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This relates to a car I was parked next to recently, that wouldn't start. I would have helped but didn't know how. The engine turned over on the starter (until the owner flattened the battery) but didn't fire. It had manual transmission. In old cars I've had, bump (push) starting would have been worth a shot, and we had the space to do it. But the car had a push-button starter, so the usual approach of turning the key to "running", selecting a high gear, and bringing the clutch up once moving would fail at the first step.

So how would you bump-start such a car - if it's even possible?

  • As it's not my car, and I'll probably never see the owner again, further troubleshooting isn't of interest, i.e. my question assumes that a bump-start is desirable. – Chris H Nov 12 at 16:53
  • Does the battery have enough power to run the dash board lights etc., but just not enough to crank? If it does, you can push the start button without the engine in gear and the clutch out, and the brake pedal un-pressed. The neutral safety switch should keep it from trying to crank, and the car should be turned on, allowing you to bump start it. (This is common behavior, but without knowing your exact car I can't be sure it'll work for you.) – the_storyteller Nov 12 at 17:03
  • @the_storyteller that appeared to be the case. But as it's not my car, I can't be sure what the switch would do if released after failing to start the engine, and I don't know whether this is standardised – Chris H Nov 12 at 17:22
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There's likely some variation between the setup in different vehicles, but here's how it's set up on my manual trans Mazda 3 -

The button will put the car into the 'ignition on' state if it is pressed while the clutch isn't down. There's no interlock with the brake or gear lever. As such you could do this before your helper starts pushing, or while in neutral once rolling (if there's minimal charge left in the battery, best to leave powering up until the last second), then push the clutch down, put it in gear and pop the clutch.

  • That makes sense (only I would have been the pusher; the owner had never bump-started a car before but wouldn't have been able to push). I don't think I've ever driven a manual with a clutch interlock before (except possibly a hire car with auto-stop, but I always dip the clutch on starting anyway so wouldn't have noticed) – Chris H Nov 12 at 21:42

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