How to Start an Automatic Car With a Dead Battery (4 Ways)

Automatic cars have made driving easier for scores of people. However, it’s essential to know how to manage some of the mechanical challenges you may face when driving an automatic car. For instance, you may wonder how to start an automatic car with a dead battery.

Here’s how to start an automatic car with a dead battery:

  • Use a portable battery charger to charge your battery.
  • Jump start your car’s battery.
  • Change your car’s battery.
  • Call a roadside assistance or tow company.

Although you can start a car that has a dead battery if it has a manual transmission, you cannot start an automatic car by pushing it. You are not stranded though, and this article provides you with step-by-step instructions for starting your automatic car.

Ways how to start an automatic car with a dead battery.

1. Use a Portable Battery Charger to Charge Your Battery

This is far and away the easiest and least costly solution. Should you have a portable battery charger available, you can simply charge your automatic car’s battery to get it to start. To charge your battery, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the charger to the battery. The battery charger will come with cables. You’ll need to attach the positive clamp to the positive side of your battery and the negative to the opposing end of your battery.
  2. Set the charger. Choose the way you want to dispatch power to your battery – you can choose to either surge power in or trickle it in. Trickling the power in will ensure that the battery charge lasts for a longer time.
  3. Start the charger. Once you have set the type of charging, start the charger and allow it to run. Most chargers will switch off automatically.
  4. Disconnect the charger and start your car.

If your car doesn’t start, you may have to charge the battery for a little more time. Try charging it for another 30 minutes and start your car again.

2. Jump Start Your Car’s Battery

Most drivers do not carry a battery charge with them on every trip, so the most common way of restarting your automatic car is to jump-start the battery, which involves connecting the dead battery to another battery using jumper cables.

Jump starting involves dealing with currents, so you must follow steps to jump-start your car safely. Here are the steps to jump-starting your automatic car.

Locate Appropriate Jumper Cables

Jumper cables are used to transfer the energy from a functioning battery to a dead battery. Your car tool kit should always have a high-quality pair of jumper cables, which are electric cables that have alligator clips that connect two batteries together.

Find a Charged Battery

To jump-start your dead battery, you’ll need to find a live battery with the same voltage as your dead battery. Typically, you will find a live battery in another car. Park the running car parallel to the other and shut off the engine before attaching the jumper cables.

Connect Jumper Cables to Both Batteries

To identify the positive terminal, look for a plus sign or the word ‘POS.’ Attach one of the red alligator clips to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Attach the other red alligator clip to the positive side of the other car’s battery.

Find the black alligator clip and attach it to the negative terminal of the other car’s battery. Look for the negative sign to identify the negative terminal. The negative terminal may also have an ‘OV’ or ‘GND’ sign on it. Then, attach the black clip to an unpainted strip of metal.

Start the Cars

Start the car with the working battery and run the engine for a few minutes. Then try to start your automatic car. If your automatic car still doesn’t start, run the working car for a little more time.

Drive Your Car

Once your car starts running, drive it for at least a kilometer to ensure that the battery is sufficiently charged. It’s important to note that if your battery is at the end of its life, the car may not start even after jump-starting it, which indicates that you need a new battery.

3. Change Your Car’s Battery

If charging and jump-starting your battery doesn’t work, you’ll likely need to replace your battery. Changing your battery is a reasonably technical exercise. So, you must be confident in this level of car maintenance. If you’re not confident, it’s better to take your car into a garage than risk doing it wrong.

To change your battery, follow these steps:

  1. Put on a thick pair of gloves. These will protect you from any currents if you come into contact with an exposed wire.
  2. Ensure that you have the correct replacement battery. The replacement battery should be the same size and voltage as your old battery.
  3. Turn your car engine off.
  4. Disconnect and remove the old battery from the battery terminal.
  5. Clean the inside of the battery slot by wiping it out with a clean cloth.
  6. Put the new battery into the slot keeping the battery upright at all times.
  7. Replace the battery restraints to secure in place.
  8. Connect the battery terminal wires to the battery, matching the positive and negative wires to the negative and positive posts on the battery.
  9. Start your car and drive it for at least 15 minutes to ensure your new battery is working correctly.

Some of the signs that your battery needs changing are:

  • Your car isn’t starting.
  • The engine takes some time to warm up.
  • The lights of your car are dim even at their highest power.
  • You’re continuously getting the smell of gas in your car.
  • The battery is leaking or worn down.
  • If the battery case appears worn down.

Batteries should be replaced every 3-5 years. Even if your battery is not showing signs of wear and tear, you should replace it if it’s more than five years old. Not replacing old batteries will put added strain on your car’s engine, which can be a hazard.

4. Call a Roadside Assistance or Tow Company

If you don’t have the right equipment on hand or find it challenging to start your car with the methods above, you may have to call roadside assistance who can offer help in various ways:

  • They can tow your car. If needed, they can tow your car to a garage where you can find a replacement battery.
  • They can assess your car. You may find that it isn’t a dead battery that’s causing the problem.
  • They can offer you a jump start or charge your battery using a portable battery charger.

Keep in mind that roadside assistance does not come cheap. Some manufacturers offer one to two years of free roadside assistance in your car’s warranty, though it’s unlikely that you’ll need to utilize it when your car is new. To help reduce these potential costs down the road, look for car insurance that includes roadside assistance in their coverage plans. 

Can You Start an Automatic Car by Pushing It?

You can’t start an automatic car by pushing it like you can a manual car. This is because the clutch and engine of an automatic car require a working battery to function. If the battery of an automatic car is dead, the only way to start the car is to charge or replace the battery. 

The only way you can push start an automatic car is if it’s an old model. Some automatic cars built in the 1980s and 1990s can be push-started as they have different mechanics than more modern ones.

As a general rule, automatic cars can’t be push-started.

Battery Chargers & Jumper Cables

Having a battery charger and some jumper cables on hand can really come in handy. Not to mention that these tools ultimately pay for themselves in just one or two uses, saving you from costly mechanic fees. Here are some of the best battery chargers and jumper cables available on Amazon.com:

Schumacher Battery Charger

The Schumacher Battery Charger can be used for a range of different vehicles, including cars and trucks. It has two power modes; a 40 amp quick boost and a 200 amp engine start. It also has an auto voltage detection feature that’ll ensure you charge your battery with the correct voltage.

Noco Genius 1 Battery Charger

The Noco Genius 1 Battery Charger is a small device that can be used as a charger, a battery maintainer, and a trickler. It’s compatible with a range of different vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, and even boats.

Hulkman Alpha 85 Battery Charger

The Hulkman Alpha 85 Battery Charger offers high speed charging capabilities. It’s capable of charging your battery from 0-100 in under 1.5 hours. Plus, the company offers 2 years of warranty and unlimited technical support.

Energizer Jumper Cables

All drivers should keep a set of jumper cables in their car. We like the Energizer Jumper Cables (available on Amazon.com) because they have excellent versatility, come with a carrying case, and have a two-year warranty.

Amazon Basics Jumper Cable

Another great option also available on Amazon is the Amazon Basics Jumper Cable. This is a pocket friendly set of cables, which has heavy duty alligator clips and extremely flexible cables.  It can be used for a range of different vehicles and comes in different lengths.

Final Thoughts

There are several ways you can start an automatic car with a dead battery, including jump-starting, charging, or changing the battery. However, if none of these measures work, or if you do not have the necessary equipment, you should call roadside assistance.

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