Have you ever run out the door on your way to work one morning and found that your car’s engine won’t turn over? If you were lucky, you had a portable car battery jumper, or you neighbor happened to pass by with his car and a pair of jumper cables.
Sure, your car is running now, but can you jump a car battery more than once, and how many times can you jump a car battery? This answer is not as simple as you might think. It depends a great deal on why the car battery is dead or drained in the first place.
Let’s talk about why you are jump starting your car and how many times you can do this safely and without damaging your car.
Jump Starting a Drained Battery: “Oops, I left the headlights on all night”
So, for this first scenario, you have left your headlights on all night and have managed to drain the charge in the battery. You have now jump started your car, and presto, it works just fine. If this is the case, you can jump start your car quite a few times because normally, the car battery will be charged by the alternator while it runs, and by the time you are done driving, the battery should be charged, and will hold this charge until the next time you turn it on.
This is perfectly fine as long as you don’t repeat this cycle day after day. For instance, if you do this once every few months, it should be fine. However, if you do it day after day, your alternator won’t be able to charge the battery as well, and this will damage it. This also has the potential to damage the alternator, which can then damage electrical components in your vehicle. At the same time, jump starting a car way too often runs the risk of reversing the polarity of the battery, and this can cause total failure.
Jump Starting an Old or Damaged Battery
Now, there is a difference between an old battery that can barely be charged or hold a charge, and a battery that has been drained due to an error such as leaving the headlights on. If you have a really old car battery, older than 4 or 5 years, chances are that it is just way too old, dead, and won’t charge right anymore, not to mention that it cannot hold a charge either.
In this case, you won’t be able to jump start it too many times, more than 3 or 4 times, without causing major damage to the battery, the alternator, and other electrical components in the vehicle.
If your car battery won’t function, but you haven’t left the headlights on all night, then jump starting it is only a temporary fix until the next time the car needs to be turned on. Jump starting your car too many times is not going to be good for anybody or anything. Once again, you will end up damaging the alternator of your vehicle due to too many jump starts, which can then irreversibly damage the electrical components in your car.
A Side Note
Now, what you need to know is that it is not as much the jump start itself that will damage the car and the alternator, as it is letting the battery run down and drain too many times. If you keep leaving the headlights on all night, or if the battery just does not charge right anymore, you have got quite a problem.
Car batteries are not designed for deep cycling; in other words, they are not made to be fully charged and fully drained time after time. This will also cause damage to your alternator. The bottom line is that if you keep having to jump start your car without a visible cause, such as leaving the headlights on, you might have a damaged alternator, a damaged battery, or just a really old battery that cannot hold a charge anymore.
As you can see, how many times you can safely jump start a car without causing damage more or less depends on the reason you have to jump start it in the first place.