Cars

How to Start a Car Without Jumper Cables

We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Uh oh. Dead battery. That’s the last thing you need while you’re on your first date since COVID-19!

When you’re in a city or out in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery and no jumper cables, you might wonder if it’s even possible to get your car going again. It might be feasible to find someone with those cables when you’re in a city or near a neighborhood, but what do you do if you’re alone or taking your date home? 

Even the best cars break down once in a while. Car batteries die for various reasons. Maybe you left your lights on all night or the radio blasting too long. When you don’t have access to jumper cables, you need to be your own hero in this time of need. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can get your car riding on the roads again. 

Here’s how to start a car without jumper cables so you can get you and your date home safe and sound.

Make Sure the Battery Is Dead

First, you want to make sure that the battery is absolutely dead. Inspect your car for what caused it to stop. Here are some ways to ensure that you indeed have a dead battery

  • Check the headlights: First, check the headlights. They might work or be very dim, but if you get a click or a buzz when you turn on your car, the battery is likely dead. The battery probably has enough juice to power the lights, but not the whole car.
  • Try to turn on the car: Again, if there’s a clicking or buzzing sound when you try to turn on the vehicle, the battery is probably dead. 
  • Check the dashboard: Put the key in the ignition. Check the lights on the dashboard and the stereo. There might be some sign of life, but if not, your battery is dead. If the check engine light is on, that’s a good indicator that something is wrong as well.
  • Use the key fob: Try using the key fob to unlock the car. It should still open if the battery is dead.
  • Inspect the battery: If there’s an odd smell, if your battery is old or if the battery swells in size, then it’s probably dead or damaged. 

When inspecting your vehicle for signs of a dead battery, use caution. You may not have safety glasses or gloves, but if you have any safety gear, put it on if something were to happen with the battery. Additionally, remain calm. Getting angry or overly stressed can lead to dangerous situations. 

Get to the Top of a Hill

If you have a manual vehicle, then getting your car started should be pretty easy. The chances of getting a manual car started are highly likely. 

Ideally, you’re already on a hill or elevated terrain. If not, either use all of your strength to try and push the car to a hilltop or, if you’re lucky and your date or a friend is with you, have them help you push the car to an elevated area. A short stretch of flat terrain should work as well.

In the case that you’re alone, open your driver’s side door, put your car in neutral, hold the steering wheel and use your shoulder to push as you steer the vehicle to a good location. If you’re with someone, one person should be in the driver’s seat to steer as the other pushes from behind.

Starting Your Manual Vehicle

Now that the physically exhausting part is over, you can start your vehicle without jumper cables. Starting a manual car this way should work. 

While you’re still at the top of the hill, get in your car, turn the ignition to the “on” position, press the clutch and put your car in second gear. You should still engage the parking brake at this point. 

Release the brake. As you start to go down the hill or when someone can push your car to get momentum, once you reach about five miles per hour, release the clutch. The engine might make some noises. If it starts, then your job is done. If it doesn’t, repeat the process at a higher speed. Once the vehicle starts, take it to a mechanic as soon as possible. 

What About an Automatic Vehicle? 

With an automatic car, if you don’t have a portable charger with you, then you’re at a dead-end and will have to call a tow truck or a friend who has jumper cables. If you have a charger on hand, plug it into the cigarette lighter. Give it about 10-20 minutes, and the battery should turn. 

Stock Your Vehicle With an Emergency Preparedness Kit

To ensure you’re not stuck in a situation with a dead battery and no jumper cables again, put together an emergency kit that you can keep in your car. Here are some things to include: 

  • Jumper cables or a jump-start box
  • Portable car charger
  • Safety gear, like gloves and safety glasses
  • Multipurpose utility tool
  • Reflective triangles
  • Fire extinguisher

This is just the start of a list of items you should keep in your vehicle in case of a dead battery or another emergency. Additionally, ensure you have the numbers of a towing company or roadside assistance so you can call if you are stranded.

On the Road Again

Hopefully, you’ll be on the road again soon. Having a dead battery is a situation nobody wants to be in, but it happens to the best of us. Make sure you’re prepared for any situation life throws at you, even car troubles.

Martin Banks