Does jump starting a car damage the computer? Jump starting

Does jump starting a car damage the computer? A dead car battery can be very frustrating to any motorist. Not only are they inconvenient, but they also come with the cost of replacing the battery. While any unforeseen cost is undesirable, the cost of jump starting your car could involve much more than just a battery replacement.

Most cars manufactured after 2000 use many computers and computer functions that have developed and become more advanced as time has progressed. These machines control various common functions in the vehicle ranging from the dial cluster to the radio.

In this article, we will explain what happens when you jump start your car and the effect it can have on the electronic and computer components in the car. Let’s jump into it and take a look.

What Is A Car Computer?

With no technical jargon, a car computer is a computer that functions in a car, claiming a responsive size, power consumption, and other components that can find a place in a vehicle.

Does jump starting a car damage the computer

Every modern car developed now contains one or more computers and one of them ensures engine emission and engine capacity can be monitored at all times.

A car computer as it may sound isn’t a lone wolf nor is it the only ant that feeds on the ice cubes, a car computer works hand in hand with other components of the car and receive information from verities of sensors in other to display the required information, out of the many sensors are the Oxygen sensors, The Knock Sensor, The engine Temperature Sensors and many others.

With every sensor feeding the car computer with information, the car computer can control vital aspects of a car like the fuelling injector, speed, and spark plugs, among others.

The Risks of Jump Starting

Technological improvements in manufacturing and the growing shift from gas to electric engines have seen computers become a major element in car building.

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Computers in your vehicle are responsible for functions as simple as opening your windows to something life-saving, like controlling the brakes in your car. These computers are controlled by one or many electronic control units (ECUs), which act as the brain for these computers.

Like the body, any sudden shock will cause your brain to react negatively. For example, if you’ve seen someone being tazed before, you would notice that the shock causes the brain to malfunction, affecting everything it controls. That’s when you notice the person shaking uncontrollably, or worse.

This is pretty much the same logic when jump starting a car. The ECUs work steadily, using a specific amount of power which it can rely on your alternator to supply to operate all the computers and other electronic devices in the car.

When you jump start, you are zapping power out suddenly, which can cause the ECU to go into shock and malfunction. A malfunctioning ECU can affect one or more critical computer connections.

In addition, once the other vehicle starts up while still connected to the jump cables, this will cause the moving power in the cable to flow back to your vehicle, which can cause an overflow, commonly known as a surge. Surges are very dangerous as they can cause an ECU to explode if it is unable to dump the surplus power effectively.

Important Points to Remember When Jump Starting

  • Batteries that have physical damage or are giving off a rotten smell are not safe to jump start as they are likely severely defective or completely dead. Never jump start a damaged battery!
  • Check your vehicle owner’s manual for instructions for jump starting your vehicle.
  • Always use high-quality jump cables that have built-in spike protection.
  • Ensure the leads are connected in the correct sequence and to the correct poles. Positive poles first, then negatives!
  • It’s safer to have both vehicles switched off and the keys removed from the ignition when connecting the jumper cables. Any potential surge can corrupt the coding between the key and ECU.
  • Check that all electronic components are switched off, including lights, air-conditioning, and the radio.

Does Jump Starting a Car Damage The Computer?

Does jump starting a car damage the computer

The short answer is no! Several factors influence to what level the computers and ECU may be affected, including:

  • The degree of surge protection that’s built into your vehicle.
  • The condition of the existing surge protection mechanisms.
  • The level of voltage being transferred between the vehicles through the cable.
  • Provided the surge does not exceed your systems capabilities and you follow the safety pointers mentioned above, your computers and ECU should come through the jump start unscathed.
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Why You Should Avoid Jumpstarting A Modern Car?

Like most electronics, a power surge can cause damage to the electronic systems of a modern car. A seemingly well-meaning jumpstart can cause said power surge and impact the effectiveness of onboard computers, safety systems, damage the engine and be the result of expensive repairs.

Over the years, the trusted battery specialists have assessed many vehicles brought in by customers who have attempted to jumpstart them. Damages have included:

Blown engine control unit (ECU)

A blown ECU can occur if there is a voltage spike when jumpstarting. This impacts the alternator and other electrical components such as the fuel pump, onboard computer and possibly the fuses.

Compromised traction control systems

When jumpstarting a car equipped with traction control, it’s important to follow the manufacturer instructions. If these protocols aren’t followed, the cars’ traction control may be compromised, resulting in unstable road grip, which could endanger the driver and other motorists.

Power steering damage

If manufacturer instructions aren’t followed, the power steering system can be impacted, resulting in a stiff steering experience, making steering your car tougher than usual. This can be dangerous.

Airbag system flaws

After jumpstarting a modern car, the airbag system may become inconsistent, which could result in airbags not deploying due to an electric fault. The consequences can be catastrophic.

Inconsistency with Start/Stop systems

Most modern cars are equipped with Start/Stop technology. An incorrect jumpstart may disable the Start/Stop system and may require you to take your car to a dealership for further assessment. Jumpstarting a car equipped with Start/Stop technology is not advisable as the battery used is specialised to that car.

Damage to the boosting car

Sometimes, a modern car is used to jumpstart an older car, this may cause a power surge to the newer car, resulting in damage to the expensive electronic systems.

What Other Things Can Damage Car Computers?

The ECU controls the engine; it is the inbuilt computer of your vehicle that controls many functions of your car’s engine, the braking system, the fuel injection, the crankshaft positioning sensor, etc, that is why it is very important to know what will damage your car computer.

Does jump starting a car damage the computer

Find out the other ways your car’s computer can be damaged.


A covering is used to seal the car computer from any form of exposure that may cause it harm. This seal might be strong, but with time it can fade gradually, allowing moisture to have a way into the car’s computer, which in no time will cause the car’s computer to malfunction as time passes.

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Unequal Voltage

Voltage can also be a problem that causes your car’s computer to malfunction. A car computer will require at least 9 volts with an extension to at most 12 volts.

A car’s computer will require an equal amount of voltage coming in, excess voltage or shortage of voltage will in no time damage the car’s computer and cause it to malfunction.


Even a high temperature can cause the human skin to melt; the same applies to how effective a temperature can be on the wires of a car’s computer. It will cause it to melt, which causes the car’s computer to malfunction.


When you jumpstart or have a faulty alternator because of a short circuit, it can cause a car’s computer to go haywire. Because of excessive voltage, a short circuit can happen, which causes the wiring and every electrical component of the vehicle to be in danger.

How Much To Fix A Car Computer?

You can’t by any chance repair your car computer with your basic knowledge of electronics because car computers are inbuilt and this will be a demanding job for even the technicians.

I would have loved it if the car’s computer is easy to replace without breaking some cash. Just as you know how important it is to fix your car’s computer, a replacement would cost about $900 to $1300, which solely depends on the model, makings, the technicians, and where you intend to do the fixing.


Is it ok to jump-start modern cars?

Jumpstarting modern cars is risky as there are often several ECUs running and controlling the various electrical systems. Jump starts can cause power surges that may cause damage to electrical components and these issues may not always be obvious straight away.

The best way to avoid damage while jump-starting is to use high-quality jump cables and to follow the exact jump-start instructions in your owner’s manual.

Why you should not jump-start a car?

The main reason not to jump-start a car is the risk of explosion. When performed incorrectly, sparks may cause the battery to explode, especially if there are hydrogen gasses leaking from the negative terminal.

What to do after jump-starting a car?

After you have jumpstarted your car, you will need to keep the engine running. The best thing to do is drive your car for at least 30 minutes to charge up the battery. If you stop driving too soon, the battery may not have had time to charge and you will just need another jump-start the next time your try to start the car.

Above is information about Does jump starting a car damage the computer? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of The risks of jump starting. Thank you for reading our post.

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