We've all been there. You arrive to your car, turn the key, and hear nothing. Perhaps a clicking sound if you're lucky. Either way, your car battery is dead and this is wholly bad for what ever plans you had to drive some where.
Last night, as we were leaving the pool, two young guys had just this problem. I thought they had it handled, pushing the car apparently to get it started. But moments later they were opening the hood and staring blankly at the engine.
So I walked over and offered "help getting it started" to which they said "we don't have cables". I asked if the car had a manual or automatic transmission and they said automatic. Yep, they were DOA and going no where fast.
But wait, I looked inside the car and pointed out to the owner that it was actually a manual transmission. He looked at me like I was an engine... blankly. I asked why we don't just use the five guys still there and push it started? More blank. Finally his friend caught on, asked if I knew how to do that, then handed me the keys and opened the driver's door for me.
On the second attempt the engine sputtered. On the third try it coughed, sputtered, wheezed then slowly woke up and came to life. Problem solved.
The confusion over the type of transmission I take as a Dutch-English language thing. But not only did the car owner not know how to start his car, no one else did either. My students were shocked and asked me how I learned "so much about cars". LOL! This ignorance must end.
So, for your future use, I present the steps to starting a car without a battery.
- You'll need one car with a manual transmission, one driver, and two strong people.
- You'll also need a straight, short (50 yards) space to push the car through. Any parking lot or side street will do.
- Have the driver sit in the car with the key turned to "run", the gearbox in first gear, and the clutch pushed in.
- Have the human battery substitutes push the car forward to a jogging pace.
- The driver should yell for the pushers to stand clear and then drop the clutch while giving a small bit of throttle. As soon as the engine catches, put the clutch back in and give it the gas. It's started and will begin charging the battery immediately.
If your battery was dead and started by cables or push starting, take it for a 30 minute drive to charge the battery back up. Idling for 30 minutes does not do the same thing.
Sadly, automatic transmissions, manu-matics and other variations don't work. But hopefully the next time you or a friend has a dead battery, you'll be able to help by using the push start technique.