Check Your Car’s Jump-Start Points Before You Cause Damage

Not all cars jump-start the same way. Here’s what to know before you do something you regret.

byPeter Nelson| PUBLISHED Jun 30, 2022 9:15 AM
Check Your Car’s Jump-Start Points Before You Cause Damage
Ferrari / Samcrac YouTube Channel

In the grand scheme of automotive maintenance, jumping a low or dead battery is a generally easy and simple process. Connect cables to the proper battery terminals on each vehicle, let it sit a second, try to crank it, and let it run to recharge the battery—done. Here at The Garage, we've got a thorough explainer on what each step looks like. It’s not always that straightforward, though.

There's a massive asterisk that should accompany any strategy for reviving certain car batteries, especially if they're in an exotic like a Lamborghini or Ferrari: Follow the manufacturer's recommendation or design. As YouTuber Samcrac points out in a recent video, jumping a car directly from the battery can lead to damaging, then fixing or replacing, some very expensive parts, like an early 2000s Ferrari ECU.

Ferrari dealer and service gospel is to avoid jumping these high-tech steeds altogether. These warnings can be found on dealership websites, like Cauley Ferrari of Detroit: "The most important thing to remember is DO NOT JUMP START YOUR FERRARI!” it states. They must be serious with that all-caps action. “You can completely damage your electronic systems which would be extremely expensive to repair and not covered under your warranty."

However, the proudly DIY-inclined enthusiast in me reads stuff like this and instantly thinks, "the hell I can't!" Is this just one of many ways for service departments to make a buck off of their unknowing, well-heeled customers? 

Why can't you jump your own Ferrari? Sure, some of their expensive parts could be damaged, but there's got to be a proper way. As Samcrac outlines in the video, there's often a dedicated safe spot to jump them, such as behind the seat in his 360. That’s why I say "recommendation or design," as factory gospel might say one thing, but engineers still designed a method to be able to safely jump it. By jumping the 360 via this location, however odd it may seem, it sends the high voltage jolt directly to the starter first, and none of the expensive and sensitive electronics along the way.

This proves the point that it's important to always know what the exact process for jumping your own car is. Sure, most of us don't roll around navigating our daily lives in Ferraris, but there are still plenty of cars out there with batteries in locations far from the engine. My own BMW 128i, for example, stores the battery in the trunk, while a Porsche Cayman battery is in the frunk. OK, a Porsche Cayman isn't exactly an everyday fixture either (though it ought to be), but you get what I mean.

Conveniently, some Wisconsinites produced a series of videos to jump start my own BMW 128i, and I'm sure many other BMWs with batteries in the trunk (meaning, all of them?) are similar. The reasoning for the dedicated positive terminal to live under the hood is the same as the Ferrari's behind the driver seat: Put it close to the starter and away from any sensitive electronics. Plus, I bet it's just easier to do it this way when hooked up to a car with a battery under the hood.

Next time you're behind the wheel of something that doesn't have a cut-and-dry jumping procedure, it's best to do a little research to figure out exactly what the process is. It could save you a lot of money down the road. Also, my colleagues and I don't want to be responsible for you making the wrong decision in this matter, so approach at your own risk.