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How to Jump Start A Car. Without Cables. Even If It Is Automatic.

I actually didn’t know how to jump start a car with jumper-cables until this morning.  Until today I have been unwittingly “jumping” cars without cables.  In this post, I am going to run through the basics (how to jump a car with cables – which was new to me), the junior varsity (how to jump a stick shift car without cables) and the varsity (how to jump an automatic car without cables – yes it can be done).

The Basic – I had never jumped a car with cables because I was always worried that I was going to get electrocuted or the battery would blow up.  The standard steps for this are below:

1)  Get a car that has a working battery and park it near the car that has the dead battery.  Turn the working car off.

2)  Connect the red (positive) jumper-cable to the positive side of the stalled battery.

3)  Connect the red (positive) jumper-cable to the positive side of the good battery.

4)  Connect the black (negative) jumper-cable to the negative side of the good battery.

5)  Connect the black (negative) jumper-cable to a metal surface on the car with the dead battery – the engine block is an OK place for this.

6)  Start the good car and run it for 2-3 minutes.  It actually helps to rev the engine if you feel the battery isn’t charging.  I say this from experience.  I once got a jump from a guy wearing only a pair of jean shorts and a cape (I live in California), who drove a tiny car and we only got mine to start after a few minutes of running the engine of the working car at high RPMs.  If you feel you are getting a weak transfer of power to the dead battery, try changing the location of the black jumper-cable in step #5.  If this cable is connected to the side of the car or a dirty piece of metal, the process won’t work well.

7)  Start the car with the dead battery.

8)  Remove the cables in reverse order.

9)  Keep the car with the battery that was dead running for about 30 minutes.  It helps to run the engine at high RPMs.

Junior Varsity – You can charge a car without jumper-cables.  This is typically done with stick shift cars, but I have done it with automatic cars too.  With a stick shift car, follow the instructions below:

1)  You will need to roll the car, so if it is at the top of a hill, great.  If not, you will have to find someone or a few people to push it, since you will have to be in the car to start it.  Remember, the steering wheel and brakes do rely on electrical systems, so don’t roll down a very steep hill.

2)  Take off the hand-brake, release the foot-break and push down the clutch to get the car rolling.

3)  Once the car gets going to about 5 miles per hour, try starting it by turning the key in the ignition with the clutch down.

4)  If that doesn’t work, while the car is rolling, turn the key in the ignition as you release the clutch into gear and depress the accelerator into gear.  You will want to give it a lot of gas, so it is recommended that you put the car into second gear when you push down on the accelerator.  This has never failed me.

Varsity – Contrary to popular belief, you can jump-start an automatic car without jumper-cables.  It’s been documented and I managed to do it in a McDonald’s parking lot in Vallejo, California.  The principles are the same as with a stick shift car:

1)  Again, you will need to roll the car, so find a place and the right bodies to get the car in motion to about 5 miles per hour.

2)  Release the hand-brake and foot-brake, and put the car in second gear.

3)  Once the car gets up to about 5 miles per hour, try starting the car by turning the ignition.

4)  If that doesn’t work, keep the car in second gear and push down the gas as you turn the ignition.

Let me know if you have any trouble!

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50 Comments Post a comment
  1. fieroboom #

    I realize this post is a little over a year old, but I wanted to drop by and say that roll-starting a vehicle with an automatic transmission is NOT that simple when it is incapable of starting on it’s own. The reason is because an auto normally uses fluid to transfer the engine’s power, until it reaches overdrive, then the torque converter locks up to become a solid link. The ONLY way you can roll start an auto is if you have already installed a manual lockup switch. A lot of hot rodders do this when they perform custom transmission swaps. Then, to roll-start, it’s just a matter of rolling the auto, and throwing the switch to engage the clutch.

    March 8, 2010
  2. jessica #

    Is it true you can jump start a car without cables ‘just like that’ by opening the plastic cover under the steering wheel, pulling out two wires and striking them together like a match?
    Or have I been watching too many movies.

    March 23, 2010
    • Anonymous #

      No, that is how you start it without having the key!

      March 30, 2013
  3. P #

    Jessica wat u speak of is not jump starting but rather just bypassing the key ignition which cant be done with cars today.but in the movies they show guy reaches underneath the dashboard pulls out some wires cuts em open, and after few sparks, wrooom goes the engine is just a normal car start.

    April 26, 2010
    • newtome #

      That’s right, by rolling the car you are effectively by-passing the need for the battery to be functional by going straight to the alternator. You still need the key to the car though. I didn’t make that clear in the original post.

      March 27, 2011
  4. david #

    I know the easy way to do it….. 1st take the bat off, 2nd take it to a napa store,3rd tell some one to recharge it. And put it back on……wala it works now and enjoy ride…….8 )

    September 27, 2010
    • Anonymous #

      i have done this too with my automatic car,just yesterday, how long will the battery last? im afraid to take my car for a long dride since my battery jas just been brought back to life, kind of thing…

      July 11, 2011
      • Anonymous #

        Driving a car will only charge the battery

        July 19, 2012
      • Anonymous #

        Not true. All electronics come off the battery. If you’re alternator is shot then you don’t replace charge. How long the battery will last is an unanswerable question as there are too many variables. But when my alternator failed I was able to strike my van, drive 20 miles, pick up the new unit, restart engine and drive 20 miles home to fit it. With starting an engine being the most power sapping activity, I’d say it did well.

        April 21, 2013
  5. Noluck #

    I had to do it to my friends car the other day which is an automatic. So I put it in drive and started pushing it for a bit then tried starting it and nothing happened not even the weird noise the engine makes when it can’t start. Any ideas ?

    December 10, 2010
    • newtome #

      Try putting it in second gear. If that doesn’t work, put it in first. It actually has to be in a real gear.

      March 27, 2011
  6. jack #

    will not work for an automatic

    March 4, 2011
    • newtome #

      Did you have the car in gear (i.e. not in neutral, park or drive)?

      March 27, 2011
  7. I’ve been researching roll starting cars with automatic transmissions and found your post. Here’s what I know:

    Chevrolets built in the 1960s with Powerglide automatic transmissions would roll start at about 60 MPH– something only teen aged drivers were crazy enough to try.

    Years ago I bought a used Jeep DJ-5 (Postal Jeep, right hand drive, not a CJ-5) which had a Borg-Warner automatic transmission. I roll started that jeep for months on end. Park it on a hill, put it in “Drive” release the parking brake and roll down the hill until it started running under power– usually about 3-5mph.

    But it was built in the 1960s and I have been taught for years that modern automatics won’t roll start. But now you’re saying you can roll start a car with an automatic transmission.

    My guess is that there MIGHT still be a few automatic transmissions being built that will roll start and I’m wondering of the makes and models of automatic transmission cars you have managed to roll start.

    And I’m thinking I go out and test my Tercel and Dodge to see if either will roll start.

    April 26, 2011
    • newtome #

      Nissan Altima ~2000, in second gear. Not going too fast, in a McDonald’s parking lot in Vallejo, California.

      May 2, 2011
  8. Okay, so I just did a little test.

    1991 Toyota Tercel WILL roll start in “drive” at 20-25 MPH and faster.

    Will not roll start in “low” or “2nd” at any speed.

    It’s late, maybe I’ll try my ’88 Dodge Ram 150 Pick-up tomorrow.

    April 26, 2011
  9. Dave #

    You are an idiot

    September 27, 2011
  10. Anonymous #

    LOL!! XD

    October 21, 2011
  11. Anonymous #

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    hi
    enhlp

    November 15, 2011
  12. Auto tech! #

    Last time.i checked the auto gear leaver is not conected to tranny! hence why they call it auto ! only thing connected.is p for park! Thats it! so when u say put it in second gear its wont to into anything- ita called a inhibitor swich! so keep pushing your auto”s down hills! Hope u have good break pads when u do!

    December 5, 2011
    • Auto tech!,
      At first I didn’t believe it either but guess what? It works on some cars. I tested roll starting on an old Jeep with a Borq-Warner Automatic– it works at 5 MPH!
      On my Dodge pick-up with auto tranny– it doesn’t work.
      On my Mercury Marquis– it doesn’t work.
      On my Toyota Tercel with auto trans– it roll starts at 20 MPH!

      I would encourage more people to test their own cars. Of course, I wouldn’t wait until the car won’t start to find out if it will roll start. All that huffing and puffing without knowing seems so hard.

      And remember: the key must be in the on position or you’ll be unable to steer the car.

      And Auto tech! You’re showing your young age and lack of experience when it comes to automobiles as many not so new cars with automatic transmissions are not electrically shifted and do have mechanical connections between the shifter and the transmission. But you young whippersnappers and dealership wrench benders always think you know it all so it’s to be expected.

      December 5, 2011
  13. d #

    use battery from good car. take out and put in car that wont start. start it. take out battery and car will stay running without battery in it for a few minutes (alternater will keep charge). you ll have enough time to put dead battery in car and connect up. keep car running and alternater will re charge battery. put good battery back in the car it came from. both parties drive off and the one who didnt know what was going on and thought that someones stuck without cables drives off saying ” damn why didnt i think of that” thats beyond varsity. thats pro

    January 18, 2012
    • Anonymous #

      no good if the car that wont start is diesel and the other petrol

      July 31, 2012
      • True, also, if the alternator is the reason the battery is dead then the car will cut off as soon as you unhook the fresh battery. But hey, at least you’ll know.

        July 31, 2012
  14. Anonymous #

    So so gay you fucking retard the title is how to jump a car with out jumper cables fucking moron

    February 16, 2012
    • Dingle #

      Did you read the page properly, or too moronic to scroll?

      February 18, 2012
  15. I have try on my 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan it did not work. Have anyone else try it on similar car or other make and models of different years?

    March 1, 2012
    • See above: “At first I didn’t believe it either but guess what? It works on some cars. I tested roll starting on an old Jeep with a Borq-Warner Automatic– it works at 5 MPH!
      On my Dodge pick-up with auto tranny– it doesn’t work.
      On my Mercury Marquis– it doesn’t work.
      On my Toyota Tercel with auto trans– it roll starts at 20 MPH!”

      March 1, 2012
  16. michael #

    Thanks that helps

    March 8, 2012
  17. Chris #

    I can say that if your automatic gear box is electronically controlled you have no hope in hell. I just tried it, cannot put the thing on second gear without the computer killing the ignition.

    June 19, 2012
  18. Anonymous #

    what if you dont have a reserve good battry, what if you are in the middle of nowhere? and no one is there to help you.
    any ideas people?

    thanks,
    Sutum

    November 29, 2012
    • recyclebill #

      Then you’d best have lots of survival gear, food and water and perhaps a flare gun packed in your car.

      November 29, 2012
  19. sajid #

    can it b push forward if it is in 2nd gear in auto transmission?

    December 19, 2012
  20. Anonymous #

    what a load of crap!!!!

    April 2, 2013
  21. U must be smart in all these thing it worked !

    May 12, 2013
  22. Anonymous #

    yea i agree WILL NOT WORK FOR AUTO TRANS. i went down the side of a mnt. switching from 1-2-3-d and even N and would not turn over. its a bust

    May 31, 2013
  23. Anonymous #

    Im curious in an automatic what exactly is 2nd gear? I mean obviously your 2nd gear change,but how do you put it in 2nd is what im confused by.

    June 29, 2013
  24. Bobbi #

    I guess there is no such answer for me, but here is my problem. Yesterday I tried to start my van and the battery was dead. Barely made a clicking noise the first time and nothing after that. Battery only two years old & still under warranty, but in April this year, my alt went out and drained the battery. Had alt replaced and all has been well until yesterday. My son either left the door ajar (which usually doesn’t drain the battery) or the battery may have been damaged when the alt went out. One other thing.. We had a horrid heat spell about 11 days ago. 100+ temps for about 9 days. I have heard that can affect a battery. Now, besides having a dead battery, here is my problem: I only have this one vehicle. I only have a couple neighbors, one Russian and the other Mexican, neither speak good enough English for me to ask for help and both are very unfriendly. No family or friends in the area as I just moved up here. I have no batt charger or jumper cables, and I have called every auto parts and battery supplier listed and none will deliver a battery or assistance.. I have no RSA and the one tow company I called, which only is only about 5 miles from me, wants $75 to come jump start me, which I will have to do if I can’t figure something else out, and I am really low on funds right now. Maybe you guys know some old trick to get me going or even know of a business that will deliver a battery to a gal at all, let alone without charging her an arm and leg.. I can install it. I saw a video on youtube of a fellow charging his with two wall transformers of equal voltage and speaker wire, but the sound was so garbled, I couldn’t understand the instructions, just noticed the subtitle saying not to charge this way for more than an hour to prevent damage to diode in battery. Any Suggestions?

    July 15, 2013
  25. Gerry #

    Reving a car connected to a dead car by jumper cable is not a good idea. Especially for high end cars you could fry a computer.

    July 26, 2013
  26. Gerry #

    You can’t start an automatic in 2nd gear. It’s called neutral safety switch.

    July 26, 2013
  27. cunt #

    cunt

    November 2, 2013
  28. Gurk #

    Was sitting in town waiting on someone and to beat boredom, I started listening to my car stereo. Three hours straight in a parked car, and those hours simply showed how daft I am. My battery went flat and that is when I received the call that that someone had arrived. First, the stereo just went off and I suspected something was wrong. On igniting, all I heard was a click, and nothing more. I mulled over jumpstarting the car by getting a few guys to push it, but I was worried cos my car is automatic transmissioned, and that is how I bumped on to this site.

    I was lucky because I was in town, so I simply asked a rickshaw guy to use his battery to start my car for about a dollar (the beauty of being in Africa). We had no jumper cables, but he smartly used wheel spanners to connect the terminals and vrooom. The car ignited.

    I will still try to jumpstart it by drifting down a slope and will post my outcome.

    My car is a Toyota Passo.

    November 3, 2013
  29. Mark #

    Automatic transmission roll start worked for me on a 2007 Nissan Versa. Thanks for the tip!

    December 6, 2013
  30. mrc #

    I’d strongly suggest reversing the way you hook up the battery cables. Go red from good car to bad car, then black from bad car to red.
    The reason is the last cable you hook up has a tendency to spark. An empty (or charging battery) can release explosive gasses. You do now want a spark there, so make sure the last connection is made on the good battery.

    It will probably never go wrong if you do it the other way as you described, but better safe then sorry I think.

    December 18, 2013
    • mrc #

      “Black from bad car to good”. . I made a typo mistake with my above comment.

      December 18, 2013
  31. Anonymous #

    Mate u r full of shit

    March 31, 2014
  32. Well well, no one has thought of the obviouse, drive the car at 60 down a hill on a freeway, tollway or highway. Put the car into neautral, turn engine of (it can’t be in drive or gear because this will keep the car running) wait till the car turns of, put key to on, put in drive, press eccelerator, if nothing happens try 2nd then first then try drive and turn the key, it will not engage the battery because of the inhibitor switch so you keep trying till you run out of gears and key positions and foot on accelerator of off accelerator. If it works, decease the speed until you reach a non start threshold. List what car you have and what speed you can start it I auto and the exact key, gear and throttle positions please.

    April 8, 2014
  33. ok really not directly related to the topic but if I can learn about what is going on with my car that would be a relief. ok sometimes when im driving 55-60 on the highway my car just shuts off for no reason and not really knowing all the correct things to do in this situation and in a panic the first time it happened I just turned the key again without turning it back or messing with the gear shift and it went right back on. in all the miles I have driven this car a 1990 ford crown Victoria this has only happened about 5 times just out of the blue. car is immaculate with just over 70 thousand miles so I didn’t really too much about this. everyone I have asked has no definite answers so I prettymuch just came to the conclusion that im riding with private malone

    May 15, 2014

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