If your car battery dies and the car won’t start, it is a bad situation, but it is even worse if you do not have a set of jumper cables, jump starter pack, or battery charger on hand. You might think your only solution is to call a friend or a tow truck. Fortunately, there are a few other options you can try to start your car and get it back on the road again. This article will give you a few solutions to the problem and show you how to start a car with a dead battery. It will focus on how to jump-start a car without another car or cables.
Depending on your situation, you might be able to pull a charge off of rechargeable power tool batteries or other rechargeable items. If you have a manual transmission, you might be able to push start it. We also have a few other starter tricks and options for you to try. The good news is you don’t have to have a lot of mechanical knowledge to make alternative ways to start your car work.
You might try a few simple tricks before you resort to drastic measures like starting from your power tools. The reason why your car battery might not start might be a simple problem and easy to fix. We have a few possible solutions, let’s start with the easiest one first.
Your Battery Might Not Be Dead
Your battery might not be dead, but it might not have enough power to start the engine.
- Turn off all of the electronics in the car. Turn off your lights, car radio, heaters, USB cell phone chargers, and anything else drawing power from the engine. Starting a car without another car, without a jump starter, and without jumper cables is best attempted with no electronics on at all that could drain energy from the battery.
- Now, allow the battery to sit for about 10 minutes undisturbed. Try it again. This may give it just enough power to turn the engine over.
- If it is cold outside, try letting the battery warm up. Cold batteries have less power than warm ones, and sometimes, simply warming them up will allow them to have enough power to turn over the engine. Some batteries are more sensitive to cold temperatures than others. One thing to note is you should never turn a battery upside down.
These are a few simple steps you can try, but if you still have a problem, it’s time to move on to the next solution.
How to Push Start a Car with a Manual Transmission
The next solution only applies to cars with a manual transmission. This is an older trick from the days when all transmissions were manual, and it works most of the time.
- First, ensure all of the electronics in the vehicle are turned off.
- This works best if the car is on a downhill slope. If this is the case, you can allow the car to roll on its own and will not have to push it. Try to choose a spot where you have a long distance before any other objects to avoid, like another parked car.
- Make sure your key is in the “on” position. Use the key to turn on the car and let go, allowing the key to settle into the “on” position.
- Press the clutch in, and put the car into third gear, and release the emergency brake. Put your foot on the brake until you are ready.
- When performing this method, please keep in mind you don’t have power steering, power brakes, or any other power functions of the car. This means you will have to use more force to steer and stop the car with the brake.
- Allow the car to begin rolling forward. As it picks up speed, let off the clutch, and the car should start. Immediately press the brake and clutch. Let the car run a few minutes to let the alternator charge the battery.
Your car should be started. Here is a video showing how to push start a manual transmission car:
How to Start Batteries with Power Tools
If you have any rechargeable drills, lawnmowers, or anything that runs on a charger between 12 and 14 volts, you can use it to give your car battery a boost. This might not always work if your car battery is drained too low, but if it is just below the point where it can start (below 10.6 volts), this method might work. You will need a set of car jumper cables, two long screws, and a fully charged battery to use this method.
- Turn off all electronics in the car. You also need to set the emergency brake and raise the hood.
- Locate a power tool, appliance, or other rechargeable battery has a full charge on it. Locate the positive and negative terminals on the socket. The positive plug hole in the socket will have a plus (+) sign, and the negative plug hole in the socket will have a negative (-) sign.
- Use two screws and stick them securely into the positive and negative socket holes on the rechargeable battery. Make sure the connection is tight, and they are secure.
- Now, hook the positive, red jumper cable to the positive terminal on the car battery. Hook the negative, black jumper cable to the negative terminal on the car battery. Do not rely on the battery post’s position to indicate positive and negative because this can differ according to brand and type of battery. You should never allow the battery cable ends to touch when performing any of these operations because it could produce a spark.
- Next, hook the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal on the power tool battery. Then, hook up the negative cable to the negative hole on the power source. Allow the battery to charge for about 10 minutes.
- Try to start the car. If it starts, you can remove the negative battery terminal from the rechargeable power tool battery, and disconnect the positive terminal. Now, disconnect the negative terminal from your car battery and the positive terminal. Remember: don’t allow the jumper cable ends to touch at any time while doing this.
Please be aware starting your battery this way isn’t good for your car battery, and it’s only good for one jump. You may have to check and replace your battery if it’s time. You can check out this video:
Another Way to Start a Car Without Battery Cables
If you have another car battery or power source and do not have jumper cables, you can connect the battery terminals directly to the other battery and jump-start the car that way. Make sure the second battery is a sealed, maintenance-free battery, otherwise, you could spill battery acid from the second battery, and this could cause a fire or damage your engine. You should never turn any battery upside down, even spill-proof, maintenance-free ones. However, you can turn a maintenance-free, spill-proof battery on its side to do this procedure. You will need a long double-ended crescent wrench for this procedure.
- First, turn off all electronics, set the emergency brake, and raise the hood. Make sure your key is in the “on” position.
- Place the terminals of the second battery very close to the terminals of the dead battery in the car. Make sure the positive and negative terminals are lined up properly.
- Place one end of the double-ended crescent wrench on the positive terminal of the good battery, and then place it on the battery post of the dead battery connecting the two positive terminals. Your car should start immediately.
What If It’s Not the Battery’s Fault?
Sometimes, the reason why your car will not start is not the battery at all. One common problem is the starter can stick. In this case, you can gently tap it with something metal to release the starter, and it should start. Your first clue that this may be the case is when you try to turn the key on, it makes no noise at all. Your lights and instrument panel will come up, but there is no noise at all, not even a clicking sound when you try to start the car.
You can determine if you have a weak battery by turning on your headlights. Try to start the car. If the headlights dim when you try to start it, then you have a weak battery. If this is not the case, then this little starter trick may help solve the problem.
The starter will be in different locations on your car, depending on the make and model. The first thing you need to do is to locate the starter. You can consult your Owner’s Manual to find this information. When performing this method, make sure not to tap the electrical connection. This video shows you how to locate your starter and how to use this technique properly:
Have you enjoyed this tutorial? You have a few solutions for starting your car if you find yourself stranded without jumper cables, a starter pack, or a battery charger. These options are worth a try before you pick up your phone and go to the expense of calling a tow truck. Please feel free to let us know what you thought about this tutorial in the comments, and be sure to share this video if it gave you some information that might be useful to others.
Eric Strong works in the automotive repair industry more than 12 years. His work included repairing electrical systems in various vehicle systems. A hybrid electric car battery replacement experience expanded his understanding of automotive battery technology. Read More…