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How to Start an Automatic Car With a Dead Battery

by Jody L. Campbell

If a battery dies in a standard transmission car, you can jump the battery by rolling the car downhill and popping the clutch. It's a tricky procedure and the right conditions are needed to be successful, but it can be done. An automatic transmission car with a dead battery is a dead car waiting for a tow truck or roadside service. However, you can jump a dead car battery in your automatic car for a lot less than you think and you won't need help from anyone else.

Open the hood and retrieve the jump starter pack. These starter packs need to be charged by plugging them in, but most will have a life indicator light that you can monitor.

Attach the red clamp of the jump starter pack to the positive terminal of the battery. In applications where the battery is not located in the engine compartment, locate the positive jump post in the engine compartment. Refer to the owners manual for assistance.

Attach the black clamp of the jump starter pack to the negative terminal of the battery only if the jump starter pack has an on/off button. If the jump starter pack does not have an on/off button, it would be safer to attach the black clamp to a non-moving metal piece away from the battery to prevent sparks.

Be sure the cables and clamps to the jump starter pack are not in the way of any moving engine parts when the car is started.

Turn the power switch to the jump starter pack on (if equipped with one) and start the car. Turn the power switch to the jump starter pack to off (if equipped with one) and remove the black clamp first, then the red, and close the hood.

Tip

  • Keep the jump starter pack properly charged before taking important trips. Reasons why you would not be successful jump starting a dead battery with a jump starter pack could be the battery is very old, very weak, has a dead cell (or more) in it, or has corroded terminal ends and is not getting a clean charge from the alternator. Making sure the battery terminal ends are clean is very important. A dying alternator can also kill the battery quickly. Corroded or dirty battery terminals will also not allow the jump starter pack to make a clean connection to the battery to jump it properly. If it really matters and the trip is really important, some preventative maintenance would be the best medicine. Have the battery and charging system checked before you leave. Make sure the battery terminals are cleaned and have them coated with a spray protectant. And most importantly, make sure the jump starter pack is charged properly and not left in the "On" position if equipped.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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