probably time to get a new one.

If your Tesla is still under warranty, the new 12v battery should be covered for free. If not, it may cost about $150 for a new one.

We recommend keeping one of these external battery jumpers in the car with you at all times. It may come in handy to get you out of an emergency one of these days!

» MORE: What to Do if Your Tesla Gets a Flat Tire?

How Do I Know My Tesla Is About to Run Out of Charge?

Just like gasoline-powered cars have fuel gauges that warn you when you are low on fuel, Tesla electric cars have warning systems in place to let you know when you are running low on battery power.

When your Tesla is getting low on battery charge, it will begin to warn you of the low charge.

  • The green bar under the speedometer will change to yellow when battery charge is getting low.
  • When there is about 5% of battery power left, the bar will change from yellow to red.
  • At this point, a dotted line appears to let you know that maximum power is limited. This means that the car will still run but will not reach maximum speed.
  • If you continue to drive the car until it reaches zero, you will have a red warning come up saying, “Charge Now!”
  • At this point, the car’s performance will become noticeably sluggish. It will still be able to reach 60 mph, but all the car’s processes will begin to slow down.
  • When the car fully runs out of power, it will sound a warning chime and display the command, “Pull Over Safely.”

Once you pull over to the side of the road, you should call Tesla Roadside Assistance or a towing service, whichever you prefer. Then you will follow the previously mentioned steps to get your Tesla to a charging station.

» MORE: Can You Flat Tow a Tesla? [Read This First]

In Conclusion

Tesla has taken the electric car market by storm with some truly amazing vehicles. However, there is a period of adjustment when you switch from a gasoline-powered vehicle to an electric vehicle. You must pay attention to the battery level on your Tesla and get used to making sure it has enough charge to get to where you are going safely in case there is nowhere to charge your car during your trip.

Also, remember there are 2 different batteries on a Tesla: the main battery that drives the car, and the 12v battery that powers the minor electronics. The main battery keeps the 12v battery topped off, but if you run your Tesla’s main battery to empty, your 12v battery may die soon after.

Luckily, jumpstarting a Tesla 12v battery is a simple process. Hopefully this article has been helpful in jumpstarting your Tesla’s 12v battery.

Tesla Discounts:

Greg Gottfried

The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg Gottfried, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. Being a Tesla owner allows Greg to fact-check information and personally try new scenarios out before publishing an article explaining the process.

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