Finding yourself needing to relocate a vehicle with a fully dead battery can be a frustrating predicament. While calling a tow truck may seem the easiest solution, several techniques allow moving a car short distances without needing to jump start the dead battery. This guide covers smart, strategic methods for gaining that little bit of momentum from a battery-less vehicle to get it safely out of the way.
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When Moving a Car on a Dead Battery is Necessary
Common situations when a dead battery vehicle may need to be manually moved include:
- Blocking other vehicles or access that needs clearing quickly.
- Needing to reach jumper cables or a charger plugged in elsewhere.
- Garage/driveway is inaccessible with vehicle in current stalled location.
- Car broke down in a hazardous road location.
- Moving just enough to jump start nearby when there are no other cars.
The goal is gaining just enough speed and distance to overcome the obstacle at hand.
Manual Movement Methods for Vehicles With Dead Batteries
With the engine inoperable, the basic options include:
- Push manually – Use sufficient helpers to slowly and safely push vehicle by hand.
- Tow strap pull – Attach tow strap to front frame or hooks to pull with another vehicle.
- Wheel dollies – Place free-rolling dollies under drive wheels to reduce friction and effort.
- Tow/push combo – Combine a tow strap pull and manual push for less resistance.
Any means of reducing friction helps lighten the considerable manual effort required.
Key Precautions When Moving a Car Without a Battery
Because there is no power assist, be sure to:
- Push or pull slowly to maintain complete control.
- Begin moving on level ground before navigating any slopes.
- Chock wheels immediately when the vehicle is repositioned.
- Keep passengers inside to steer and brake during the push/tow.
- Check surroundings for clearance and traffic hazards.
Rushing increases the risk of losing control of the heavy vehicle. Take things slowly and safely.
Signs the Vehicle Isn’t Moving Without Engine Power
Indicators that the manual move technique may not work include:
- Wheels won’t budge even with significant force applied.
- Car only rolls inches at a time with great effort.
- Helpers unable to find sufficient leverage point for pushing.
- Vehicle too heavy for available people to reposition by hand.
- Ill-equipped to remove obstacles like curbs safely while pushing.
- Wheel dollies are unable to provide enough rolling assistance to reduce friction sufficiently in order to move the vehicle.
If the above limitations are encountered, it’s wise to call for professional towing rather than risking safety or damage trying to force the vehicle to move without proper equipment or assistance.
Using Wheel Dollies for Easier Movement
Rolling wheel dollies can greatly ease moving a dead battery vehicle:
- Line up dollies under the two drive wheels.
- Push the vehicle forward just enough for the tires to gently roll fully onto them.
- Once in place, the vehicle can be maneuvered using just a couple people.
- Insert wheel chocks once repositioned then push backwards off dollies.
The free rolling dollies minimize the massive rolling resistance of a stationary vehicle.
Jumping a Battery Just Enough to Move It
If another vehicle is available:
- Jump the dead battery just long enough to start engine.
- Let idle only as needed to move it. Avoid revving.
- Shut off once repositioned. Don’t drive until fully recharged.
- Disconnect jumpers to prevent repeated drain cycles.
While not recommended for major driving, a brief jump can provide the power steering and brakes that aid moving.
Rather than waiting on a tow, smart techniques allow you to safely relocate a dead battery vehicle with minimal fuss. But exercise extreme care and avoid hasty actions that can result in injuries or vehicle damage. Work within your limitations and don’t be afraid to call a professional when needed.