Using a Bolt to jump start an ICE - Chevy Bolt EV Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-20-2019, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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Using a Bolt to jump start an ICE

So the other day I was leaving work and a guy with a massive Honda SUV asked me if I could give him a jump. His battery was dead...stone cold dead, not even the click of the starter or a faint glow of the lights. I told him sure but that I knew my battery was tiny in comparison to his and being so dead i didn't think my tiny battery would do anything; but we tried. We popped the hoods and sure enough his battery was 4 times the size of the Bolts...but we hooked up the jumper cables, I kept the car on and INSTANTLY he was able to crank his over and start it. I've always found the small batteries to be ineffective in jumping larger batteries. I can't believe the tiny 12 volt battery in the Bolt was the source of the amps to start his massive SUV.

So the question is did the Bolt pass current from the main fuel cells or only the small 12 volt?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-20-2019, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Mhoffa View Post
So the question is did the Bolt pass current from the main fuel cells or only the small 12 volt?
It doesn't take much to start a car, especially when it isn't freezing out (but it takes much more if it's a high compression/diesel).

I too have used the car to jump another, no issues.

The 12v circuit is always getting juiced from the inverter which in turn is powered by the high voltage cells, it will throw more amps when it sees high demand.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-20-2019, 05:43 PM
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found this from @drdiesel1 https://www.chevybolt.org/forum/223762-post18.html

520 cold cranking amps. DC-DC converter is what 1600W? Good for another 100 amps I would think.

The fact it worked is a good data point.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-21-2019, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Mhoffa View Post
So the other day I was leaving work and a guy with a massive Honda SUV asked me if I could give him a jump. ... I can't believe the tiny 12 volt battery in the Bolt was the source of the amps to start his massive SUV.

So the question is did the Bolt pass current from the main fuel cells or only the small 12 volt?
The Bolt doesn't have "fuel cells" but I get what you're asking. The answer is "yes". If the car is on it comes from both.

Before I had a Bolt I had a Prius C which has a very similar electrical system - a tiny AGM battery to power things when the car is turned off, supplemented by an inverter that provides 12V power when the car is turned on. I've successfully jump-started a stranded motorist - the important bit IMHO is to make sure the car is turned on so that the inverter can share the load with the 12V battery. That last thing you want is to have the ICE starter motor drain your 12V battery, damaging it and leaving you incapable of starting your own car.

Nowadays I carry a Li-Ion 12V booster pack in case my 12V battery gives me problems, so if I came across a stranded motorist that's the first thing I'd probably try.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-21-2019, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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It doesn't take much to start a car, especially when it isn't freezing out (but it takes much more if it's a high compression/diesel).

I too have used the car to jump another, no issues.

The 12v circuit is always getting juiced from the inverter which in turn is powered by the high voltage cells, it will throw more amps when it sees high demand.
So would the Bolt even need to be on? Out of habit (from jump starting ICE to ICE) I had the car on but I wondered later if it even needed to be.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-21-2019, 03:25 PM
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So would the Bolt even need to be on? Out of habit (from jump starting ICE to ICE) I had the car on but I wondered later if it even needed to be.
Well, I would think if you think the Bolt 12v has enough to get the job done without using the big battery as an assist than you could leave the Bolt off. However, why not turn the Bolt on so that it can assist by leveraging the big battery into the mission? I am under the assumption that you don't get the inverter to assist unless the Bolt is on? I understand that every X number of hours the car checks on the 12v battery, but that's not directly pertinent in this if my understanding is correct.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-21-2019, 06:50 PM
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I know this likely makes me a horrible person, but I stopped using cars I own to jump other vehicles when the lithium jump packs became cheap.

I know jump starting another vehicle is pretty risk free. However the packs are cheap, easy to replace, easy to use, easy to dispose of (Lowes and Home Depot accept them for recycling), and don't involve mating my electronics to a modified bro dozer with who knows what has been done to the 12v rail. Or a diesel Land Rover owner asking me to jump their car with my Gen 1 Volt. Nope. Used the lithium pack.

Bonus, you have an emergency jumper for your OWN car.

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Happily driving The Gonk 70 (Shock Yellow 2019 Bolt)

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-21-2019, 06:56 PM
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Yep, my go-to is a lithium ion jump pack. If that fails, I'm happy to lend a jump any way I can. One time a neighbor asked for a jump, and i happened to be tinkering with a supercap pack. I held the leads of my supercap pack on his battery terminals while he started the car. Whatever's handy.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-21-2019, 08:05 PM
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So would the Bolt even need to be on? Out of habit (from jump starting ICE to ICE) I had the car on but I wondered later if it even needed to be.
Hmm. not sure, with the Gen-1 Volts in our fleet, the 12V system goes dead if the car sits, so the inverter is probably off. I would assume the Bolt is better programmed to maintain the 12V battery.

Just to be safe, leave it ON when you jump.

And what others said, If you can afford the $50-200 on a lithium jump pack, they are sweet, my fleet uses Rockford jump packs and will jump Dodge 5500's with 6.7L Cummins engines!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue Wyvern View Post
It doesn't take much to start a car, especially when it isn't freezing out (but it takes much more if it's a high compression/diesel).

I too have used the car to jump another, no issues.

The 12v circuit is always getting juiced from the inverter which in turn is powered by the high voltage cells, it will throw more amps when it sees high demand.

The DC-DC can source up to ~125A (1600W) when the aux battery drops below a certain threshold, but the AGM can source waaaaay more than that for a few seconds, with a decent set of jumper cables.

Driving electric since 1997!
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