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How to jump start semi truck

March 29, 2022

how to jump start a semi truck

Learning how to jump start semi truck can be a useful skill. M​ost of you are probably familiar with the process of jump starting a car. It’s the sort of thing we all learn, sometimes the hard way. And it’s a hugely useful skill to have, since a dead car battery is something you’re pretty much guaranteed. To experience at least once, and it never seems to happen at a convenient time or location.

I​f you’ve never tried to jump-start a semi truck. You may be thinking that since you already know how to jump-start a car. You already know what to do if your truck’s battery goes dead.
W​hile there are definite similarities, you should know that jump-starting a semi truck is not exactly like jump starting a car. If you don’t learn the differences, you could end up seriously damaging the truck or injuring yourself. Here’s what you need to know about how to jump start a semi truck.

E​quipment to Jump Start a Semi Truck

O​ne of the most important things to remember is that you absolutely need the right equipment before you jump start a semi truck. Using the wrong tools will prevent the jump start from working, and could drain the battery in you’re jump starter, leaving you stranded.

Y​ou need jumper cables that are 15-20 feet long, and the wire thickness has to be a minimum of 2-gauge. You also need a 12-volt battery.

O​r, you can use a specially designed jump-starter or battery charger. These should come with the right voltage and heavy-duty cables that can handle the current, but it’s always good to double check.

S​afety goggles are also a must. Touching the end of a jumper cable to the wrong component is easy to do accidentally, it can cause a lot of sparks. You really don’t want those hitting your eye.

semi truck that needs a jump start

H​ow To Jump Start A Semi Truck

O​nce you’ve got your equipment ready, it’s time to jump start your semi truck. The process is very straightforward, and as long as you have the right equipment you should have no trouble.

  1. Turn off the truck, including all electrical systems like the radio. This is an essential safety step that many people neglect, but you should never connect cables to the battery. While there’s any electrical system in the truck that’s running.
  2. Make sure the truck you’re using to jump start your truck is completely shut off, as well.
  3. Locate the starter terminals. These will not necessarily be on the battery, and it’s a very good idea to lcoate these and make a note of where they are before you ever drive the truck. Once you’ve found them, make sure they’re clean and free of corrosion. Otherwise you may have trouble jump starting your semi truck.
  4. Attach the positive end of the jumper cable to the positive terminal on your dead battery, and attach the other positive clamp to the positive terminal on the other battery you’re using to supply the energy to jump start your semi truck.
  5. Now, attach the negative clamps on your cable to the negative terminals on both batteries.
  6. Turn on the truck with the charged battery, and let it run for several minutes.
  7. Now, turn on your truck. Once it’s on, you can disconnect the cables in reverse order from how you connected them, and then let your truck run for 15-20 minutes to ensure the battery is charged.

N​ow, if you’re using a battery charger or a jump-starter, the process is a bit different. That’s because there’s no second battery to connect to, but you’ll still need to ground the circuit on the negative clamp. This means you’ve got to find a good, sturdy, metal component to clamp the negative clamp onto.

A​ clean metal plate that’s free of rust is ideal, so look for the brackets holding various components in place. Once the negative clamp is secured on that, simply turn on the charger/jump starter, then wait a few minutes and turn on the truck.

semi truck engine needing jump start

W​hat If The Engine Doesn’t Turn Over?

I​f you’ve connected everything, turned on the jump starter or the assisting vehicle, and your engine still won’t turn over. It’s likely you’ve made a mistake with the jumper cable.
B​ut before you lift the semi truck hood, just shut off the semi truck with the dead battery, wait a few minutes, and try again. It’s possible you simply didn’t have enough charge in the battery yet to start the engine. But if the engine still won’t turn over, there’s a problem with the cables.

D​ouble check that you’ve connected the cables properly. In order to jump start a semi truck you need to have all four clamps connected in the right spot. If a negative clamp is on a positive terminal, you won’t be able to jump start a semi truck.

M​ost often, if the battery won’t turn over, it’s because terminal has too much corrosion on it for the current to get through. Cleaning the terminal off may help- a lot of drivers keep a few cans of soda on hand just for this. It works very well for cleaning battery corrosion can be a big help when you need to jump start a semi truck.

O​nce the terminals are clean, reattach the clamps, paying close attention to which clamps go where, and then let the assisting semi truck run for a few minutes before you try to turn on your own semi truck. This time it should work, and you will have successfully jump started your semi truck.

I​f not, you may have a problem somewhere else, and a jump start isn’t what your semi truck needs.


A​s you can see, if you know how to jump start a car. You mostly know how to jump start a semi truck. The biggest differences are with the location of the various components and the equipment. That you need in order to successfully jump start a semi truck. O​ther than that, the process is more or less the same. Although it might take a bit more time to get enough of a charge in your semi truck battery before the engine will start.

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