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Jump Starts

When I bought my 1996 Mazda Protege the dealer said I shouldn’t give other cars jump starts because it might “fry” the computer chip. It didn’t make sense to me that everyone could be driving around with the ability to receive but not give jumps so I gave jumps for 15 years and never had a problem. I recently bought a 2010 Toyota Prius and the dealer said the same thing – don’t give jump starts to other cars but it’s okay to receive them. I’m a little more nervous in a prius because they are different than other cars. Can I give jump starts other cars? What are the chances that my computers might get fried? My jumper cables are very old – does that make a difference?

It is a curious fact that car salesmen do not know very much about cars. They are good at making deals but are not very knowledgeable about mechanical stuff. Don’t take them seriously about anything.

The occasional damage that occurs to electronic components does so as a result of human error. Someone connects the cables the wrong way. Hence the warning, ma’am. He meant well.

Your owners manual should give you all the information you need about jump starts. If you don’t have the manual, ask the dealership to give you one. And old cables do not represent a hazard. They may not always work well, but they represent no particular risk to your electronics.

Your engine doesn’t run all the time so it may take longer to recharge your battery unless you are going on a highway trip. Alternator replacement can cost $400 or more on some cars. If that doesn’t stop you, don’t worry about your computer(s) either. Take the chances you can live with. Wear goggles in case the batttery blows its top.

Like SteveF said, you need to read the owners manual carefully to make sure you do it right with your Prius.

You can damage any vehicle if you try to jump start it using the wrong procedure. It’s actually a very simple procedure but if you get it wrong it will cost big bucks to repair the damage. Read the owners manual carefully.