Can You Push Start an Automatic Car With a Dead Battery?

There’s one reality that every driver will face at some point. One day you might get back to your vehicle, only to realize you left the radio on and the battery has now died. If your car has an automatic transmission, you might be wondering whether you can push-start your vehicle.

It is not possible to push start a vehicle with an automatic transmission. This is due to the open clutch these vehicles utilize, which effectively prevents automatic cars from being push started. Instead, drivers of automatic cars with dead batteries will need to either jump start their battery or call for a tow truck or roadside assistance.

In this article, we’ll look at why it is not possible to push-start an automatic car with a dead battery – and what you can do in a situation like this. From jump-starting your car with another car using booster cables to using a portable jump starter, from calling a tow truck to calling for roadside assistance, we’ll look at all of your options!

Can You Push Start an Automatic Car?

When it comes down to getting around in this day and age, an automatic car is one of the best ways to do it. For instance, when you’re sitting in heavy traffic in your car with an automatic transmission, you won’t need to constantly change gears.

Add rain that’s heavier than the traffic to that scenario, and you’ll be glad you can keep both hands on the wheel in your automatic car! However, there’s one universal certainty every driver faces, regardless of the type of transmission their car uses: a dead battery.

In the event of a dead battery, a car with a manual transmission can be push started. Push starting – also referred to as bump starting – is a method used by many motorists to revive a dead battery. The method involves having one or more people push the car so that it gains momentum and the engine can subsequently be started.

Unfortunately, vehicles with automatic transmissions cannot be started using this method. With a manual car, the driver will be able to engage the clutch while the car is being push started. Automatic cars, on the other hand, utilize what is known as an open clutch, which prevents the car from being push started.

While push starting is highly convenient for drivers of manual cars, it will not work for those who drive cars with automatic transmissions. Instead, automatic car drivers will need to jump-start their vehicles in the event of a dead battery. Keep reading as we look at how you can do just that!

Can You Jump Start an Automatic Car’s Dead Battery?

As discussed above, it is not possible to push start vehicles with automatic transmissions. Perhaps the easiest way to revive a dead battery in an automatic car is to jump-start the car. To do this, you’ll need booster cables.

This is something every driver should own! If you don’t already have a pair, it’s easier than ever to purchase it online (see these Energizer Jumper Cables on Amazon). If you find yourself with a dead battery and no jumper cables, another driver will likely have one you can use to jump-start your vehicle!

In addition to jumper cables, you’ll need a car with a working battery! Not only that, but you’ll need to ensure that the other car’s battery does not have a voltage higher than your battery’s voltage. Luckily, a vast majority of cars use 12-volt batteries, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

When jump-starting your vehicle, both cars should be switched off. Car batteries all have a negative and a positive side. The red cable – which is standard in all jumper cables – should be connected to the positive terminals of both cars’ batteries. The black cables should be connected to the negative terminals.

Once you’ve properly connected the jumper cables, the working car should be started. The working car’s engine should not be revved during this process, which could take up to thirty minutes in some cases. The amount of time it takes to sufficiently recharge a dead battery could vary.

When your car’s battery has been charged for long enough using this method, and your car is able to crank, you can switch the working car off. With the other car switched off, you should now try starting your vehicle. If it does not start, you’ll need to charge your battery for longer.

If your vehicle starts, you’re ready to now disconnect the jumper cables. With the other vehicle still switched off, start by carefully removing the positive (red) cable first and then the negative (black) cable. These cables should not touch each other at any point while connected to a car.

Your vehicle should now be back up and running! If you’ve never jump-started a vehicle before and would like more guidance on the topic, this YouTube video from Stan Cravens visually demonstrates how to correctly attach jumper cables to jump-start your vehicle!

Alternative Ways to Start an Automatic Car With a Dead Battery

If your automatic car’s battery is dead and you don’t have booster cables on hand, there are a few more solutions for you!

Call for Roadside Assistance

If you’ve found yourself stranded with a dead battery, you could call for roadside assistance. While being covered for roadside assistance can often be quite costly, it can be a lifesaver in these types of situations!

If your battery has simply died due to being drained, they’ll be able to charge it up for you. Even better, if the battery needs to be swapped for a new one, your roadside assistance provider will likely be able to do it for you wherever you are.

Get Your Vehicle Towed

If you’ve found yourself stranded with a dead battery, with no booster cables and no roadside service to call, you can always have your vehicle towed! This will be a cheaper once-off expense in these situations.

Unfortunately, the tow truck driver will not be able to help you jump-start your battery. However, they’ll be able to either tow you home or to a nearby mechanic who can then diagnose the issue. This is a great option if you’re stranded with no way to jump-start your automatic car – especially if the issue is more serious than just a drained battery.

Invest in a Portable Jump Starter

If you don’t already have a portable jump starter, this option will not help if you’re already stranded with a dead battery. However, it’s a highly useful gadget that can save you in the event of your automatic car’s battery dying.

With this method, you’ll essentially be able to jump-start your car without the help of another vehicle. This is a great investment to make if you’re a driver of an automatic car and cannot simply push-start your vehicle. You’ll be able to keep your portable jump starter stowed away in your vehicle for whenever the day comes that you need it.


Unfortunately, when it comes to pushing starting a vehicle with a dead battery, this method will only help those driving cars with manual transmissions. In this article, we looked at the different options automatic car drivers have in the event of a dead battery.

The easiest option would be to jump-start the automatic car. This can either be done by connecting booster cables to a working vehicle or by using a portable jump starter. Alternatively, it is possible to call for roadside assistance or get your car towed to a mechanic.

You might also want to read: Do Car Batteries Charge While Idling?

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