A low car battery can be quite an inconvenience since it likely means your vehicle won’t start.
And nobody wants to get stuck on the side of the road or in their driveway.
So, how do you start a car when the battery is low?
The best way to start your car when it has a low battery charge is to jump-start the battery. You can accomplish this as long as you have another car with a working battery and jumper cables. Or you can give your car a rolling start or use a battery starter.
In this article, I will discuss three ways to start a car with a low or dead battery.
Then, I will explain how you can determine how much voltage your battery has.
3 Methods to Start a Car With a Low Battery Charge
If your car has a low battery charge, try out one of the methods below.
Method One: Jump-Start the Battery
The most common way to restart a low battery is to jump-start it.
To jump-start a car, you’ll first need to buy a pair of jumper cables.
Then, you must find another car with a working battery.
Once you have these two things, you should face both the vehicles towards each other so that the batteries are close together.
And remember that you shouldn’t start the car with the good battery just yet.
Next, you must open the hoods of both vehicles and find their batteries.
The battery is pretty easy to identify as it is a black box, usually near the engine.
However, keep in mind that the battery is not always under the hood.
If you can’t find the battery in one of the cars, consult its owner’s manual.
After you’ve located the batteries, find their positive and negative terminals.
In most cars, the negative terminal will have a “-” sign and a black cable attached to it.
Meanwhile, the positive terminal will have a “+” sign and a red cable.
Now, you need to place one of your jumper cables’ red clamps onto the dead battery’s positive terminal.
Then, take the other red clamp on the jumper cables and attach it to the positive terminal on the live battery.
Next, place the black jumper cable clamp on the live battery’s negative terminal.
Finally, attach the other black clamp onto any unpainted, non-moving metal surface on the engine of the car with the dead battery.
You should now start the car with the good battery and then try to start the vehicle with the dead battery.
After jumping, let the vehicle with the low battery run for about 20 minutes.
If the dead car does not start when you have the jumper cables in place, it may have another issue besides the battery, such as a problem with the ignition switch.
Method Two: Push Start
If you have a manual transmission vehicle with a dead or low-charge battery, you can try push-starting it.
To push start your vehicle, you first have to find one or two people willing to help you because they will literally need to push your car for you.
These people should go to the back of the car and get ready to push.
Meanwhile, you need to get into the driver’s seat, put your key in, and turn your ignition to “on.”
Next, push down on the clutch and shift into second gear.
And you should note that first gear will work as well, but second gear is a better choice.
Once you’re in second gear, you can tell the people behind the car to start pushing.
They need to continue to push until the vehicle reaches between 5-10 mph (8-16 kph).
When the car has gained this speed, you must slowly let go of the clutch.
Your vehicle should now start.
If it does not, try again, and this time pop the clutch at a higher speed.
If the engine still won’t start, there is likely something else wrong with your car beside the battery.
Method Three: Use a Portable Battery Starter
Of course, asking someone else to help you jump-start your car isn’t always possible or safe.
But luckily, you can always use a portable battery starter to get your car going again.
Of course, you first need to buy a portable battery starter if you don’t already have one.
And just about any portable battery starter will work to start your battery, but it can be helpful to pay attention to extra features.
One feature you may want to look out for in a battery starter is USB ports so that you can charge your phone as well as your battery.
Yet, whichever battery starter you choose, you need to ensure it has a full charge before you try to use it on your battery.
Usually, there will be a light on the battery starter telling you how much charge it has.
Once you’ve determined that the starter has a full charge, you must turn off your car and take the keys out of the ignition.
You also need to keep the battery starter off for now.
Then, set the charger as far away from the car battery as the cables allow.
Next, you need to find the positive terminal on your vehicle’s battery.
The positive terminal typically has a “+” sign and a red cable attached to it.
Now, clamp the battery starter’s red cable onto your car battery’s positive terminal.
Place the starter’s black cable on any unpainted, nonmoving part of the engine.
Finally, turn the battery starter on and start your vehicle.
If your car does not start immediately, wait a couple of minutes and try again.
If your vehicle still doesn’t start, you probably have another problem besides the battery.
How to Test Your Car Battery’s Voltage
If you aren’t entirely sure if it’s your battery that is causing your car’s issue, you should check the voltage to see if the battery has a proper charge.
To check the voltage of your battery, you need to get a digital multimeter.
Then, once you have your multimeter, you must turn off your car’s ignition and open the hood.
Next, look at your multimeter and see if it is auto-ranging.
If it’s not, set it to 20V DC.
Now, you need to locate your vehicle’s battery.
The battery is typically under your car’s hood near the engine.
However, it may be in another location, so check your owner’s manual if you can’t find it.
Then, locate the positive and negative terminals on your battery, which normally have a “+” and “-” symbol, respectively.
Once you’ve found the terminals, you can attach the multimeter’s red cable to the positive terminal and the black cable to the negative terminal.
Finally, read your multimeter.
If your battery has 12.4V or more, it’s good.
If it has less, you need to charge it.
Using jumper cables is the best way to start a car with a low battery charge.
Yet, you can also push start your vehicle if you have a manual or use a portable battery starter.
Or, if you aren’t sure if your battery is what’s causing your engine not to start, you can always check the voltage with a digital multimeter to be sure.