We are all so reliant on our cars these days, going to work, taking the kids to school, and going shopping. But when your car doesn’t start, what do you do? It’s useful to know how to start a car with a dead battery without another car.
This brief article looks at the various options for starting your car when the battery is dead.
Pushing the Car
Push starting your car is probably one of the simplest options, especially if there is someone to help you. This will work if the battery powers the dashboard lights but is too weak to crank the engine.
For the best chance of push-starting your car, follow these simple steps:
- Find someone to push the car for you.
- Switch the ignition to on – the engine warning lights should be on.
- Engage the handbrake and put the car into second gear.
- Push the clutch pedal to the floor.
- Release the handbrake and ask your friend to start pushing.
- Once you are moving, quickly drop the clutch pedal.
It is easy to stall the car at this stage. Either carry on driving normally or push the clutch in and use the throttle to rev the engine gently.
On smaller cars, or when parked on a slope, it is possible to push start a car by yourself.
Jump Start a Car with a Rope
There is a little trick you can use on some cars. This will only work with smaller engine petrol cars, and it must be a manual, not automatic. It is a challenging method to use on rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
You will need a length of rope and a jack. Follow these steps:
- Makes sure you apply the handbrake.
- Jack up the car to lift one of the front wheels off the ground. Make sure there is a good gap between the tire and the ground.
- Put the car into third gear.
- Switch the ignition to on.
- Wrap a rope around the front wheel in a clockwise direction.
- Leave enough rope for you to be able to pull.
- Pull the rope as hard as you can.
- If you are lucky, the engine will start.
We have to point out that there are some dangers with this method:
- If the gap between the tire and the ground is too small, it may grip and move the car forwards.
- If your handbrake is not good, the jack may move, and the car could fall off it as you pull the rope.
In both the cases above, the car can keep moving once the engine has started. Use this method with caution! A solution would be for someone to be in the driver’s seat when you attempt to start the engine.
This video on starting your car with a rope explains the process clearly.
Tapping the Starter Motor to Start your Dead Car
Components on cars wear out. It’s a fact of life. If your starter motor is failing, it may not start the engine. But you may be able to give it a helping hand. Merely tapping the starter is maybe enough.
Follow our simple method below:
- First, you’ll want to make sure the battery is good. Switch on the headlights and try to start the car. If the headlights go dim, then it could be your battery at fault. If they stay bright, then your battery is good.
- Locate your starter motor. It’s bolted somewhere between the engine and the transmission. You can also trace the route of the thick cable from the positive of the battery to the starter.
- Tap the starter a fair few times and then try to start the engine again.
- If a friend is with you, ask them to turn the ignition key to start while you tap the starter motor. Make sure the car is out of gear with the handbrake on before you start.
If you can, use something non-metallic to tap the starter. If you only have something metal, keep it away from the battery cable attached to the starter.
Watch this video on tapping your starter motor for a simple explanation of the process.
Jumpstart your Car Using AA Batteries in Series
Believe it or not, the small AA batteries we have at home can get your car started. Now, of course, the low voltage batteries won’t have enough power to crank your engine. But you can use them to top up the charge in your car’s battery. Bear in mind that this is not a quick solution.
- Solder ten AA batteries in series.
- Solder connecting cables to each end of the series of AA batteries.
- Connect the AA batteries to your car battery. Make sure you connect positive to positive and negative to negative.
- Leave them connected for around ten minutes.
- Disconnect the batteries and try starting your car.
Watch this video on starting your car with AA batteries for more information.
Jumpstart with a Jumpstarter Battery Pack
Jumpstarter battery packs are perfect for getting your car running when you have a flat battery. Simple connect the pack to your car battery and crank the engine. If you have breakdown insurance, they will most likely use a battery pack to get you going.
- Locate your car battery – it could be in the trunk.
- Connect the battery pack – positive to positive and negative to negative.
- Start your engine.
- Disconnect the battery pack.
Read more: How Long To Recharge Car Battery After Jump?
Charge the Battery with a Battery Charger
Using a battery charger is an easy, albeit slow, way of getting your car started. If you are not in a hurry, then this is probably the easiest solution. Even if you are in a hurry and use another method to get going, you still must charge your battery.
While your engine is running, the alternator charges the battery. Your alternator is only designed to top up your battery and not recharge it from flat. For this reason, you must put your battery on charge as soon as you can.
There are various types of battery chargers available, from fast chargers to trickle chargers.
A fast charger can quickly recharge your battery. In 30 minutes or fewer, it will give enough charge to start the engine. A trickle charger will take much longer and will take several hours to recharge your battery.
Both types of chargers are available at auto parts stores or home repair centers for under $50.
To charge your car battery with a charger:
- Locate your car battery – it could be in the trunk.
- Connect the battery charger – positive to positive and negative to negative.
- Plug your charger in and switch on.
- If the charger has an auto shut off, then leave it connected until charging is complete. Otherwise, calculate the charge time using this handy calculator.
Can you push start an automatic?
In general, no, you cannot push start an automatic. There a few exceptions, but in 99.99% of cases, it’s not possible. This is because of the design of the automatic clutch.
There is also the possibility of damaging engine components.
Can I tow an automatic car to bump-start it?
It is not advisable to tow an automatic with the wheels on the ground because of the automatic clutch design. Check the owner’s manual before doing so.
Can I call someone to jump my car?
If you have a breakdown cover that covers a flat battery, then sure. You may also have a friend that can help. Just make sure you have a set of jump leads.