Automotive Education/Info Tool Review

Is There a Way to Charge Your EV on the Side of the Road?

Do You Need a Special “Jump Starter” if Your EV Battery Dies?

It’s pretty common knowledge in 2024 that Governments all over the world are pushing for EV’s to be basically mandatory in every town, city and State by way of Federal Regulation. With that being a pretty solidified fact in 2023 and going into 2024, it ’s crucial for less mechanically inclined persons to start asking questions about how EV’s are different from regular cars and trucks with internal combustion engines.

In this post, we’re going to try to answer one question that I’ve seen bouncing all over the forums. Quora, Reddit, and all of the major automotive forums.

Do I need a special jump starter if the battery dies in my EV and leaves me stranded on the side of the road? Am I going to have to call a tow truck and pay a service fee I can’t afford?

Will something like a high-powered JNC 1224 jump starter work to get a fully electric lithium battery enough juice to start the electric motor and get the EV to the next charging station? If not, what options do I have if I overestimate the range of my battery electric vehicle?

The Answer is Yes, But the Answer is Also No.

The thing you have to consider when asking if a battery jump starter will work to boost a dead battery in a fully electric vehicle is which battery is dead? Electric vehicles are unique in that although they have very large capacity high voltage lithium-ion batteries to power the motor and power train, they still use an old fashion 12V battery. If you’re wondering why an electric vehicle has a regular 12 Volt battery, I’ll explain further. 

In a fully-electric vehicle, the 12V or “low voltage” battery is used for things like starting the main battery, controlling the accessories, onboard diagnostics and in some cases the 12V battery is used to keep the cars electrical systems running smoothly with a steady supply of voltage.

It’s likely that you’re going to have at least some sort of inclination if it’s the 12V battery that’s dead or getting weak versus the EV’s main high-voltage battery. This will be based on the symptoms, when and where the electrical issues are causing a problem and what systems not working correctly in your EV. We will go over some things like how to know if the battery is dead and how to fix it a little bit in the following sections.

If you own an electric vehicle, I would highly recommend carrying a portable 120 Volt Level 1-2 charger like the ShockFlo or something similar. If you get stuck on the road somewhere with a low battery, it’s going to be a lot easier to find a standard 110 outlet to charge your EV enough to make it to the next charge point. Check it out below.

First Find Out if the 12V (Low Volt) Battery is Dead or Weak

If you’re a new owner of an electric vehicle, you might not know what the symptoms of a failing 12V battery in your EV are going to be. It’s entirely possible that you didn’t even know it had a regular 12V battery until you read this post.

I’m not saying I’m a genius and know everything about low voltage EV batteries. I had to learn about why electric vehicles had 12V batteries and things like where they’re located just like you probably will. The key is going to be doing your research and taking extra precautions when working on a fully electric car or truck versus a traditional legacy auto.

How Will You Know the 12V Battery is Dead?

It’s probably going to blow your mind how simple it really is to figure it out that that the 12V battery in your EV is either dead, dying or close to the end of its life-span. How you will know when the 12V battery is weak or dead is the same way you would know in a traditional ICE-powered automobile.

Thing like the power locks not working or not working all of the time, your EV having trouble starting, lights on the interior or exterior starting to dim or not working altogether, power windows rolling down slower than usual.

Any of the symptoms your previous ICE-powered car or truck showed when the battery was weak or dead will be evident on a fully electric vehicle because the 12V battery runs all of those same systems.

If You Suspect the 12V Battery is Dead

If you have checked the 12V accessories in your electric vehicle and you have a suspicion the battery might be the issue, you will need to do some further testing to be sure that you’re not wasting a few hundred bucks on a good 12V battery.

Testing a 12 Volt battery on a fully electric vehicle is essentially the same as testing on a traditional ICE powered machine, just with some added safety concern due to the extreme high voltage and volatility of the lithium-ion battery that powers the engine and drivetrain.

Protect Yourself When Working on High Voltage EV’s

Don’t be a hero (or a fool) and work on a machine that has the ability to produce 400 Volts, 800 Volts or more without wearing proper safety equipment. Even if you’re only working on the 12V battery, you could be at risk of a shock, burn or explosion.

High Voltage rated gloves for working on EV batteries can be purchased on Amazon for under $30. If you own an EV, you should own these anyways so before you do any testing or replacing the battery, get yourself a pair.

Once you have your insulated electrical gloves, get at least a cheap pair of safety glasses. Just something to protect your eyes in the event that there was an arc or acid spill. Anything of that nature.

Find the Location of the 12V or Low Voltage Battery

Fully protected and safe, now you can head to the location of the 12V battery in your EV. All makes and models will store the low voltage battery in a different place, but usually the Owners Manual will be the first place to check.

If the location of the 12V battery in your electric vehicle isn’t in the Owners Manual, a quick search along the lines of “where can I find the low voltage battery in my (enter model) EV” or replace the low voltage with 12V and repeat the search query.

Once you know where the battery is in your particular EV, you can test the voltage using several different tools that don’t cost much.

A Basic Multimeter-

Testing the voltage of a battery with a digital multimeter like the Innova 3320 is extremely easy and it’s my favorite way to quickly get an accurate measurement of how many volts a battery is holding.

If you need to see it done in person, you can watch the YouTube Video “Innova Multimeter 3320 how to test your car 12V”

A 12V battery tester

If your plan to check the status of the 12V battery is going to be as effortless as possible, something like the TopDon BT100 Automotive Battery Tester better be in the equation.

For like Sixty bucks on Amazon (and some are cheaper), it will tell you if the 12V battery in your car or truck is healthy or should be replaced. Instead of just giving a voltage reading, it will tell you how the battery would hold up under a load.

A Probe Style Electrical Tester or Lab Scope- 

The TopDiag P200 is admittedly overkill just to have the ability to check if a 12V battery is in good working condition or not, but I needed an electrical related post to show this probe tester off a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong, you can check the battery with it. You can load test and test the cranking amps on a 12 and 24V battery with the TopDiag P200. I’m just saying you wouldn’t HAVE to use it to check the status of a 12V battery. There are much cheaper options for the simple tasks. But don’t give up the opportunity to at least go look at it.

If You’d Rather Someone Else Finds the Problem For You

There is a handful of resources on the internet to help you find a technician trained specifically and extensively with Battery Electric Vehicles. If you are not looking to do the actual job of finding out which battery is bad in your EV, replacing it or any of the other dirty work that comes with automotive repair and maintenance- here are some of the resources.

Also, there are now tons of resources on the internet dedicated to bringing BEV owners and the service and maintenance of their battery-electric cars and sticks together.

What to do If the 12V Battery Dies in Your EV?

If you are lucky enough to get the diagnosis of a dead 12V battery in your EV, jump starting it will be pretty simple as long as you can see colors clearly and know how to use any old jump starter or 12 Volt battery charger. Including, but not limited to our favorites, the NoCo BoostGB40 12V battery booster and the JNC 325  – whichever you prefer for lead acid batteries.

If you aren’t sure how to charge or boost a 12V battery, you can find safe procedures all over the internet. It’s also very likely that one of your friends or family members will know how to use a jump starter or booster cables. In all reality, jumper cables are the tried and true way to jump start car and truck batteries.

If you would rather have portability, the NoCo Boost line of jump starters is an excellent choice in terms of the price, quality and Peak Amps of the Boost GB40. If you are looking for an even larger jump starter, the Boost line goes up to a GB251 which is a 12/24V 3000 Peak Amp portable jump starter. Oh yeah and it only weighs twenty pounds. For comparison sake, the JNC 1224 puts out 3400 Peak Amps and weighs FORTY pounds.

It’s Not the 12 Volt Battery, What Should You Do?

If the Low Voltage battery in your electric vehicle turns out to be good, you will be forced to start diagnosing the high-voltage battery system in your EV. Full disclosure, servicing and troubleshooting a high-voltage battery system should not be attempted by your neighbor that changes oil and brakes in the driveway. Or the guy on Marketplace offering 1/2 price on all auto repair labor. There’s a 99% chance it shouldn’t even be YOU. And I say that with no ill intent. It’s just most of us aren’t trained on the type of high-voltage electrical batteries that the manufacturers are using now.

All of the above rambling is assuming of course the reason isn’t the most likely reason your EV battery died in the first place. Because you tried to drive the car past zero percent battery on the gauge. You were trying to drive on magical battery vapors that don’t exist. It could have either been intentional or non-intentional and just careless. But it’s probably the most likely scenario as to why you’re on the roadside with a dead EV battery.

Either way it happened and now you need a solution. You need to know if there’s a giant jump starter out there made specifically to carry in the trunk of your EV for just this scenario. A battery booster pack with enough power to start a vehicle that runs on potentially as many as 800 Volts.

Every electric vehicle on the market has at least the equivalent of a Gas Gauge in an ICE powered vehicle. Many of them have even more advanced measures to prevent the battery from dying on the side of the road.

From Consumer Reports-

That said, an EV won’t just stop without advanced warning. Drivers get plenty of heads-up when the battery runs low, and if it’s low enough, the car will reduce propulsion power. Some EVs will even have the navigation system display the closest public chargers and guide you there.


Battery electric vehicle systems require a special style of tools that trained professional EV Auto Repair Technicians use in order to safely service and repair what’s essentially a highly electrolyzed, potentially explosive lithium battery on wheels. You can buy the tools (and you probably should), at least the basics on Amazon or somewhere else if you can find them for less money.

It’s inevitable that you will have to work on some part of your electric vehicle down the road. If you’re not comfortable, and I mean ready to fry your nuts like bacon comfortable, hire a professional to at least do any of the electrical diagnostics.

What if the Lithium EV Battery Dies in Your Vehicle?

In a case of the high-voltage Lithium EV Battery, it’s not as simple as just hooking up to the terminals of the 12V battery. That does not mean though that you can not boost a lithium electric vehicle battery and get your car running in a pinch or on the side of the road. Obviously like anything else with a market, there are products for that.

The potential problem is that the products on the market for emergency Electric Vehicle charging are not exactly portable-or affordable for the average consumer. In all but the most extreme cases, portable EV chargers for roadside assistance are used in commercial applications.

One of the portable options I have written about before still requires at least a 120V outlet to charge an EV battery. It’s called the ShockFlo portable Level 1-2 EV Charger and you can see it below. It’s affordable, but you will still need to find an outlet to use it.

ShockFlo level 1-2 portable ev charger for 120v 16 amp charging
Click the image for more info on the ShockFlo Level 1-2 120V 16 Amp Portable EV Charger.

You may have seen the episode of CNBC’s Shark Tank that featured the SparkCharge “Roadie Portable” fast charging roadside solution for EV batteries back around 2020. The Roadie Portable was essentially the first high speed “jump starter” for rescuing battery electric vehicles that had run out of charge on the road.

The company behind the compact, portable emergency EV power solution- SparkCharge- is still going strong. In fact, last year they released the Roadie V3. A new 75 kWh version of its powerful charging solution for electrical vehicles. It isn’t only SparkCharge that has been innovating in portable high-voltage lithium ion rapid battery charging solutions.

Other companies like Setec Power are now offering infrastructure-free portable EV fast charging solutions for roadside assistance and emergency situations also. Though not exactly feasible to call this a traditional “jump starter”, it is essentially a battery booster for electric vehicles that is being deployed in tow vehicles and other roadside services rapidly around the world.

Conclusion- Don’t Let the EV Battery Die Before Finding a Charger

What this all boils down to is that you should not let the Lithium battery in your electric vehicle die before finding a high-speed or at least a portable EV charger you can use. It’s going to be a major headache and although range issues in electric vehicles are still very real in some parts of the world, most of the time there should be no reason to completely drain the battery in your EV. Running out of battery is not the same as running out of gas in a legacy ICE vehicle.

Five dollars and a gas can is not going to be how you start an EV with a dead lithium battery, that much I promise you. Instead, it’s likely to cost you hundreds of dollars in roadside assistance bills. That is unless you have some protection, like say a AAA membership.


By John Green

I’m John Green. I’m a 33 year old auto technician from Upstate New York. I have 18 years of experience as an automotive light duty and heavy duty truck mechanic. Cars, trucks and anything with moving parts are my passion in my professional life.

Aside from my life as a technician, I am also a seasoned investor and consider myself very financially literate. I use this other passion combined with my passion for cars, trucks and tools to look for ways to save money for my technician friends.

Raising my three girls and teaching them the proper way of life is my personal passion in life. If you want to know more, just ask! I’m on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well!