Is it OK to change gear without pressing down the clutch when the engine is off?

Does it damage or wear anything?

Besides the general question, I also have a more specific question: When starting a car I:

  1. Check that parking brake is engaged
  2. Press the clutch (and keep depressed for remaining steps)
  3. Change gear to neutral
  4. Crank the engine

In that order. I am wondering if I can swap step 2 and 3 (i.e. change gear from first to neutral without pressing clutch, then pressing the clutch just before cranking).

  • With the engine off, you should have (nor cause) any problem whatsoever running the transmission through all the forward gears and reverse by standing outside, reaching in through the window, and moving the shifter.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


Absolutely, the only reason to press the clutch pedal in this procedure is to ensure that the engine is not connected to the transmission, putting the car in neutral duplicates that step – which is not a bad thing as this will become habit and doubles the chances that the car will not start moving when you engage the starter to crank the engine.

Depending on the sequence of steps when you parked the car you may notice some tension in the gear shift if you reverse the steps because until you press the clutch the transmission is "caught" between the engine and the wheels.


You don't need to keep the clutch pedal pressed in your step #4, since in step #3 you disengaged the engine by shifting to neutral. Build your own habit to to press clutch, put to neutral and release pedal before cranking. In some cars I have own, I could put to neutral without pressing the pedal.

As a rule, press pedals (any of them) if utterly necessary and for the shortest time it could be, to avoid premature wear in the systems they control: brake as necessary but don't keep the foot over the pedal, clutch to engage/disengage and as soon as it happened take the foot out of the pedal, gas pedal may be the one you may be stepping almost all the time.

  • 2
    Possibly note that some vehicles have a lockout switch that prevents starting if the clutch pedal isn't pressed, regardless of the gear the transmission is in. Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 18:23
  • I am sorry but this doesn't answer my question, which is should I or should I not press the clutch when engine is off and changing gears. I understand that pressing clutch when gear is neutral and starting the engine is only a good practice but not necessary. Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 18:24
  • If engine is off, no need to press clutch to shift gears. Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 21:42

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