Easy Step by Step Guide to Jump Start a Motorcycle with a Car

Nobody wants to hear the dreaded weak ”click click” or slow turning of the starter of their motorcycle when pushing the ignition switch.

Anyways, you might have jumper cables and a car on hand, but you aren’t sure how to jump-start your motorcycle with a car?

Don’t worry. I got you.

But first, here are some essential precautions to be aware of before we start the process.

Is It Ok to Jump Start a Motorcycle with a Car?

Is jump starting a motorcycle with a car safe?

Yes, jump starting a motorcycle with a car is safe. But some precautions need to be taken into account during the jumping process. These include both vehicle battery voltage compatibility, properly handling the jumpers cables, and leaving the car turned off.

There are many rumors and misinformation that jump starting your motorcycle with a car is a bad idea and will damage your bike.

That is true when the process is not done correctly.

But Jump starting your motorcycle with a car is perfectly fine when done right.

To safely jump start your motorcycle with a car, here are the rules.

  • Both vehicle batteries need to be of the same voltage. Usually 12 Volts.
  • Be careful when handling the jumper cable clamps. The clamp should not touch something it should not.
  • When jumping a motorcycle with a car, the car should not be running and be turned off.

The voltage of The Batteries

Most motorcycles and cars use 12-volt batteries, and this is exactly what you want.

Both vehicle batteries need to be of the same voltage.

Otherwise, you risk electrical damages both to your bike and car.

Be aware that larger vehicles such as large pick-up, work trucks or semi-trucks are frequently equipped with 24-volt batteries.

You don’t want any of those for your motorcycle.

Car Jumper Cables Size and Improper Touching

Batteries compartments for motorcycles are small and cramped.

You might have trouble fitting larges and bulky jumper cable clamps in your bike and attach them to the battery’s terminal without the clamps touching something else.

Ever played the ”Operation board game”? Remember that?

In the game, you had to get the organs out of the cardboard patient with small tweezers without touching the sidewall, or a red light and alarm come on, and you lose points.

Same principle here with the jumper cable clamps. Don’t touch the sidewall and take your time.

It is easy to make a wrong move in this tiny space and contact with something like the metal casing of the battery.

If the clamps are in contact with something it should not, it might damage your bike and create sparks that could cause a fire situation near a battery.

The Car Should Not Be Running and Be Turned Off

When jumping a car with another car, it often requires that the healthy car be running to give extra power to the dead car to bring it back to life.

Do not do this with a motorcycle.

The giving car should be turned off completely with no key in the ignition for the whole operation.

The reason why is that motorcycle batteries are much smaller than cars batteries.

Car batteries are bigger and powerful enough at ”rest” to jump a smaller motorcycle battery with no problem.

That extra electrical power kick of having the car running might be too much to take for your bike and damage the electrical system.

So the car needs to be turned off.

Quick reminder

  • Both batteries need to be of the same voltage
  • No touchy in the wrong places
  • Car turned off.

How to Jump Start A Motorcycle with A Car

Jump start motorcycle with car

1. Make sure both vehicles are turned off, and your bike is in neutral with the motorcycle kill switch to the ”run / on” position.

2. Remove any battery cover or pannels to expose the two batteries and take out of the way any protective rubber on all four batteries’ terminals.

Jump start motorcycle with car

3. Attach one end of the positive cable + to the dead battery positive + terminal of the motorcycle; do not let it touch any other metal part.

Jump start motorcycle with car

4. Connect the other red positive + clamp to the positive terminal on the car’s battery.

Jump start motorcycle with car

5. Take the black cable negative – clamp and connect it to the negative terminal of the car battery

Jump start motorcycle with car

6. Go back to the motorcycle this step is a bit tricky.

Take the remaining black negative – clamp, and attach it to something made of metal on the motorcycle with no paint or coating. Internal frame and screw nuts are great options.

Jump start motorcycle with car

When you connect the last clamp, some sparking might happen, and it is normal.

But be wary and careful.

Sparks Near a Battery Might Cause It to Ignite in Flames.

When you link a weak or dead battery with jumper cables, it will release a flammable gas (Hydrogen). So the farther away from the battery the negative clamp is attached when it will ”spark”, the better.

If your cable can reach that far, your best option is to attach the clamp to your brake’s disk.

If nothing bare metal is available or suitable, connect the clamp to the bike’s negative terminal as a last resort.

7. Get the key into your motorcycle ignition and turn it to the ”ON” position.

Jump start motorcycle with car

8. Press the ignition switch, and your motorcycle should start.

What now?

Leave the bike running for now.

Meanwhile, remove the jumper cables in the reverse order you attached them, and replace the protective rubbers over the terminals.

9. Remove the negative – clamp on the motorcycle.

10. Remove the negative – clamp on the car.

11. Remove the positive + clamp on the car.

12. Remove the positive + clamp on the motorcycle.

Side note

If your bike turns off on its own when you remove the jumper cables, start over from step one and once the bike runs again, wait 5 minutes before removing anything.

If it still turns off when you remove a cable connection, your battery is entirely dead, dead, dead.

You will need to get a new battery installed on the bike.

So Your Motorcycle Is Running Now. What Next?

An excellent first step is to leave the bike parked and let it run for a couple of minutes. It gives time for your alternator to refill your battery with a minimal charge.

A perfect opportunity to make your time productive while waiting is to continue to read this post. 🙂

Because sorry for the bad news, but you might not be done with your battery problem, even with a running bike.

Motorcycles batteries do not take kindly to be low on power.

Going below 50% of its charge capacity hurt a battery’s ”health”.

A battery that was low on charge might have a decreased ability to recharge appropriately and won’t hold a charge for long.

It is possible that your battery needs to be replaced by a new one even if the bike is running fine right beside you.

In short, you might still have a dead motorcycle in a couple of hours after you turn off the engine.

So here is what to do about it.

First Option

If you have a Multimeter / Voltmeter to test a battery and you know how to use it, do it to know if your battery is still in good health or not.

I have a complete tutorial on how to use a multimeter to check the health and voltage of your motorcycle battery ready for you by clicking here

Remember to ride around your motorcycle for at least 30 minutes to build up a charge to get a more accurate reading.

The higher the RPM, the better, so riding down the highway, for example, is a great idea.

Refer to option two if you don’t have a voltmeter or don’t know how to use it.

Option Two

Ride your motorcycle to your preferred motorcycle shop.

Riding the bike there will help recharge the battery.

If there is no bike shop nearby, a car dealer or garage will do for now.

You want to get access to a voltmeter, and any garage should have one.

Park your bike near the shop and expose your bike battery for easy access by removing the seat or whatever is hiding the battery in your motorcycle.

It will make it as easy as possible for the mechanic.

For someone in this profession with an already exposed battery, It should be free of charge for such a quick and easy thing to do.

Go inside and ask politely if someone could get you out of trouble and take a minute to test your bike battery with a voltmeter.

If you rode your motorcycle for at least 30 to 45 minutes and the battery read below 12 Volts, it is time to get a new one.

If you can, please buy a Soda or coffee for this kind mechanic as a thank you for his time. 🙂

Final Advice

Hopefully, your bike started, and your battery is still in decent health.

Yet, it would be best if you tried to find what got your motorcycle battery to be low on power in the first place.

  • If your battery is 5 years older or more, it is normal that it is not charging or holding a charge very well.
  • Did you recently install something electrical on your bike like a phone charger? It might drain your battery when the bike is not running.
  • Did you forget your key in the ignition with the lights on?

Whatever the case, I hope you were able to get back on the road.

Also, consider buying a battery jump starter, also called a battery jump box before the next time your bike is out of juice.

They look something like this.

Jump start motorcycle with car

It is a portable power pack that stores electrical power and the one in the picture is my personal unit.

It can be discharged on demand at a high voltage to jump-start a vehicle with a dead battery.

I never needed it for myself yet, but it allowed me to get some bikers and a car driver back on track.

Bonus; it can also act as a flashlight and can also recharge small electronics like your cellphone. And I do abuse the latter while on the road.

Do consider getting one. It is a handy item to have in a bad situation.

Ride safe. 🙂