Dead battery question

This past weekend me and a buddy went to a baseball game. However my buddy left his headlights on and when we got back to the car some 5 hours later the battery was dead. His car is stick shift and I thought you could start the car by pushing it and poping the clutch, but we couldn’t get it going that way. Was I wrong? Also once we got it jumped we drove without AC and such since it was night and had to have headlights, how long does it take for the battery to charge fully back up via driving the car?

Using an alternator to recharge a dead battery can damage the alternator. The alternator is designed to maintain the charge on a good battery. That’s why they make battery chargers.

Here’s what’s included with each alternator I replace.


Probably depends on age and condition of battery and how drained it was. I’d want to put a charger on it when it got home just to top it off. 30 minutes of driving would probably charge it enough to start the next time but it’s probably not fully charged.

If battery was really really dead, popping the clutch might not start it due to all the electronics and fuel injection in cars these days. You wouldn’t have the fuel pump and fuel injection working well enough, same with computer controlled spark. Starting a car this way was easier with carburetors.

With cars made more than 20 years ago, they had larger engines and larger batteries. Leaving your lights on with one of these cars would still leave enough charge in the battery to make push-starting possible. However, with smaller engines, and smaller batteries, there isn’t enough juice left in the battery to fire the plugs when you try to push-start the car.

Tell your friend to get some good jumper cables.

He has a pair, but no one in the parking lot was open to giving us a jump. So after the push try didn’t work we called AAA. They jumped it started and then we had our 2 hour drive back home as we were out of state to see a baseball game. So that is why I wondering if with that long of a drive if it would have recharged the battery.

Like Tester said above, your alternator is not made to charge a dead battery, and can be damaged if it is used to do so.

Perhaps a rechargeable battery booster would suit your friend’s needs.

Okay since given the time of night (11pm) and location (out of state) our only option was to get a jump and then make the 2 hour (110 mile) drive back to our home. So was his altanator ruined? What other options should we have done?

I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you had gotten a jump start from a stranger, the owner of the other car would have put his alternator at risk when he used it to charge the dead battery, but it probably would have been fine. Now you know why nobody wanted to give your friend a jump-start.

Calling AAA was the right thing to do. Another option is a rechargeable battery booster.

A properly operating alternator can indeed recharge a battery without any problems. Driving at night with the headlights on, your alternator would need 3 or 4 hours to completely recharge the dead battery, same as a charger would.

What gear were you in when you tried the push-start? How was the car put in motion?