Can You Jump Start a Semi with a Pickup? [Answered!]

We often think of semi-trucks and pickups as two very different types of vehicles. Even though they are both powered by internal combustion engines, a pickup is much smaller than a semi-truck.

Due to the similarities, many people have wondered if jump-starting a semi-truck is possible with a pickup truck. But there are various confusions and dilemmas regarding this.

So, can you jump start a semi with a pickup?

Yes, you can jump-start a semi with a pickup. To do so, first, test the batteries for identical voltages. Then, park both trucks close. Afterward, charge the battery of the semi-truck and try starting the semi-truck. Repeat the process if it doesn’t start. Finally, remove the jumper cables.

This is not all the information you need though. To know the proper steps and guidelines, read the article till the end!

Is It Possible to Jump Start a Semi-Truck with a Pickup?

The most common types of jump-starts are jump-starting diesel trucks with cars, jump-starting cars with truck batteries, etc. These are the jump-starting procedures that car and truck users are aware of, commonly. 

But how about jump-starting one truck with another truck? Specifically, jump-starting a semi-truck with a pickup truck; is it possible?

Jump Start a Semi-Truck

Well, the short answer to that question is, yes! It is definitely possible to jump-start the semi-truck with a pickup. Quite conveniently, both types of trucks use the same battery. Hence, you can jump-start the semi-truck with the pickup.

Vehicle TypeBattery TypeVoltage
Semi TruckLead-acid/AGM12 Volts
Pickup TruckLead-acid/AGM12 Volts

While it’s an easy process to jump semi-truck batteries with the best jump-starters, you might not have one around. In that case, you can use a pickup battery to do so.

In the next segment, I’ve discussed the steps to jump-start a semi-truck with a pickup truck.

How to Jump Start a Semi with a Pickup

Before getting to the step-by-step guideline for jump-starting the semi-truck, you need to test and gather some materials/equipment. Firstly, you need to check both the battery voltages of the semi-truck and the pickup truck.

It’s essential for the voltages of the batteries to match. If the batteries have different voltages, serious accidents may occur by trying to jump-start either of the batteries! 

Even if the trucks use the same batteries, the voltages might be different. This can be caused by discharging, which leads to a voltage drop in batteries.

Test the Battery Voltages:

To measure the voltage of the truck batteries, you will need a multimeter. Here are the steps-

Step 1: Turn the Headlights on

Before doing the testing, turn the headlights of the truck you wish to test the battery on. Keep the lights on for at least 2 minutes. Doing so will get rid of any surface charge on the battery and provide accurate readings.

Step 2: Shut Down the Engine 

After that, shut the engine down. Do this for both the semi-truck and the pickup truck. All accessories must also be turned off. 

Step 3: Set the Multimeter to Voltage Mode

Any multimeter has different modes to measure different electrical aspects. For instance, resistance, current, volts, etc. For the truck battery, we will need volts.

So set the multimeter to ‘Voltage’ mode. The voltage section will be under ‘V’ or ‘DCV’ on your multimeter. Set it to 20V.

Step 4: Connect the Cables

Locate the positive lead and the negative lead of the truck battery. This negative lead is the ground for the testing. Now, connect the cables of the multimeter to the leads of the battery.
First, connect the red cable to the positive lead. Then, connect the black cable to the negative lead. This will put up a voltage count on the multimeter.

Follow all the steps for both truck batteries. If the voltages match, you can safely perform the next steps.

Connect the Cables

Equipment Needed:

Here is the list of equipment you will need to jump-start the semi-truck:

Battery jumper cablesCheck Latest Price
Safety glassesCheck Latest Price
Voltage Insulating Rubber GlovesCheck Latest Price

Now, let’s move on to the steps of this procedure.

Steps to Jump-start the Semi:

Follow the steps below in sequence for a successful jump-start:

Step 1: Safety First

Before starting off anything, put the rubber gloves and the safety glasses on. This will help you to be safe and secure in many other situations as well. For example, while jumping a starter solenoid, fixing the wire harness in trucks, etc.

Step 2: Park the Vehicles

In order the jump-start the semi-truck with the pickup, they need to be parked close. That way, it will be easier to attach the jumper cables.

First, park both vehicles against each other, in a safe spot. Leave 5-6 feet of gap between them, don’t let the trucks touch.

Then, shift the gear to neutral for both trucks and set the parking brakes. Additionally, you should turn off all the electrical loads too.

Step 3: Make the Positive and Negative Connections

For this step, take the positive end of the jumper cable. Then, connect one end to the positive terminal of the pickup truck’s battery. Connect the other end to the positive terminal of the semi truck’s battery.

Next, connect the negative end of the jumper cable to the negative terminal of the pickup truck’s battery. 

Connect the other end to the chassis frame of the semi-truck. Note that, connecting directly to the negative terminal of the semi-truck can generate sparks!

Step 4: Charge the Semi-truck Battery

Now that all the connections are made properly, you have to charge the semi-truck battery. To do this, all you need to do is to turn the ignition on for the pickup truck.

In this situation, the pickup truck’s considered to be the ‘booster vehicle’ and will charge the semi-truck battery.

It’s not necessary to charge the semi-truck battery fully. Charging it for at least 5 minutes will be enough. Later on, the alternator of the semi-truck will charge the battery further.

Step 5: Start the Semi-truck

It’s time to start the semi-truck now. You have to disconnect the jumper cables from the pickup truck. Starting the battery while the jumper cables are connected can be dangerous. It carries a similar risk as jumping a plugged-in starter.

Turn the ignition of the semi on and try starting the engine. If the engine cranks but doesn’t start, keep trying. If the engine’s not starting after 5-6 cranks, the battery needs some more charge. 

Reconnect the jumper cables with the pickup truck and charge the semi-truck battery for another 5 minutes.

Reconnect the jumper cables

Step 6: Disconnect the Jumper Cables

After the semi-truck can start properly, remove the jumper cables. First, remove the negative cable that’s connected to the semi-truck chassis. Then, remove the other end of the negative cable.

Do similar steps with the positive cables and terminals as well. Disconnect the positive cable from the pickup battery first and then disconnect from the semi-truck battery as well.

Additional Tips: Jump Starting a Semi with a Pickup

For your convenience, here are some additional tips regarding jump-starting a semi-truck with a pickup truck-

  1. Always check the battery terminals before connecting the cables. If the battery terminals are dirty or corroded, it’s best to clean them.
    You can clean the battery terminals using a coating of baking soda and a steel wire brush. An old toothbrush can do the trick too.
  2. If you’re in a cold climate, try to jump-start the battery somewhere warm. Low temperatures slow down and disrupt the functions of a battery.

    Therefore, jump-starting a truck battery can be tough under low-temperature conditions.
  3. If your truck battery keeps dying and has less efficiency, consider replacing it. A new battery will save you from hassles like corroded connections, jump-starting, etc. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can all vehicles be jump-started?

Yes, all vehicles can be jump-started. Still, it can be a risky task because the condition of the battery inside every vehicle is not the same. It’ll take knowledge and experience to safely jump-start any vehicle.

Can a car battery jump a diesel truck?

Car batteries can easily jump a diesel truck. You’ll just need the jumper cables to do so. But remember, this procedure might put some pressure on the car’s battery!

Are diesel vehicles harder to jump-start?

Diesel vehicles are harder to jump-start as they require more power. In turn, this puts more pressure on the jump starter’s battery and therefore the process is harder. 

The Final Words

That’s everything for this topic! Hopefully, now you have the answer to this question, “can you jump start a semi with a pickup?” 

If you’re feeling unsafe jump-starting your semi-truck on your own, don’t worry. Call a nearby mechanic and they’ll be able to jump-start your truck in no time!

Best of luck!

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About Frank Diaz

Hi everyone, my name is Frank Diaz and I am the face behind GaragestPicks. I studied Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and worked as a mechanic for over 20 years. I love working on cars and doing DIY projects around the house. I write this blog to share my knowledge and help others fix their cars with most common tools.

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