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How to Push-Start a Car With a Dead Battery

by Contributor

Cars with manual (stick shift) transmissions can be started even when the battery or the starter motor isn't working. Here's how you do it.

Step 1

Make sure that the problem is either the battery or the starter: If the engine cranks ("rrr-rrr-rrr") when you turn the key, then the problem isn't the starter or the battery.

Step 2

Plan to have at least one person sitting in the driver's seat and one person pushing. Mid-size and large cars require two or three people to push, depending on the strength of the people and whether or not the car is parked on an incline.

Step 3

Turn off all accessories (radio, wipers, lamps).

Step 4

Turn the key to the "on" position.

Step 5

Depress the clutch pedal with your foot.

Step 6

Put the transmission in first or second gear.

Step 7

Release the hand brake and the foot brake.

Step 8

Note that the people pushing need to get the car rolling as fast as they can. This works best down a hill or an incline.

Release the clutch pedal while giving the engine a little gas with the gas pedal once the car is moving about as fast as you can run. The engine should start.

Tips

  • Cars can be push-started going backwards, too! Just put the transmission in reverse instead of first or second and push the car backwards.
  • A car with a completely dead battery often cannot be push-started.

Warnings

  • One person can push-start a car that is parked on a hill, but this can be very unsafe as you must jump in the car after getting it rolling, and there is a chance you may lose control of the car.
  • Certain manufacturers of specific models do not recommend starting your car this way. Check your owner's manual for warnings.

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