Can I Push Start an Automatic Car? What Are The Alternatives?

(Last Updated On: November 4, 2023)

There are a lot of perks to owning an automatic vehicle. However, this can come with complications of its own sometimes as well. 

For instance, everyone knows what to do with a manual car when it doesn’t start; try to push-start the vehicle. But what do you do when the same happens to an automatic car? 

Is it possible to push start an automatic car? Let’s find out all there is to it now!

Can I Push Start an Automatic Car?

There is zero doubt that automatic cars are great, which is why they appeal to so many people. Still, even the best types of vehicles aren’t impervious to a malfunction here and there. Under certain circumstances, even your automatic could quit on you.

With manual cars, if your car suddenly stops in the middle of the road, you could always try push starting it with a bit of help. This method doesn’t work with most automatic cars.

In the past, you could push start an automatic vehicle. Back then, the cars came with two oil pumps. One pump was connected to the engine, while the other was attached to the driveline. So, if you can push the car very fast and get the torque converter to spin the machine, your automatic vehicle will start.

Some early versions of automatic cars with the automatic transmissions below can be push-started:

American Motors Corp.Flash-O-matic (not possible to push-start after 1966)
Chrysler Corp.PowerFlite;
TorqueFlite, Aluminum (not possible to push-start after 1965);
TorqueFlite, Cast Iron.
Ford Motor Co.3 Speed (not possible to push-start after 1967);
2 Speed
General Motors Corp.Buick Twin Turbine;
Corvair Powerglide;
Dual Coupling Hydra-Matic;
Powerglide Aluminum (not possible to push-start after 1966);
Powerglide, Cast Iron Tempestorque (1961-1963);
Turboglide (not possible to push-start after 1958)

However, most automatic vehicles created from the 1960s and beyond come fitted with just one oil pump connected to the engine. The car will not start in the absence of oil pressure from the turning engine. When there is no oil pressure, the transmission will remain in neutral. As a result of this, pushing an automatic car is futile. That said, there are still a couple of things you can do if you find yourself in the face of such an emergency with your automatic.

It is impossible to push-start a modern automatic car.

6 Alternative Ways to Start an Automatic Car?

1. Jump Start Your Car With Another Vehicle’s Battery

You can jump-start your car with another car’s battery, provided you can find another vehicle with a fully charged battery. If you have a pair of jumper cables, you’re all set to use this method!

Before you proceed, two things you need to do are;

  • Ensure that your battery and the jumper cables are free of damage. If either of those is damaged and you go ahead with this process, you may be putting yourself at risk.
  • Make sure you’re not wearing metal like a ring or any jewelry. If such materials touch the battery, it could create a circuit throughout your entire car.

You can follow the process below to complete the entire exercise.

Step 1: Check that all the electrical systems in your car are off. 

Step 2: Move the vehicle whose battery you intend to use as close to yours as possible. 

Step 3: Switch off the engines of both cars. 

Step 4: Get your jumper cables.

Step 5: Connect one red jumper cable to the positive end (+) of the good battery and the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of your battery.

Step 6: Connect one end of the black cable to the negative terminal (-) of the other battery and attach the other end of the cable to any unpainted metal surface.

Step 7: Try to start your vehicle. It might take a few tries, depending on how low your battery is.

Step 8: When your car finally starts, leave it running for at least five minutes. After that, you can switch off your vehicle, and you’re good to go.

Warning: When trying to boost your car with another battery, you can mistakenly connect the cables to the wrong terminals. Doing this could cause a fire under the hood or even extensively damage your car’s battery.

How to jump start a dead car battery with another car?

2. Jump Start Your Car With a Portable Jump Starter

Starting your automatic car with a portable jump starter is great because you don’t need anyone or anything else to make the process work. Moreover, with portable jump starters, you have reverse polarity protection. This means even if you make a mistake with your connection, nothing terrible happens.

You can do this in 8 easy steps.

Step 1: Switch off the engine of your vehicle. 

Step 2: Check that your portable jumper starter is switched of as well. Otherwise, you risk hurting yourself during this process. 

Step 3: Power-off all the electrical systems of your car.

Step 4: Connect the terminals in a charge-to-charge or color-to-color pattern. That is, connect black to black or negative to negative, as the case may be.

Step 5: Secure the connections as tight as possible.

Step 6: Turn on your jump starter. 

Step 7: Now, start your car. If nothing happens on your first try, hold off for a bit for your car battery to charge more. 

Step 8: Leave a space of three to five minutes after every attempt. After a while, your car is sure to start.

How to jump start a car with a jump starter?

3. Change Your Car Battery

If you have the opportunity to do so, you could swap your old car battery for a new one. 

Before you start, be sure to protect yourself. You can begin by wearing protective gloves and eye protection. Another thing to be careful of is ensuring you remove all metal objects from your person. Lastly, be sure you shut down the electrical system of your vehicle.

Here’s an easy 13-step guide you can follow to do this.

Step 1: Park your car on a level surface and turn off the engine.

Step 2: Put on all necessary protective equipment (gloves, protective goggles, and so on). Then, pop the hood.

Step 3: Find the battery.

Step 4: Disconnect the negative cable and use a cable tie to secure it to a place it won’t touch anything metal.

Step 5: Disconnect the positive cable and repeat Step 4.

Step 6: Carefully lift the battery from the car.

Step 7: Get the new battery.

Step 8: Clean the terminals of the battery. Doing so will remove corrosion.

Step 9: Place the replacement battery firmly in the bracket.

Step 10: Grease the terminals thoroughly.

Step 11: Attach the positive cable firmly.

Step 12: Attach the negative cable firmly.

Step 13: Close the hood and kick-start your car 

How to change a car battery.

Note: Make sure you register your battery. This process is important because it is what alerts your car to the new battery specifications. Without this, your car won’t be able to adjust to the new battery settings. 

Some of the things involved in this process include changing the;

Here’s a video you can watch to guide you through this process.  

How to register a car battery.

4. Call For Professional Help

If you cannot contact anyone who can help you out when your car battery’s dead, you can call in the big guns for help. You could opt to contact towing services to help move your car away from where it broke down to a repair shop.

Also, you have the option of getting in touch with a mobile car battery jump-starting or replacement service agency, which will do either of those things on the spot.

Ultimately, there are times when this will be your only viable option. It always helps to have the number of such service providers’ ready at hand.

5. Last-Ditch Method – Using Aspirin

Due to any number of reasons, you may not be able to access any of the alternatives listed above readily. In this instance, you do have one last option you can fall back to here: using aspirin.

When you notice that your battery is dead, you can use this remedy to fix it for a while. You need to wear protective gear. This is more so the case with sealed car battery lids as you would need a screwdriver to pry them open.

To use this method, simply follow the guide below.

Step 1: Pop the hood of your car and locate your battery.

Step 2: Open the battery lids.

Step 3: Crush two aspirin tablets into powder for each cell.

Step 4: Carefully add clean water to the cells and fill it to the usual battery level.

Step 5: Replace the cell cover as you meet it.

Step 6: Allow the mixture to settle for about 60 minutes

Step 7: Start your car.

When the engine starts, you can drive your vehicle over to the repair shop, get a new battery.

Although this method might get your vehicle to move, you should only use it as a last resort because it damages your battery in the long-term.

6. Charge Your Battery With a Battery Charger

The first thing you need to note here is that there isn’t a uniform charger for all automatic vehicles. As a result of this, you need to make sure that the charger you have on you can carry out this activity. 

For this tutorial, let’s assume that your automatic comes with Stop/Start Technology. If that’s the case, then it’ll come with an Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery or an Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB) as well. 

Before getting into the details of charging, you need to confirm your battery is ready. You can do this by cleaning the battery terminals and ensuring that it is corrosion-free. Once done, we can get into the charging process properly.

Steps for charging your battery:

Step 1: Open your hood and identify the positive (+) and negative terminals (-) of your battery.

Step 2: If the terminals are protected by plastic covers, pry those open. 

Step 3: Go over the exact instructions of the charger you want to use. Be sure to do this carefully because no two chargers work the same way.

Step 4: Get out your charger.

Step 5: Identify the red and black clamps.

Step 6: Connect the red clamp to the positive terminal of your battery. 

Step 7: Connect the black clamp to the negative terminal. 

Step 8: Ensure that the clamps are firmly attached to the terminals before you continue. 

Step 9: Place the charger as far as possible from the battery.

Step 10: Plug in the charger and turn it on. The type of charger you use will often determine how long the charging process takes.

But in some cases, this method mightn’t work directly. If the charge of your battery has dropped below the voltage threshold where the charger doesn’t recognize the battery (anywhere from 3V to 11 V, depending on the charger,) you need to first jumpstart the battery. After the battery has gained a little charge, you can then use your battery charger to do the rest of the charging.

How to charge a car battery with a battery charger.

Key Takeaway

It isn’t possible to jumpstart your vehicle. However, depending on your situation, you could change the car battery or try to jumpstart your car with another battery. You could even use aspirin to try to get it to work. If all else fails, you can always call in professional assistance on the issue. 

All you have to do is peruse your alternatives and choose the one that works best for you! So now, whenever your automatic car won’t start, you know just what to do!


  • Randy Worner

    My name is Randy Worner and I am the founder of I have been working on cars and trucks for almost 45 years. For the last 36 years I have taught Automotive / Diesel Technology classes for UTI, Snap On Tools, Chrysler, Pepboys, Lone Star College, NAPA and TBC Corporation.I also own a technical writing company known as Supreme Technical Services. It is ASE Gold Seal certified and Blue Seal Certified Author of auto/truck repair information.

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