Two Ways To Start A Beetle With A Dead Battery And No Jumper Cables

Really early Beetles still came with starting cranks, and I’ve always sort of wished that continued. I’ve had to push-start or jump dead-battery Beetles many, many times. I’m not alone, of course, and some have figured out much better ways.

My favorite way is the one up top there — the lawnmower-style pull-cord method. JC Whitney even used to sell special cords just for this purpose. Wrap it around the generator/alternator/fan pulley, give it a good yank, and boom, you’ve started your engine. I gotta get one of those cords.

This other method, in this Brazilian video here, is essentially push starting the car while one wheel is jacked up, sort of scares me. I don’t trust jacks enough.


Either way, it’s oddly satisfying to watch these.

EDIT: I was a big dummy here. VW e-brakes use two cables, one to each wheel, and while they can be made to work independently, that’s not normally the case with a single handle. And, yes, an open diff means the wheel with least resistance turns. I fixed that but wanted to make sure those who commented knew I was being an idiot there. No more rushing at the end of the day!

(Thanks, Ed!)

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I believe this only works with a generator car if the battery is dead. The alternator version needs a charge to bumpstart. Can anyone confirm? I haven’t had to do it...yet.