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Can You Jump Start A Jet Ski? I’ve Got Better Options!

Yes, you can use your truck to jump start your jet ski’s battery, but it’s not recommended due to the following risks:

  1. Damaging your jet ski’s battery.
  2. Damaging your car’s battery.
  3. Potentially harming your jet ski’s electronics.
  4. Potentially harming your car’s electronics.
  5. Personal safety risks.
  6. The battery can explode!

While it might sound extreme, I’ve seen these problems occur when people try to jump start their PWCs from their trucks. It’s safer to charge your battery instead of attempting a jump start.

The Biggest Reason Why It’s Bad

Sea-Doo GTI battery location next to fuses

The main issue when jump-starting with a truck is that people often do it while the truck’s engine is running.

When the engine runs, the alternator generates a significant amount of power, often too much for the watercraft to handle.

Connecting your dead jet ski battery to a charged truck battery causes the truck’s computer to detect a load and increase the alternator’s power output.

If the battery has been inactive for a while, it may be sulfated, making this situation even riskier.

There are 3 problems that are now created:

  1. The car engine is now trying to charge the smaller battery and smaller electrical system.
  2. If you get the watercraft started, you now have to remove the connection and such a vast difference in charge can create a voltage spike from the alternator which will fry electronics.
  3. The dead battery can explode.

Your car’s electrical system is much bigger than a PWC’s and can’t handle the power from some vehicles, especially large trucks. It’s surprising how many people try jump-starting their tiny PWCs with big trucks.

Voltage Spike!

The biggest problem is the voltage spike from the alternator.

When you disconnect a weak battery, the running alternator has a sudden load loss, causing a voltage spike seeking a path, possibly harming you or your truck’s electronics.

Some call it “the alternators working against each other,” but it’s the same issue. Your PWC’s electronics can’t absorb spikes as well as your truck and may get damaged. This is even a concern with modern cars, as many manufacturers warn against jump-starting.

Exploding Batteries

It’s surprising, but lead-acid batteries can also explode when they become too sulfated.

Batteries sulfate when left unused for months, which is common for watercraft batteries.

A surge of power under the right conditions can cause a battery to explode. All lead-acid batteries have a warning about this potential explosion.

Engine Off…

If the issue arises from the truck engine running, can you jump start a PWC from a truck that’s turned off?

Yes, you can jump start from a car with the engine off, but it’s better to disconnect the car battery entirely.

We still face the voltage spike problem, but now it can come from the watercraft’s stator, as it lacks an alternator. Stators and alternators are similar, but the issue is smaller with a stator because it generates less power. However, the problem still exists.

The best way to jump start a battery is to use another battery not connected to any other equipment. It’s also advisable to use a battery of similar size.

What About Jump-Starter Packs?

Jump-starting your jet ski from a truck isn’t the best approach; it’s better to replace the battery.

However, in emergencies, you can use a separate jump starter battery pack.

If you find yourself jump-starting your watercraft frequently, investigate why your battery keeps dying. Personally, I use a solar charger on my jet ski all the time and replace the battery after 5 years.

I understand that jump starter packs require maintenance, which can be a hassle. Fortunately, super capacitor jump starters are a solution to the problem.

Check Out Super Capacitor Starters

I used to have a regular battery jump-box in my car but switched to super capacitor ones. They seem like magic as they don’t need constant charging, can sit uncharged for years, and can even charge themselves from your dead battery or another car’s 12-volt outlet.

Author

Steven

I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created StevenInSales.com in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

Comments

  1. YAMAHA 2022VX – Battery appears to be draining all the time, thinking of installing a cut off switch as something is pulling current. Anyone else?

    Reply
    • It’s best to do some tests to see if there is a constant power draw before installing a switch. I would avoid a battery switch altogether and instead go with a solar battery charger: https://www.steveninsales.com/best-jet-ski-solar-battery-charger/

      Most of the time it’s not a draw on the battery, but that the battery is not being used enough and it goes flat. A solar charger will keep the battery active and happy, and far easier than installing a battery switch.

      Reply

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