Start Your Car With a Rope (Dead Battery Life Hack)





Introduction: Start Your Car With a Rope (Dead Battery Life Hack)

About: Innovative Projects, Diy's, Life Hacks

In this Instructable, I demonstrate a way to start a manual transmission car with a dead battery.

We won't use jumper cables or push the car.

This trick is great for situations when you need to start the car, but there is nobody to give you a push or a jump start.

What's needed:

  • Manual transmission car
  • Jack
  • Rope

If you are Interested in the video version of this Instructable and the embedded video does not appear on your mobile device, here is an alternative link

Step 1:

Jack up one of the front wheels (if front wheel drive car)

Step 2:

Pull the handbrake and put the car in 3rd gear.

Step 3:

Turn the key in the ignition to ACC or On position (depending of the car)

Step 4:

Wrap a rope around the wheel lifted and pull.

If you are (strong) lucky enough, the car should start.


It will work best on petrol cars.

I did try it on a diesel, but it was too hard to pull the wheel.


☠ Warning ☠
As mentioned in the video, It will NOT work on any car. Trying to start the car this way can be Dangerous.

Use this Instructable at your own risk.



    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Stick It! Contest

      Stick It! Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    That is incredibly dangerous... Should the jack fail/car falls you are going to be under your vehicle as it stalls leaving you trapped...

    IF you are desperate enough to NEED to do this method lets do it as safely as possible so our paramedic friend isn't needing to attend to your crushed body.

    1st) use reverse as the gear ratio is better for starting and wind the rope accordingly --It's also much less likely you'll end up under the vehicle should the jack fail...

    2nd) chock the other tires so if it the jack fails the car will be apt to stall instead of heading into nearest ditch/car/fence or person that just came out of their house to give you a hand...

    Calling BS, he put car in neutral, that disengages the wheel from drive train.

    Hand brake blocks all four wheels. It is not possible to turn around. I am a European, we all have manual transmissions.

    13 replies

    I take it, you've never personally seen the results of a car coming off a jack and mutilating or killing someone. I have - I'm an Ambulance Paramedic - and it isn't a pretty sight. One of the worst deaths that can happen to a person is having a car come off it jack and fall on that person slowly crushing them to death. And given that anybody resorting to the described method would only be doing so because there was no one else around to give a helping hand, being trapped under a car that is slowly crushing you to death is a horrible way to die.

    Those people badmouthing this instructiable are doing so because no matter how you try to persuade us otherwise, this is an extremely dangerous thing to be doing. It's that simple!! As for your analogy about ice skating or parachuting, those who do those sports have spent countless hours being instructed in what to do along with many hours of practising before being let loose on their own on the ice or stepping out of a plane.

    If you are under this car when pulling the rope then you are not following the clear instructions that were given which in no way involve being under the car at any time. I grant you that there is some inherent risk in using this method but the risk can be mitigated quite easily by chocking the rear wheels. You are overstating when you claim this to be "extremely dangerous". Caution should be taken for sure but it is not deep fried death on a stick like many are portraying it to be.

    "Deep fried death on a stick" I think this is my new favorite saying.

    As I said, I'm an Ambulance Paramedic. Every day I deal with the unintended results of supposedly only slightly risky situations and actions. The point here is that anybody contemplating using this method would be untrained and inexperienced. Even if someone followed the instructions precisely as detailed, there is no guarantee of a safe outcome. One factor that has not been mentioned is if the transmission is in third gear, a huge force is still needed to be applied to the wheel in order to get it to turn. Stop for a moment and think about what happens with the rope after it comes off the wheel. There is so much energy created in that rope due to the force being applied to turn the wheel that once it's free of the wheel, inevitably the end of that rope is going to whip around and strike something, in all likelihood the person pulling the rope. End result: someone horribly maimed or killed. So if the car falling off its jack doesn't get you, the whipping end of the rope will. Just ask any 4wd car owner why they don't stand near the cable when they're using their vehicle's winch So no, I'm not being alarmist in describing this action as extremely dangerous. As I said, I deal with the results of such supposedly "low risk" actions every day of the week and I've seen what happens as a result,

    First of all, you are being an alarmist. Just exactly how much force do you think in in a whipping rope pulled by a man VS a snapping steel cable that was supporting the weight of an entire vehicle. Sounds like you have some PTSD from seeing some horrible stuff. I get that and thanks for doing what you do...but you're wrong. I have come up with a solution for you. Cock the front wheels so that you can wind the rope in such a way as to be behind the front wheel and off to the side of the car when you are pulling the rope. This way, if the car comes off the jack (much less likely since you are introducing more of a side load and the jack/car is much more stable under that kind of load) and the car lurches forward, you are out of the path of the car. It will be traveling away from you. Problem solved. Couldn't have done it without you. Thanks for the help.

    No I don't have PTSD. As I have said several times, I am an Ambulance Paramedic. As part of my job, I am also a senior training officer. Everything I've said is unequivocally backed up by thousands of hours real life experience. Now I'm not wanting to sound rude or arrogant but everything you've said is purely theoretical, whereas everything I've said is based on real life situations and experience. Irregardless of whether the force being applied to a jack is that of a downward load or a side force, no jack is stable simply because by dint of the nature of their design the base has only a very small footprint area [no more than a few square inches in most cases] whilst the lift head is even smaller in area and is usually only held in situ by a thin easily twisted strip of metal projecting down from the bottom of the vehicles sill [box] section. If you peruse any vehicle owners instruction book, you'll find very prominent warnings about just how unstable jacks are.Those warning are there for a reason. So why are vehicles still equipped with such unstable and dangerous devices by their makers? Simple, such devices are cheap to manufacture, weigh very little and are compact and take up very little luggage/load space.

    Mamod, actually how many Ambulance calls have you personally taken as a result of a car falling on someone from starting it with a rope? My guess would be zero. I have not found any direct accidents relating to this instructable.

    I love it when people who don't know what experiences I've had or what accident data I have access to as part of my job, try to infer that I don't have the experience or knowledge that I say I have. And since you have obviously already decided you don't believe anything I've said it would be rather pointless to answer your "question" as it's unlikely you'd believe it anyway.

    Based of that logic I should never ride my motorcycle. People should never stay out of home and you should not leave home without a helmet. This method is not as bad as you think it is. Yes, you see horrible things and I appreciate your profession , however you cannot factor in the human error all the time. This method has certain risks, but if you are doing this with a small car, with hand break applied, and rock or wedge in from of rear tires, then is not that risky if you are smart about it. Thanks for the safety input, at least it can make think people think about it. Keep up the good work buddy.

    In this case we're talking about a rope with maybe 100 lb force in it. Take care to not wrap it around an extremity or your neck, and you most likely won't be Isadora Duncan. I acknowledge nothing here is risk free, but consider that your sample is biased, because nobody calls you when things go right.

    I learnt long ago that people do not like being told that certain outcomes could occur as a result of someone's own actions.Most people will go to great lengths to discount such warnings or refuse to heed or acknowledge the documented outcomes of such activities; and indeed we've seen numerous examples of just that on this very discussion with some posters labeling other posters as being alarmist or negative nellies and the like. Just because I've detailed some possible outcomes if someone tries this technique doesn't make anything I say biased. All I'm doing is speaking from experience and data accumulated over many years. It makes no difference to me whether you heed what I say or not.

    I've also learnt over time that it is often those same people who accuse others of being negative or alarmist who end up going out and having an accident or seriously injuring themselves and then afterwards say why wasn't I told of the potential dangers or you could've at least warned me.

    He did say to set the parking brakes. That almost always means locking the rear wheels. (I've heard of, but never seen, a system where the parking brake worked on other wheels.) So, if the car came off the jack, it would have either been because the parking brake didn't work properly, or because the person pulling the rope applied enough force to drag the rear wheels across the ground without them turning. That seems pretty far fetched.

    Lots of post war Citroens, and the more recent ones often have those crazy electric parking brakes.

    My uncle has a manual corola with no battery, i might try it out on that.

    Yeah, i like it it.

    Beats pushing it by the drivers door,

    hopping in, and popping the clutch,

    Modified from my previous comment...

    Ever been alone out in the deep bush (no
    cell reception) come back to your car and found you left something on
    that drained your battery, this would be a lifesaver. Stop all your
    about safety ! Only things I would add is jack up both front tires in
    case of creep. Just don't put your hand through the eye of the strap or
    wrap the end around your hand for a quick release in case car starts
    quickly and the strap wraps back around the tire, also don't wear gloves
    when pulling strap. Simply shift into neutral and lower car.

    always carry a 4 meter x 5 x 1 cm. tow/recovery strap, this would give
    excellent grip as well as a long pull for a cold engine.

    Great instructable , thank-you Very much man from Spain.

    Ever been alone out in the deep bush (no cell reception) come back to your car and found you left something on that drained your battery, this would be a lifesaver. Stop all your winning about safety !

    Great instructable , thank-you Very much man from Spain.