I'm after head gasket replacement and I'm trying to adjust valve clearance.

2 wheels of a fwd 1995 Renault Twingo are lifted off the ground, the engine is in gear, but the crankshaft doesn't turn when I rotate the wheels by hand, What's the problem?

1 Answer 1


Between the engine and transmission assembly (or part of the transmission assembly) there is a set of gears called the differential. Its purpose is to enable the outside wheel faster rotation when performing a turn.

With both wheels off the ground, turning one of them forward will cause the other to rotate in the reverse direction.

Safely block the rear wheels on the ground and use a jack stand to keep only one wheel elevated. You'll find that you can then rotate the elevated wheel in neutral, and when in gear, you'll be turning the transmission and engine.

For ease of rotation, select the highest forward gear. When you are operating a vehicle with a transmission, the low gears allow high rpm at the engine and a lower rpm and higher torque at the wheels. When rotating the wheel, you are reversing the mechanical advantage, which makes it more difficult to turn the engine.

Selecting the highest gear gives you the mechanical advantage, as best as can be managed.

In my younger years, I would jack up my old VW Beetle and place the transmission in fourth gear, turn on the ignition and spin the wheel to start the engine. Because there was no load on the wheel after starting, the engine would continue to run, although somewhat roughly, until I could pop it into neutral.

  • I did this just today on my car... Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 4:18
  • 4
    Your Beetle: sounds like a way of push starting without needing a pusher or a hill. Always use high gear for push starting; you'll be surprised at the size of vehicle that can be started this way (I have relevant experience with heavy agricultural Diesel engines). Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 9:47
  • 1
    Thanks. You are the first on the internet to provide this information. This will help many people.
    – ronenfe
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 10:34
  • Thank you for this article. Very same question but regarding my VW. I had both rear wheels off the ground, plugs out of the engine, valve covers removed. Spun the rear wheel, the engine didn't turn over. Tomorrow, I'll try again with one rear wheel on the ground. Thanks again all! Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 1:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .