Can you jump start a PHEV? - Kia Niro Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-17-2018, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Can you jump start a PHEV?

Chapter 7 of the owner's manual has a section titled "Before jump starting (For Hybrid)", but there is no corresponding section for the PHEV. Also, I've read that the high voltage HSG is what starts the ICE, so it seems that if both batteries were flat, jump starting the 12 V battery might allow the computer to work, but there wouldn't be a way to start the ICE. Is that correct?


I'll be taking a road trip next month, and was wondering if I should pack the trickle charger, booster cables, or both, just as a precaution. Seems like I should probably pack at least the charger.


On a related note, I've been reading on other threads that jump starting someone else's car with an HEV is not recommended. Does that also apply to the PHEV, or is it safe to give someone else a boost from a PHEV?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-17-2018, 07:46 PM
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The 12 v battery in both the HEV and PHEV are low capacity. They were not made for sufficient "cranking" power to start engines. In addition, you may screw up the electronics.

Yes, it is possible to "jump" your PHEV or the HEV. But you are also right in that if the traction battery is flat, it won't do any good. Unlikely your traction battery will ever get flat, but if it does, it will require a tow to the dealer.

The most likely scenario to need a "jump" is you left a light on, and the PHEV did its automatic charging of the 12 v from the traction battery. That will be done a limited number of times to prevent the traction battery from discharging too low. I'm not sure if you can do a last ditch "battery" reset at that point like the HEV but if not, you are dead and you need some 12 v source to wake the ECU to get going.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-17-2018, 08:46 PM
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you would need to be doing something purposefully wrong to be able to discharge the main traction battery enough that it couldn't boost the 12v suplimental battery enough to get going. I think that these cars are pretty self sufficiant in the way the electronics inside self manage to not really need the set of boostercables. Also, I don't know about the other countries but I know in Canada they come with FREE ROAD SIDE ASSISTANCE for is it 5 years. I didn't think the cars have been sold for long enough for anyone to need to bring a set of anything as the road side assistance should have your covered for just about anything that you could run into for at least 3 more years if you purchased a 2017 model.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-17-2018, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses.


Yes, I have the free roadside assistance, although I vaguely recall one or two people commenting on this forum that trying to use it was a painful experience (something about a recorded message asking the owner to type in the VIN, and no keyboard to type with). And I'm not really expecting to have an out-of-battery-charge condition, but there are a few threads on this forum where others did experience that. The manual notes that the vanity lights over the visors and the interior light that comes on when the back hatch is opened will not automatically shut off and can wear down the battery. I've already observed on two occasions that it's possible to get the back hatch in a half-latched state where you can't push it in to get it fully latched, but you also can't open it from the exterior button on the door. I don't know if the interior light comes on in that scenario, but I imagine it could. When this has come up for me, the only thing that worked was to use the key fob button that unlatches the hatch.



A few people have noted that the trickle charger that comes with the PHEV is described in the manual as an "emergency charger". The manual also recommends keeping it in the car. I'm starting to think that it is recommended to keep it in the car in case you find yourself with a flat traction battery for some unexpected reason, because booster cables probably won't solve the problem if both batteries are flat.


It looks like my electric range goes to zero when the high voltage battery has about 20% capacity, but I've seen the battery get as low as 6% (as reported by the PHEV app on the dashboard). In that condition, if someone were to leave a visor light on for a day or two and the "Battery Saver" were to run multiple times to replenish the 12V battery from what's left of the high voltage battery, it's easy to imagine that both could be low enough to prevent starting the ICE.



As for giving someone else a boost, I wonder if temporarily disabling the PHEV's "Battery Saver+" feature, and hooking up the cables with the ignition turned off, would be safe for both cars? In other threads, certain HEV owners have commented that they plan to decline to ever give anyone a boost. That's easy to say, until it's your wife or your brother that needs a boost, and maybe there are urgent circumstances, and your Niro is the only option around...


It would be nice if the Kia owner's manual documentation was clearer on some of these questions.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 06:26 AM
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The battery saver will only work a limited number of times to protect the traction battery charge.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 10:00 PM
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2018 PHEV here. I have had to jump start mine....I'm one of the 'miserable roadside assistance experience' people. Few comments on the process...

1. The HEV and PHEV are different. The PHEV version has a completely separate standard 12v car battery found behind the plastic panel in the right rear of the hatch. The HEV does not.
2. The HEV has a 'reset' for the 12v...they are physically the same unit. The PHEV has some kind of recharge scheme that the main battery will charge the 12v up if the 12v drains when the car is off. However it only runs a set number of cycles and will stop so as not to run the high voltage battery dead.
3. Yes you can (and in my case must) jump start the vehicle if the 12v is dead. In my case the high voltage battery was still nearly full. For whatever reason while the car was sitting plugged in overnight the 12v drained, was refilled by the big battery, then drained again. I think it'll only do this a couple times before giving up. In any case car was stone dead to the point of no interior light. A full main battery does not help in this situation. It WILL NOT start regardless of the status of the main battery.
4. There are two spots to jump start it. Under the hood there's a big electrical box with plastic cover. Pop it off and there's a positive battery post there among other things. Well not exactly a post but a designated metal piece to clamp on to. The negative is to be latched onto whatever metal piece you like for ground. There is no negative post. This is the approved procedure in the manual. Alternatively I suppose you could connect the jumpers straight up to the 12v battery in back. I'd just use the one they tell you to use though.
5. Similarly you can jump start someone else using the same connections.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2018, 07:15 AM
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2018 PHEV here. I have had to jump start mine....I'm one of the 'miserable roadside assistance experience' people. Few comments on the process...

4. There are two spots to jump start it. Under the hood, there's a big electrical box with plastic cover. Pop it off and there's a positive battery post there among other things. Well, not exactly a post but a designated metal piece to clamp on to. The negative is to be latched onto whatever metal piece you like for ground. There is no negative post. This is the approved procedure in the manual.

I have a 2018 HEV and my vehicle has the exact same post inside the main engine electrical fuse box. I was also told by my Kia Dealer head mechanic that the HEV also has two separate batteries inside. As I have not taken the whole car apart and looked for where the batteries are located, I can't say if there are two separate distinct batteries inside the car or if it's just one. But I do not know of how you would take a single battery cluster and partition of a certain percentage or part of the battery. The confusion might come in they package the whole battery as a single wrapped unit, but there are two separate physical battery clusters inside.

I think they are not lead-acid batteries, but L-Ion, and in which case, the battery is made up of multiple small 1.5v cells that are joined together in clusters to make up the voltage and current required. Joining a small battery in series gives you a higher voltage, where joining them in parallel gives you a higher current.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2018, 09:12 AM
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The HEV does have two electrically separate and distinct batteries, however they are physically attached to each other mechanically under the rear seat. They are both lithium polymer. The 12 v battery is very small, around 8 x 8 x 2 inches. Saves a ton of weight over the lead acid battery, which is Kia's stated reason for using it. Doesn't explain why they don't for the PHEV and EV, both of which use a lead acid battery (albeit a smaller one than used in cars that rely on the 12 v for cranking the engine). My best guess is that the lead acid battery is cheaper, and the extra weight matters little in the substantially heavier PHEV and EV models. A bit cynical I know, but I suspect the weight saved allows them to game the EPA (and European) efficiency cycles in the lighter HEV, but makes no difference in the higher weight brackets.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2018, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by yticolev View Post
The HEV does have two electrically separate and distinct batteries, however they are physically attached to each other mechanically under the rear seat. They are both lithium polymer. The 12 v battery is very small, around 8 x 8 x 2 inches. Saves a ton of weight over the lead acid battery, which is Kia's stated reason for using it. Doesn't explain why they don't for the PHEV and EV, both of which use a lead acid battery (albeit a smaller one than used in cars that rely on the 12 v for cranking the engine). My best guess is that the lead acid battery is cheaper, and the extra weight matters little in the substantially heavier PHEV and EV models. A bit cynical I know, but I suspect the weight saved allows them to game the EPA (and European) efficiency cycles in the lighter HEV, but makes no difference in the higher weight brackets.
Makes sense. I just hope the 12v. part of the battery lasts as long as the HV part of the battery. Since the 12v. is really separate but packaged together I understand they are both considered the "Hybrid battery" and the little 12v. part is covered on the Hybrid warranty. Is that correct. If just the 12v. battery goes bad is is possible to take things apart and just replace the 12v. part? I'm under the impression it's not? Talking about just the HV Niro.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2018, 05:09 PM
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It certainly is possible to replace just the lithium 12 v battery, and yes, it is covered under the drivetrain warranty where presumably the PHEV one is not covered.

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