Updated at: 21-07-2022 - By: Lucas

A faulty starter or a dead battery are not uncommon causes of a car not starting, and this can happen at any time without warning. You can push the automobile to start it if you’re in a hurry or don’t have access to immediate assistance.

If you can’t locate anyone to help you push your car, or if you need to be towed, this could come in helpful. Does this work if the car has a manual transmission or does it work on an automated transmission?

The majority of the time, the answer is no. A automobile with an automatic transmission cannot be started in any other way than the traditional one due to the architecture of the transmission.

There are exceptions to this rule, though; if your car has an automatic transmission, push starting can be accomplished. More information will be provided in the following paragraphs.

However, despite the fact that some car manuals indicate that this method does not work with automatic vehicles, the situation is not entirely clear because it is dependent on the type of automatic transmission in your automobile.

If we want to better understand why we can’t push start a car with an automatic transmission and how to do it in rare circumstances, we need to look at other factors that are related to this topic.

How push starting a car works?

Crankshaft rotation is required to get the engine up and running. The car starter is responsible for this task. However, if the starter malfunctions, the device will be rendered ineffective. A automobile can be started by being towed or pushed, since moving wheels impart torque to the crankshaft and this results in the engine starting.

It is possible to push start a car with an automatic transmission?

Man and woman pushing a broken car

Towing requires a solid connection between the towing vehicle and the towed vehicle’s wheels. Manual gearboxes use a clutch disc to connect the crankshaft to the input shaft, and a driveshaft to connect it to the driving shaft, and pinions to connect it to the wheels via couplings. Most automatic transmissions do not have this type of stiff connection.

As a result, there are several drawbacks to this approach, which relies on the engine’s revolving wheels to transfer torque. Transmissions in automatic cars do not work if the engine is not running because the oil pump only adds oil while the engine is moving.

When an automatic transmission car’s engine is turned off, the wheels and the engine are cut off from each other, so to speak. As a result, when pulling or pushing a car, the torque will not be communicated to the engine and the piston group will remain stationary. It will be impossible to start the car as a result.

Hydraulic mechanisms, rather than stiff mechanical rods, are used in automated gearboxes to change gears. For the gear to be engaged, the automatic transmission fluid must be under pressure.

There is a pump on the input shaft of the motor that generates the pressure. Friction gears are disengaged and the output shaft, which transmits rotation to the wheels, is disconnected from the primary shaft when there is no pressure.

The required condition to push-start an automatic car

Push-starting an automatic car still works in some cases, as I said above, but these are extremely unusual circumstances. An additional oil pump must be installed on the transmission’s output shaft in order to meet this requirement.

There are certain older automatic transmissions that include a second oil pump on the output shaft instead of the primary pump in the input shaft. When the car is being towed, the wheels can provide the pressure needed to start the engine using the second pump.

These AT models, on the other hand, are decades old. Older Japanese cars like Toyota and Mitsubishi before the 1990s, and some American cars from the 1980s and 1990s are also examples of automobiles that have them.

Fortunately for these auto owners, the second oil pump allows their vehicles to withstand this way of starting without causing any major damage.

The theory of push starting a car with automatic transmission

Can You Push Start An Automatic-2

Theoretically, an AT automobile can be started, but a towing vehicle is required. It won’t get better by pushing it.

  • Connect the cars;
  • Switch on the ignition by setting the key to the second position;
  • Set the automatic transmission lever to neutral;
  • Start to move the car;
  • Gaining a speed of about 30 km/h, or 18 mph for a cold transmission or 50 km/h, or 31 mph, for a warm one, and keep this speed for about about 5 minutes.
  • After building up the pressure, put the lever in the second or third gear (lower position of the lever) and press the gas pedal to the middle.
  • As soon as the engine starts, put the lever back to neutral and tell the driver that tows you to stop the car.

The first time it didn’t work, give the car 10 minutes to cool down and try again. The transmission can be damaged if you keep trying if it doesn’t work out the second time.

In theory, isn’t it better??

Achieving both the speed and the various lever locations is difficult in practice, and requires a lot of attention and ability. If it works on the autos listed above, then it may also work in other situations.


As far as today’s automobiles are concerned, you can’t simply push start a vehicle with an automatic transmission. Because of the risk of damaging the transmission and the cost of repairs, this procedure should be avoided at all costs.

If you can’t get your car to start, try changing the battery or the starter, which are the two most common culprits. To begin the repairs, you can have the vehicle towed to a shop by a tow truck.