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Summary
  • Most car batteries run on 12 volts, which is too low to electrocute you to death. However, you can still end up causing a short circuit or getting burned when you try to jumpstart your car in the rain.
  • You can safely jumpstart a car in the rain if your jumper cables are in good condition, you’re wearing protective gear, and your battery isn’t frozen or leaking.
  • In most cases, you can still jumpstart your car even if you’re stuck in a thunderstorm. However, it might be better to seek shelter and wait for the storm to pass first.

No driver likes getting stranded, especially when it’s raining cats and dogs. In most cases, however, it’s out of your hands, and your only two choices are to either call and wait for help or try to revive your vehicle’s dead battery. Jumpstarting your car is the faster option, but is it actually safe to do so when you’re out in the rain?

Caution: People jump cars off every day without eye protection, but nobody ever should. Never work around a car battery or attempt to jump start a car without good eye protection. Batteries can produce explosive gasses that can cause the battery to explode and deal serious injury. Take this very seriously.

Can You Jumpstart a Car in the Rain?

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually jumpstart a car in the rain. People often think they’ll get electrocuted if they try jumping their vehicle in the rain, but this isn’t 100% true. Most car batteries only run on 12 volts, which is actually too low to electrocute you to death. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other risks involved. There’s still a chance of causing a short circuit or even getting yourself burned.

When Is It Safe to Jumpstart a Car in the Rain?

Jumping a car in the rain is perfectly safe under the right conditions. Here’s a list of things to consider first before jumpstarting your car:

Your Cables Are in Good Condition

You can’t safely jumpstart your car if your jumper cables are in bad shape. Check for any exposed wires. If an exposed wire on the positive cable touches the engine, body, or frame, you’ll see nasty sparks. If both cables have exposed copper, they can touch each other, and this causes sparks, too.

You’re Wearing Protective Gear

Whether it’s raining or not, you should always wear gloves and good eye protection when jumpstarting your car.

Your Battery Isn’t Frozen or Leaking

Check on your car battery’s condition first. If it’s frozen or leaking, you’ll have to put away the jumper cables. Trying to jumpstart frozen or leaking batteries can cause an explosion. Your best chance then would be to call for professional help.

You Have an Umbrella

As much as possible, keep yourself nice and dry under an umbrella (unless you’re in a howling windstorm, which sometimes happens with rain).

Can You Use Jumper Cables in a Rainstorm?

In most cases, yes, you can still jumpstart your car even if you’re stuck in a thunderstorm. As long as you meet all the conditions previously mentioned, then you should be fine. However, it might be better to wait for the storm to pass. If you’re parked at a safe location, why not seek shelter first? You can wait for the storm to clear before jumpstarting your car.

Can You Jumpstart a Wet Car Battery?

You can still jumpstart a wet car battery. The water doesn’t matter at all when jumping a 12 volt car battery.

How To Safely Jumpstart Your Car in the Rain

Jumping your car in the rain can be scary, but as long as you’re careful, everything will be alright. Here are some tips to help you safely jumpstart your car:

Prepare Your Vehicle

If the battery is dead, you won’t be able to move the car. If you can start it and park it a different way than it is already parked, you don’t need to jump start it. As for the vehicle with the good battery, park it with the good battery facing your car or close enough beside it so the jumper cables will reach from one battery to the other. Turn off its engine, and then engage the parking brake.

, Can You Jump a Car in the Rain?

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: Some vehicles have the battery in the trunk or a wheel well (like some Chryslers) so that you can’t get to the battery, but these cars will typically have connection points specifically for jump starting. You can usually spot these pretty easily, so make sure you know where to connect the cables on a vehicle like that.

If you find your cables are too short to reach from one battery to the other, reposition the vehicle. In a parking lot situation, you may have to push the dead vehicle to a different spot so you can get the good battery vehicle close enough to it. Switch off the electrical systems in both cars, including your lights, air conditioning (A/C), and radio.

If you have time, consult your owner’s manual about how to jumpstart your battery, so you can be sure you’re following your manufacturer’s instructions. But if you don’t have time to read the owner’s manual, just get it done.

If you find your cables are too short to reach from one battery to the other, reposition the vehicle.

– Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Connect the Jumper Cables

Always keep in mind that the red cable connects to the positive terminals of the batteries and the black cable connects to the negative terminal of the donor battery. You can start by attaching one end of the red cable to the red battery terminal of the donor vehicle before connecting the other end to the positive terminal of your car.

If both cables and clamps are the same color, make sure you don’t cross the cables and connect positive to negative or you can cause damage.

Then, connect one end of the black cable to the black terminal of the donor car before attaching the other end to a metal surface of your car, such as the engine block.

diagram showing how to jumpstart a car
Diagram showing how to jumpstart a car | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Start the Car With the Working Battery

After both cables are securely attached, you can now start the vehicle with the working battery. Let it run for a few minutes until it restores some power to your car’s dead battery.

dirty battery terminals in need of cleaning
If you have really dirty battery terminals, you’ll have to work diligently to make sure you have good connections and clean those cables. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
cheap jumper cables might not get instant results
All jumper cables aren’t created equal. If you’re using cheap jumper cables, you might not get instant results, especially if the donor vehicle’s battery has reduced CCA due to age. You need some really good cables (see photo). These heavy cables are homemade but they never fail, even if you’re starting large diesel engines. Cheap cables will be a hit-and-miss option at best. They may work and they may not. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Start Your Car

You should be able to start your car right away. Some people using cheap cables will allow the donor vehicle to idle and charge the dead battery, then try to start the car after a few minutes.

If it refuses to start, try waiting for a few more minutes before trying again. But if you’re using good quality cables and have good connections, the car should start right away without waiting. If the engine stalls as soon as you disconnect one of the cables, suspect a bad alternator.

Disconnect the Cables Properly

You’ll have to take the jumper cables off in the reverse order that you attached them. In other words, you now have to start removing the black cable before you unplug the red cable.

One reason for attaching the black cable last and disconnecting it first is that the negative connection is slightly less prone to creating a spark when a connection is made or broken than the positive.

Get Your Battery Checked

A dead battery means there’s something wrong either with the battery itself or the vehicle. Check to see if you have any lights on (like map lights a child might have turned on in the back seat), etc. Consider taking your vehicle to a mechanic so they can check on your battery.

Other Safety Tips for Jumpstarting a Car in the Rain

You can never be too careful, so here are a few more tips to help you jump your car in the rain:

Keep the Hood Closed Until Connecting the Cables

Don’t pop open the hood too early. We know you probably want to start your car and get out of the rain as soon as possible, but opening the hood exposes everything under it to the rain. Keep it closed until you’re ready to connect the cables.

, Can You Jump a Car in the Rain?

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: Of course, if you don’t know where the battery is or where the jumper points are located, you might need to open the hood to find these. But if it rains too much into the engine compartment, it can cause problems, so do what you can to minimize the engine compartment’s exposure to the rain, especially for extended periods.

Wear Gloves

As you rush to jumpstart your car, don’t forget to wear gloves first, so you don’t have to directly touch any electrical components. If you don’t have any gloves with you, you can try wiping your hands with a dry cloth.

Ask for Professional Help

It’s only natural to be scared when you’re stranded with a dead battery during a rainy day, but don’t forget you don’t have to do everything on your own. If you don’t think you can safely jumpstart your car on your own, then it might be better to call for professional help.

Where to Get a New Car Battery

After jumpstarting your car and getting to your destination or an auto repair shop, it’s usually best to replace your battery with a new one. Fortunately, finding a new car battery is easy with the help of CarParts.com.

You won’t have to worry about your new car battery dying on you any time soon — we make sure our products are just as good as your stock parts. Our car batteries are carefully vetted by a team of professionals to guarantee both quality and longevity.

The best part? You don’t even have to leave your home to order a new car battery. Simply use your mobile device or computer to visit our website. Then, fill out our vehicle selector and use the search filters to find direct-fit batteries that match your preferred brand, price, type, and more.

On top of that, our warehouses are strategically located all over the US, so you’ll be able to receive your order within a matter of days. We’ll also help you get the most value for your money with our unbeatable deals and competitive prices.

Check out our catalog and order your new battery today!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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