It’s everyone's worst nightmare. In the middle of nowhere, no other cars are around and you jump into the driver's seat to start the car and nothing. No turn over, no lights, no radio, a complete, big, fat zero. Your battery is dead and it’s going to be hours, perhaps days before anyone can come and assist you. In cases like this it’s handy to know how to get your car started without jumper cables or having another car around to help you out.
Now, before we dive into how to start a car with a dead battery without another car battery there’s one very important thing you need to know. Not all methods listed below to start your car when it’s got a dead battery will work on all types of cars.
A quick note on automatic cars
Some of the methods listed below will only work on manual cars so if you’re driving an automatic you really only have three choices to get your car started again:-
- Jumper cables
- Call RACQ
- Call a tow truck
Unfortunately if you have an automatic car and find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat battery, your choices are very limited.
How to push start your car if your battery is dead
If your battery still lights up the dash lights but won’t crank the engine, there’s a good chance a push start (also called a rolling start) may just start your engine. As always, it's essential to make sure you stay safe when trying this, and it’s always easier if you have a friend with you for assistance – plus they can do most of the pushing!
Before you start, you will want to make sure your vehicle is either on a flat piece of road or, even better, a slight downhill decline. Here’s what you will need to do:-
- Jump in your vehicle and make sure your handbrake is on
- Turn on the ignition
- Push the clutch in and put your car into 2nd gear (1st gear isn’t advised as it may cause the vehicle to kick or buck harshly when starting)
- Put your foot on the foot brake and release the handbrake
- Slowly remove your foot from the brake whilst your friends start pushing the vehicle
- Once you hit around 8-10 kmph, release the clutch, and hopefully, your engine should start!
- Buy your friends a drink!
Note - If this doesn’t work, you may not have been travelling fast enough for the car to start, so try getting a little more speed up.
Take a look at this video to see how this is done: https://youtu.be/wx-NAlSqISg
Jumpstart your car with a rope
This method is convenient if you don’t have a long stretch of road available to complete a push start, you’re by yourself or in an area where a push start isn’t a viable option. For this method of starting a car with a dead battery without another car or jumper cables, you will need a length of rope and a jack.
Please note this method will only work for smaller, manual cars that are front-wheel drive.
- Safety first – make sure you apply the handbrake, and the car is on a flat surface
- Jack the car up, so there is a 5-10cm gap between the bottom of the tyre and the ground
- Shift the car into 3rd gear
- Turn the key in the ignition to ‘on’
- Wrap the length of rope around the wheel in a clockwise direction (it’s good to have at least 3-4 metres of rope for this)
- Leave a section of the rope free for you to pull on
- Grab the rope with both hands and pull as hard as you can
Hopefully, this will now start the engine!
Safety Notes: You need to be aware of some dangers with this method. If you don’t leave enough of a gap between the tyre and the ground, the tyre could touch the ground as you pull the rope causing the tyre to grip, making the car jump off the jack and move forward suddenly. Also, if your handbrake isn’t on or in proper working condition, the car will likely move and jump off the jack.
Take a look at this video to see how this is done: https://youtu.be/_0naTvrigBY
As with many things in life, prevention is always better than the cure, so it’s better not to get a flat battery in the first place; however, sometimes this can’t be avoided (if you leave headlights or an interior light on, for example). Just in case, it’s worth reading our blog Telltale signs your car battery is about to die to help you avoid being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat battery.
If you require expert advice on car batteries, feel free to contact Allstar Batteries at any stage with your questions.