How to Start an Automatic Car with a Dead Battery

Most people know that if they have a vehicle with a standard transmission then they can ‘jump start’ that vehicle by placing the vehicle in second gear and then getting the vehicle to roll at about five miles per hour. Once that vehicle is rolling t five miles per hour the person in the driver’s seat can quickly take their foot off of the clutch pedal and the vehicle will generally crank. Automatic transmissions cannot be started in this same manner.

How to Start an Automatic Car with a Dead Battery

The majority of all vehicles sold today have automatic transmissions instead of the standard transmissions. The automatic transmissions are easier to operate especially if you live in a large town or city where you have to do a lot of stopping and starting. But automatic transmissions are inconvenient when you discover that your battery is dead and you either have no jumper cables with you or you do not have another car battery within a close proximity to provide you with the boost your battery needs.

Why Can’t I Push Start a Car with an Automatic Transmission?

The automatic transmissions are equipped with a gearbox that should stop you from being able to get the car rolling to a speed of five miles per hour or more. Five miles per hour is the lowest speed that a standard transmission will allow a car with a dead battery to crank it.

The automatic transmissions may have an open clutch and that open clutch will stop you from being able to close it manually like you do when you pop the clutch on a standard transmission to crank the vehicle with a dead battery.

How can I Crank a Vehicle that has an Automatic Transmission and a Dead Battery?

The only real way for you to crank a vehicle that has an automatic transmission and a dead battery is for you to connect another battery or power source to the dead battery. By connecting another battery or power source to the dead battery you provide the dead battery with a boost of energy that will allow it to have enough cranking amps to turn the engine over and start the vehicle.

How to Connect an External Power Source to a Vehicle with an Automatic Transmission

You will need to have a set of jumper cables to connect an external power source or another battery to the dead battery of an automatic vehicle. Jumper cables are often called booster cables or jump leads.

Booster cables are made of insulated wire and they commonly have alligator clips on the end of the cables. The alligator clips are designed to grab onto the posts of the battery terminal and create a connection between the two batteries.

Jumper cables come in different lengths, and they come in different wire gauges. The heavier wire used on some booster cables will allow a stronger amount of current to pass through the cables and into the dead battery. If the booster cables are made of wire that is not heavy duty enough then they will not allow the battery that is hot to provide sufficient voltage, and if the cables are too small they can become damaged when you are using them on high voltage batteries.

You must also be careful to connect the positive cable to the positive terminal on your car battery. If you inadvertently connect the negative cable to the positive terminal, or the positive cable to the negative terminal then you will have reversed the polarity of the battery and this can cause the battery to spark and ignite a fire under your hood. Reversed polarity can also cause the battery to be damaged internally by warping the plates in the battery, or can in some instances cause the battered housing to crack open and allow battery acid and fluids to leak from the unit.

You must not allow the alligator clips on the end of the booster cables to come into contact with one another while you are connecting the batteries. If the clamps touch each other they can create a spark. You do not want the booster cable clamps to touch the metal surfaces of the vehicle while you are making the connection either.

Make certain that both vehicle engines are turned off when you are connecting the booster cables. Once they are properly connected to the ‘hot’ engine should be cranked and you should allow sufficient time for a power surge to be provided to the ‘dead’ battery. This power swap can take several minutes and you should not rev the engine of the running vehicle to create a stronger surge of power.

When your vehicle cranks you should disconnect the booster cables. Disconnect the positive cable first and then the negative cables but being careful to not let the cable ends touch.

Can I Connect my Car to any Car Battery?

No; you cannot connect just any car battery to your car for the purpose of jump starting it. If the battery on the other car is a larger voltage then you could cause a great deal of damage to your car battery by attempting to jump start with the higher voltage output.

Portable Jump Starters

Choosing the best portable jump starters are the perfect way to crank a car with an automatic transmission. The portable jump starters can be carried in the trunk of your vehicle just like you would carry the jumper cables. Portable jump starters eliminate the need for another car to connect to your car. The small starter is as powerful as a car battery.

With portable jump starters you get:

  • The power to crank your car without another vehicle
  • Protection against reverse polarity
  • Protection against too much voltage or overcharging the dead battery
  • The ability to crank your car without any assistance

AAA and Roadside Assistance Services

You can pay a monthly fee to have a roadside assistance service available in case your vehicle breaks down. If your car battery goes dead then you call the roadside assistance service and they will arrange for someone to come give you a jump. You might have to wait several hours, depending on where you are when your car battery refuses to work.

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