Can you jumpstart a car with a motorcycle? Important facts and myths busted!

By Arif

Car and Motorcycle standing together

Generally, a car is used to jumpstart another car with a dead battery. But can you jumpstart a car with a motorcycle battery?

The jumpstarting process works on certain conditions related to battery voltage, and engine capacity. A motorcycle battery may not be strong enough to power a car battery but in some cases, it does work.

If you want to know more about jumpstarting a car with a motorcycle, continue reading. In this post, you will learn about the prerequisites, precautions, and jumpstarting process to be applied while connecting a motorcycle to jumpstarting a car.

Can you jumpstart a car with a motorcycle?

In certain circumstances yes, you can jumpstart a car with a motorcycle. But the execution is dependent on some factors like the size of the battery, voltage power, amperage capacity, and more importantly the condition in which you are jumpstarting a car.

Jumpstarting a car battery with another car should be the first priority. It is also a more favorable and recommended option.

However, in the events leading to jumpstarting a car with a motorcycle, it is essential to consider the following factors before taking any action.

Battery voltage

First of all, the battery voltage of both vehicles should be equal. For example, most cars have 12.6 volts batteries so, a motorcycle getting used for jumpstarting should have an equal amount of battery volts.

The car battery requires a larger current flow to start which could hamper the technical functioning of a motorcycle battery due to its limited voltage capacity. 

If the battery voltage of a motorcycle is lower than that of a car it may not be able to provide enough power to start the car.

Consequently, attempting to jumpstart a car with a motorcycle having a low-voltage battery can potentially damage either vehicle’s electrical system.

Engine size

Generally, four-wheelers have a bigger capacity engine size than a motorcycle. The engine size/capacity doesn’t necessarily affect the ability to jumpstart a car with a motorcycle.

Harley Davidson tank

However, a 100cc bike may not necessarily boost the engine enough to transfer the current flow to a car’s 1400cc engine compared to a 650cc bike.

Secondly, bigger car engines pull too much power which could again be damaging the electrical components of a small-engine motorcycle.

Condition of the battery

The condition of the battery requiring a jumpstart should not be completely dead. If you are looking to jumpstart a battery that hasn’t been active for a long time say a year then jumpstarting it using a motorcycle may not produce desired results.

A completely dead battery demands really high power of electrical current and to do this a considerable amount of jumpstarting will be needed.

A standard motorcycle battery is not built to accommodate such large currents unless you have a two-wheeler with a really bigger engine and battery capacity.

Amperage capacity

The amperage capacity of a motorcycle battery is around 200amps and the requirement to jumpstart a car battery is between 200-400amps.

Related Read: How many amps can jumper cables handle?

Though the amperage capacity of a motorcycle battery is lower it can still jumpstart a car provided the battery has 12 volts of power.

A motorcycle with a lower amp capacity may take longer to jumpstart a car which could impact its sustainability to continue transmitting the power.

Conditions (weather) to perform jumpstarting

Weather conditions and the place where you want to perform the jumpstarting process are important. In hot temperatures, either vehicle component will remain heated up inside their respective hoods.

If you are intending to jumpstart a car with a motorcycle in an open area under the hot sun make sure the batteries are not overheated.

As part of the jumpstart process, you will need to keep the motorcycle in running stance and even rev to certain RPMs for instant results.

If you try to jumpstart batteries in overheating conditions it may produce sparks, and fire leading to explosions. To avoid such harmful impacts of hot weather, it is better to let the vehicle components cool down or perform the jumpstarting process under the shade or in a garage.

On the other hand, under cold weather conditions, the battery components tend to freeze. So much so that it is difficult to start the vehicle irrespective of its size. This is where cold cranking amps of a car battery come into the picture.

The cold cranking amp is measured based on the power output capacity of a battery in cold weather. The higher the cold cranking amps the better output you get from the battery.

The information on the cold cranking amp rating is clearly mentioned in the vehicle’s manual so glance through it for proper guidance before attempting to connect two batteries.

In the case of jumpstarting, an average cold cranking amp rating of a motorcycle is between 200-400amps compared to the range of 200-600 amps of a standard four-wheeler.

So, if the conditions are too cold, and the cold cranking amp rating of a motorcycle battery is below the required level of a car battery it is better to delay or avoid the jumpstarting process.

How to jumpstart a car with a motorcycle?

Once you are sure of having all the above factors in place it’s time to know how to actually jumpstart a car with a motorcycle. To do this, follow the below-given steps:

  • Bring the motorcycle close to the car for easy connection. Turn off both vehicles and keep them in neutral.
  • Turn off all the electrical components of both vehicles.
  • Make use of the jumper cables now. Ensure the cables are of good quality and are thick enough to hold and balance the current flow between the two vehicle batteries.
  • It is important to connect the cables to the proper terminals. Connect the positive cables (red) to the positive terminal and the negative cable (black) to the negative terminal. Leave the second negative cable grounded to the car chassis or any other metal part that is unpainted.
  • Start the motorcycle first and let it run for at least 10 minutes. A little revving of a motorcycle engine can produce a more robust current flow, quickening the process.
  • Attempt to start the car in small bursts. Don’t try to keep it cranking for a long time if the car doesn’t start in one go. Owing to the battery capacity of a motorcycle it may take a few minutes for a car to start.
  • Once the car is started disconnect the cables from the motorcycle first. This will avoid overheating of the motorcycle engine and also limit the transfer of current from its battery as the car battery becomes stronger with the charge.

Here is a small video on jumpstarting a 2200cc car with a 400cc bike successfully:

While the process is very similar to that of jumpstarting a car with another car the end result could differ. Along with all the resources and conditions, it also takes a little bit of luck to jumpstart a car with a motorcycle in some cases.

So, if the car doesn’t start even after multiple attempts of jumpstarting then it is better to take some professional help rather than damaging one of the vehicles.

Is a motorcycle battery the same as a car battery?

In some cases yes motorcycle battery has the same voltage capacity as a car battery. But, in reality, motorcycle batteries are technically not designed with the same power and functionality as a car battery.

It is therefore important to consider certain factors like the voltage capacity, amperage, engine power, etc. of a motorcycle before attempting jumpstarting process with a car.

Is it safe to jumpstart a car with a motorcycle?

Yes, it is safe to jumpstart a car with a motorcycle provided proper processes and precautions are followed.

It is important to select the right type of motorcycle. The two-wheeler should be in running condition with a bigger engine, the same voltage battery, and amperage capacity to match the requirements of a car.

If all the factors are in place you can successfully jumpstart a car with a motorcycle.

Is the grounding of jumper cables necessary while jumpstarting a car with a motorcycle?

Yes, one part of the jumper cables (negative ones in black) should be grounded on a car chassis or any other unpainted metal portion while jumpstarting.

Grounding of jumper cables is necessary to avoid any electrical hazards arising during the transmission of current flow between the two batteries. When the jumper cable is grounded it establishes a direct return path for a balanced current flow between the two batteries.

Related Read: Why do you have to ground jumper cables?

Grounding also ensures the separation of two clamps that avoids any sparks or damage to the vehicle components.

Can you jumpstart a car with an EV motorcycle battery?

Jumpstarting a car with an Electric motorcycle is possible but not recommended. Though, the voltage power of an electric motorcycle does favor the jumpstarting process EV motorcycle batteries are typically not designed to release the power output required to jumpstart a car.

The voltage and amperage difference are other drawbacks of an electronic motorcycle battery that may not be able to withstand the consumption power of a car battery.

It is therefore better to find a compatible vehicle for jumpstarting a car rather than using an electronic motorcycle.

Final thoughts

Jumpstarting is a common process invoked to jump a dead car battery. Under a normal jumpstarting process, another car is an ideal choice to deal with a dead battery.

If there is no other option but to take the help of a motorcycle you can do so provided the prerequisites and technical factors match between both vehicles.

With proper process and some luck you could jumpstart a car with a motorcycle however, don’t make it a habit as the difference between the two batteries makes this process a bit risky.

If you do find yourself in a situation of using a motorcycle to charge your car battery then follow the information and guidelines from this post for a successful jumpstart result.

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I am the founder of TheCarPlus. As a passionate car owner and enthusiast, I offer practical solutions and insights from my own personal experiences combined with extensive online research.

The purpose of creating this website is to empower fellow car owners and motorcyclists like 'YOU' with knowledge and practical solutions to enhance your vehicle's performance and aesthetics.

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