Outdoors blog

RVs

Can I Jump an RV Battery With My Car?

When you have been camping for a while, or maybe not camping for a long while, you will find that your RV batteries start to act strangely.

You can jumpstart your RV if your car has a large enough engine; however, most smaller engines will not provide enough power. If you have a truck, or a large engine car, then jumpstarting the RV will be the same as jumpstarting a normal car.

You will need to overcome many dangers when jumpstarting an RV, especially if the only thing you have is a car. It can be tricky if you already know how to do it and dangerous if you are unsure how to jumpstart a car, which is why you need to know all the challenges.

 

Why Is It Tricky to Jumpstart an RV With a Car?

Batteries all have operating power limits that determine how much power they can provide when drawn upon. Further, the alternator in a car can only provide a specific amount of power, even when you are revving the engine to ensure the maximum is being provided.

When an engine starts, it always draws the most power it ever will from the battery; this is why the lights on the dashboard always dip when you are starting the car. When an RV starts, it will usually require a lot more power than the battery and alternator from your car may be able to provide.

This is why it can be tricky; if your car engine is too small, it will not have a battery that is strong enough to provide the necessary power to the RV. This can lead to the RV battery physically drawing out all the power from your car or causing permanent damage to the car battery.

 

What Are the Dangers of Using a Car to Jumpstart An RV?

Before you start hooking up the wires to your RV and your car, you will need to know the dangers of jumpstarting this way. Many people have had their cars significantly damaged because of doing this the wrong way, with a great deal many hurting themselves.

We have listed all of the dangerous things that might happen while you are busy jumpstarting your RV from your car. It should be noted that these are the things that can go wrong specifically with a car and RV and will not be things that can happen with jumpstarting a car normally.

Sudden Drop

The most likely thing to happen is that your car battery and the alternator will not be able to provide enough power for your RV to start. As you try to turn over the RV and get it to start, it will draw an immense amount of power from your car, causing a sudden drop in power.

This sudden drop in power often causes your car engine to die completely, causing a system-wide failure. This damages several components of your engine and can cause complete flooding of the internal chambers of your car engine, causing more problems.

Electric Shorts

When connecting the cables to the terminals of the batteries, you will always find some sparking happening; this is entirely normal. However, when you try to jumpstart an RV with your car, the RV can cause a surge back of power that causes your car wiring to be short.

It has become rare with modern cars and electronics to happen, but the chance is still there, often causing thousands in damage. The car engine is not always ready or capable of handling a sudden surge of power flowing back in from the RV as it fails to start up, and the power is no longer needed.

Long Term Damage

When a car battery is overtaxed, its damage is not always immediately visible, as it can quickly compensate. However, a few weeks or months after jumpstarting the RV, the battery may start to fail regularly or not charge itself while you are driving.

This may be because the battery experienced a surge when jumpstarting or that too much power was drawn from it when the RV tried to start. There is usually no easy way to fix this damage to the car battery, and it will need to be entirely replaced to ensure your car continues to work.

 

What Can Be Used to Jumpstart an RV Battery?

Now that we know why it may be a bad idea to jumpstart your RV using a normal car, we need to focus on what vehicles can be used to jumpstart your dead RV. Many people have the right tools to jumpstart their RVs properly; they are just unaware of it.

We would always recommend having four tools with you to ensure that your RV can be started, two of which will require a truck or another RV. It is important to remember all of these when you are going on vacation with your RV.

Large Trucks

F250s and larger are considered rather large trucks, usually capable of hauling and towing vehicles as large as RVs. Many RV owners have these towed behind them to ensure they have something to drive around a town or location once they have fully set up their camps.

These trucks all have larger batteries and alternators than can easily and comfortably jumpstart most other vehicles, including RVs. The batteries are made to be used to power anything that you may be doing near the truck, which means they are made slightly more resilient than normal car batteries.

Other RVs

Naturally, other RVs will have batteries that can comfortably and efficiently jumpstart your RV, which is why most people don’t bother using a car. When you are camping, there will usually be at least one other RV around that will be willing to help you get your RV started and on the road.

Most of the time, RV owners are all tightly knit groups that would be willing to work with each other to get their RVs running again. Gladly going out of their way to help each other, with many RV owners knowing all the ins and outs of their vehicles.

Battery Jumpers

These are specialized battery packs specifically made to jumpstart most vehicles, including RVs and other larger vehicles. Most people who have converted or done a lot of maintenance on their RVs will have these in their toolboxes, allowing them to jump when needed.

It should be noted that there are several different types of battery jumpers, all with higher or lower voltages than others. Most smaller jumpers will only be able to provide a quick shock to your engine, while many others will easily and comfortably recharge your entire battery.

Drip Charging

We recommend having these connected to your RV battery when it is parked at all the time anyway, but if your RV battery has run dry, they can charge it back up. Many people have these already installed in their RVs and require a wall socket to be plugged in to start the charging.

A drip charger can be used to restore some power to a battery that has gone completely flat, as it will give it enough power to start the engine. However, you will need to time this ideally; a battery that has been completely drained for several days may not be able to be recharged.

Conclusion

Your RV can be jumpstarted if your car has enough power in its battery to do so; however, this is unlikely owing to the efficiency of newer cars. However, there are several alternatives that you can use to jumpstart your RV that will comfortably allow your RV to drive off on its power.