How to Jump-Start Your Car Without Jumper Cables

If you’ve ever witnessed someone pushing a Toyota MR2 Spyder down the side of a parking lot trying to get it to start itself…that could have been me. We’ve all been guilty of leaving ourselves stranded without jumper cables at some point in time or trying to help someone when they don’t have them. A dead battery and no jumper cables seem like it’s the end of the road for saving the car that day, but that isn’t always the case. These helpful tips could help you out of a situation with a dead battery even when you don’t have jumper cables, but we would recommend checking to make sure you have emergency tools at your regular maintenance intervals.

Jump-starting a manual car

If you’ve driven an automatic your entire life, the first part of the introduction probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to you. Manual cars take the phrase “push to start” a little too literally because you can actually push them into starting. I may, or may not, have had to do this on more than one occasion. With the clutch in and ready to go into second gear, you can push the car until it begins to roll, and a quick dump of the clutch can get it going.

Eva Longoria Parker uses jumper cables to boost her car battery at The Rally For Kids With Cancer Scavenger Cup's "Start Your Engines" Brunch
Eva Longoria with jumper cables | George Pimentel/WireImage

This trick doesn’t quite work if you’re driving an automatic car, which happens to be a majority of what is on the road today. But just because you have an automatic doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There are still a few tricks that can help you out in a pinch.

When all else fails…

Jumper cables themselves have one pretty large fault, you have to have another car with a charged battery to make them work. This can mean asking a complete stranger or waiting for a friend to get to where you are. The easiest way to avoid both of these situations is to get a battery pack, which is an essential emergency tool you should keep in your car. They can be used to charge your phone battery, or sometimes even larger electronics, and some even come with mini air compressors to help inflate a low tire.

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The battery starters have connection cables that can hook up to the battery for a quick and convenient start, and they aren’t necessarily expensive, either. You can find them at your local hardware store for less than $100, or I’ve ordered a few off of Amazon to test as well for less than $60 with some luck. Battery packs can be a lot more convenient than jumper cables overall, and for the price, they are a good investment that can help you in a number of car-related emergencies.

If you have neither of these tools and you’re a little bit more daring some people have tried even crazier stunts like using metal rods or wrenches to connect the posts between two batteries. While that may technically work, I would personally recommend exhausting just about every other resource first. The process itself is pretty simple, and the video below gives a quick tutorial of how to do this safely.