The service manual in my car says that I should wait for 15 second before trying to crank the engine a second time. So does this website.

make sure not to crank the engine for more than 15 seconds at a time. Current going through the armature may overheat parts, damage internal components and ruin the starter. Crank the engine 5 to 7 seconds at a time and let the starter cool down for a few seconds after three or four tries.

When I'm on a steep slope (facing upward and at a just-turned-green signal), trying to start the engine, with people honking behind me, the first attempt at cranking the engine works and I try to accelerate, but let go of the clutch too quickly, and engine stops. Now I can't sit and wait for a full 15 second before trying to start the car again!

This wait-for-15-second rule seems too impractical. Did I misinterpret it or can I try starting the car before 15 second?

  • 2
    I agree with Larry, however I would also say don't let yourself be bullied. If you have stalled, take a deep breath, make sure you are safe, if the starter needs to cool just let it, and just try again.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 26, 2012 at 20:20
  • Usually you can (need or must depending on country) put a special sign on your car to let other drivers know you are a newbie. Knowing that newbies often have problems on slopes the sign will tell others to to leave more space in case you rollback a little and also that they should be more forgiving to mistakes they once did themselves time ago.
    – Kromster
    Jun 27, 2012 at 5:55
  • It is worth noting that the above doesn't say you have to wait for 15 seconds, it says don't do it for 15 seconds at a time. This to me means don't turn the key to the "start engine" position that engages the starter motor and then hold it there for 15 seconds. This then implies to me that you can do it for a total of 15 seconds in multiple attempts without any worry at all.
    – Chris
    Jun 27, 2012 at 10:05

1 Answer 1


You should be fine in that instance. I wouldn't make a habit of it. The rule I was taught was crank for no more than 15 seconds and let the started cool for a few minutes in between. The goal is to keep the starter from overheating so your time is cumulative. It shouldn't take more than 3 - 5 seconds of cranking to start the engine. Based on that you could try 3-5 times before you would reach the 15 seconds of cranking limit.

As you get better at driving a stick it will be less of an issue. In the mean time just as anyone learning to drive a stick the clutch and the starter are going to get a little more than normal wear on them.

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