While newer cars never allow you to turn over the engine without the clutch depressed, in some older cars, if you do leave the transmission in gear, do not depress the clutch and turn the key, the car will start rolling forward and the engine will start normally.

Obviously it causes the engine to put torque on the transmission while it is starting, but can this cause any damage or extra wear on the drivetrain as opposed to starting the engine with the transmission disconnected?

2 Answers 2


Until the engine starts the only thing applying torque to the drive train is the starter motor, the engine itself is not providing any torque.

Starting like this will not cause any damage to the drive train (except perhaps the teeth on the edge of the flywheel that the starter motor engages with) but it does put excessive load on the starter motor and it's wiring. This could potentially lead to premature failure of the motor or the battery.

(NOTE: I am English and in terms of cars: Motor = Electric, Engine = The noisy bit that is fueled by hydrocarbons.)

  • 1
    As per your note: we're pretty easy with the interchange of motor/engine. According to Miriam-Webster a motor is any of various power units that develop energy or impart motion. We call a vehicle a motor vehicle, not an engine vehicle. I could go on and on. I'm just suggesting not to get hung up on semantics. In the grand scheme of things, the two terms are fairly much interchangeable. As for the answer, +1 ... well done. Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 0:02

I have being a few times in the past with seized/failing clutch problems, in which the only way to have the car moving was to engage 2rd or 3rd (manual box) and use the starter to start the engine. It feels very odd and clumsy, but works. The only problem is that the starter and its wiring would get really hot, so it shouldn't be abused. But as a "bring me back home" solution, it works. I never saw any damages anywhere.

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