Can You Push Start an Automatic Car with a Dead Battery? 5 easy methods to start your car

We discuss if it is possible to push start an automatic car and five easy methods to start an automatic transmission car

Can you push start an automatic car with a dead battery? There is a lot of confusion around this subject. We explain why you can’t push start a car with an automatic transmission.

By Maurice Rodriguez
September 28, 2022

Most modern vehicles with an automatic transmission cannot be push-started because most automatics have an open clutch system and are therefore not in ‘gear’ meaning the transmission will not turn the engine and spins freely.

A manual transmission has a clutch that can be engaged manually by ‘popping’ the clutch when the car is pushed. This turns the transmission, which in turn starts the engine.

Automatics do not engage the gears until the torque converter has built enough pressure to engage the gears, which would need the car to be pushed to about 35mph. This is far beyond the ability of a person but, could be achieved by using another car. Although possible, it is highly discouraged and not advised.

But, fear not we have 5 easy solutions to start an automatic car that will have you back on the road in no time at all.

5 Car Electrical Problems That Lead to a Dead Battery

Did you leave your headlights on?
  • Headlights

Your car’s battery could be dead if you leave your headlights on for too long after the car has been shut off. Most newer vehicles have a chime or sound to alert the driver the lights are still on. Some cars will even turn the lights off for you after a certain period of time.

  • Parasitic Draw

A parasitic draw is when an accessory (like the radio, dome lights, or alarm) continues to draw electricity after the car has been shut off. These are components that typically don’t use a lot of electricity but if left on the car is off it will continue to draw electricity from the battery.

Since the car is off and the alternator cannot recharge the battery your car’s battery will eventually be completely drained.

  • Battery cables

When was the last time you checked your battery cables to see if they have excessive corrosion? If your battery cables are loose or corroded, they may not be making proper contact to provide power to your starter. Check your cables and make sure they are tight and clean.

  • Alternator

Your alternator may not be charging your battery and causing your battery to be drained. If your battery is tested and can hold a charge but keeps discharging your alternator may be at fault. Have a mechanic check your alternator for issues.

  • Extreme Weather Temperatures

Freezing weather or hot summer heat could adversely affect your car’s battery. Freezing winter days will discharge a battery much faster than normal and cause the battery to hold a charge for as long. Start your car periodically when cold temperatures abound and your car will start when you need it the most.

How To Start An Automatic Car With A Dead Battery?

Every driver has experienced the dreaded sound of clicking or silence when attempting to start your car. It’s an awful feeling especially if you’re running late in the morning or you’re in the middle of nowhere. Here are 5 tips for starting an automatic car:

  • Jump start your car – Requires another car
  • Portable Jumpstart box
  • Trickle charger
  • Buy new battery
  • Call roadside assistance or tow truck

5 ways to start an automatic car with a dead battery

Car Battery with Jumper Cables giving load to another car battery.

Jump Start a Car With Another Car

The most common way to start a car with a dead battery is to jump-start your car using another car. You can do this with a set of jumper cables and another car. This is a very simple process but there are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to do this.

  1. Park the vehicles near each other – The vehicles need to be close enough that the jumper cables can reach the battery. They can be next to each other or nose to nose. Make sure you leave some room between the vehicles in case the cars move unexpectedly.
  2. Both vehicles should be off – The ignition keys should be in the off position and the parking brakes should be engaged in both cars to avoid any sudden movements from causing injury or damage to the vehicles.
  3. Open both hoods and locate terminals – Once the cars are in place open the hoods and locate the battery terminals. Take notice of where the positive and negative terminals are located. The most common way to identify the terminals is ‘red’ and ‘black for positive and negative or ‘+’ or ‘-‘
  4. Attach red clamps to the positive terminals – Attach the red clamp to the dead car’s battery and then attach the other end to the working car’s battery terminal
  5. Attach black clamps to the negative terminals– The black clamp on the working car to the negative terminal. On the dead car place the negative clamp on an unpainted bare metal bolt on the engine block. This will ensure your car’s battery is grounded to the vehicle. 
  6. Start working vehicle – Start the working vehicle and let it idle for a few minutes to get the battery up to charge.
  7. Start the dead vehicle – If you have done everything right you should be able to start your car. You may need to have the working car rev its engine while the dead car attempts to start to get a good jump.
  8. Disconnect the negative clamps first– Reverse the order in which you attached the jumper cable clamps by starting with the negative terminals. Make sure the cable clamps do not touch as they will spark and could cause an injury.
  9. Disconnect the positive clamps second – Remove the positive clamps from the dead vehicle and then the working vehicle.
  10. Drive the car to recharge the battery – Drive the dead car for a short distance to ensure the alternator has had time to recharge your battery.

Portable Jump-Start Box

A portable jump-start box is a very handy accessory to have handy should an emergency arise. If you happen to get stranded where there are no other motorists around a jump-start box may be a lifesaver. If you enjoy the great outdoors and like to take the path less traveled the unique features of these handy gadgets might be worth it to you.

Trickle Charger

A trickle charger won’t save the day if you are in hurry and need to get going right away. But, it can prevent you from having issues if your vehicle sits for a long time. Car batteries discharge as they sit for long periods. Trickle chargers can slowly, and safely charge your battery if your vehicle is being stored for the winter or season.

A trickle charger is a battery charger that plugs into an electrical outlet and as the name implies charges your battery one trickle at a time. Enough so that it will be fully charged when you need it.

If you happen to have time to charge your battery overnight, using a trickle charger is a good way to ensure you have plenty of power.

Call for Roadside Assistance

Tow truck hauling a wrecked car away in winter.

If you are stranded in the middle of nowhere or you’re not comfortable jumping your car by yourself you can always call for roadside assistance. Most roadside assistance programs have a service where they can jump-start your car.

If you aren’t comfortable you can attach battery cables safely your best bet may be to call for assistance. We don’t all carry jumper cables so this option might work best for you.

Get Your Vehicle Towed

Sometimes vehicles will not start no matter what you try. In these times, you are going to need a tow. A tow truck driver can give you a jump but, if the car still doesn’t start you need to get the car home or to a mechanic for service.

6 Car Battery Chargers that could save the day

Car battery chargers come in lots of different configurations and battery types. We have rounded up the best battery jump boxes, the best trickle charger, and jumper cables that will help you get your car started in no time.

Best Deluxe Battery Charger

DEWALT Digital Power Station Jump Starter – with a 700A of starting amps the Dewalt Power station will get your car started in no time. It features many extras that may be worth the price tag of $150.

This unit includes an air compressor to inflate tires, an alternator tester, flashlights, two USB ports, and can be recharged using a cigarette lighter outlet or AC outlet. You will need an extension cord to charge, which is not included. Other jump boxes also do not include an extension cord to charge.

Easiest to use

Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry – Don’t let the fact that the Clore Jump-N-Carry seems simple fool you. This jump box has everything you need to get your car started. Just attach the clamps to your battery and start your car.

It has 425 cranking amps, heavy-duty jumper cables, and a built-in voltmeter to check the battery status of the jump box and can also be charged using a 12v car outlet or an extension (also not included).

Best Budget Battery Starter

NEXPOW 2000 Car Jump Starter – this unit uses a lithium-ion battery to jump-start your car with 2000A peak amps. We like the Nexpow because it includes a flashlight with multiple modes, USB quick charging, and can be charged using a Type-C USB wall outlet to keep the battery back charged.

This unit is also only $60, which makes it a great value. It also comes with a nice carrying case to keep it all together.

Best Heavy Duty Battery Charger for Diesel Engines

GOOLOO 800A Peak Car Jump Starter – We really like all the features of this jump box. This jump box by Gooloo can be ready in as soon as 3 minutes to jump your car’s battery. It fully charges in less than an hour. Once fully charged the battery lasts 24 months on one charge. That’s amazing!

This jump box can also jump heavy-duty diesel engines as large as 10 liters. It also has a large digital display, flashlight, USB ports, and is weather-resistant. 

Best Lithium-Ion Battery Starter

NOCO Boost Plus GB40 – is a lithium-ion battery jump-start box with the ability to jump-start 6-liter gas and 3-liter diesel engines. It is a very basic jump box but is fairly small and simple to use. Just attach your charging clamps to your battery, turn the unit on, and start your car.

It has a flashlight, USB ports to charge your devices and is weather-proof against light water and dust. It also comes with a fabric carrying case to keep all the components together.

Best Trickle Charger

Battery Tender Plus – while this battery charger won’t jump-start your vehicles, it will keep you from draining your battery when you store your car, motorcycle, or ATV.

The Battery Tender is a very simple charger that has an advanced charging system that will fully charge your battery and then puts itself in maintenance mode to keep your battery from discharging without damaging your battery. It can also detect if you connect the charger incorrectly or avoid sparking if you happen to touch the clamps together.

Best Car Jumper Cables

Energizer Jumper Cables – These are the most popular jumper cables on Amazon. They are 16ft long so they can reach just about any car even if they are parked end to end.

The cables are tangle-free, and have a thick vinyl coating to protect your hands, and carrying case. Energizer also includes a 2-year no-hassle warranty.


Having to deal with cars that won’t start is always a hassle. But, if you are prepared and knowledgeable you can be ready for any situation your car throws at you.

Next time you have to jump-start a car hopefully you will have one of these jump boxes or a friend with jumper cables to help in your time of need.

We are all things cars.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *