starting a car - clutch in or out?

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Staff member
Dec 14, 2002
New Jersey

Say you had the choice: start with the (MT) stick in gear or out, clutch in or out.

No starter switch, etc...

What is the best way to minimize abnormal forces, wear, etc. on the transmission and engine parts?


clutch out. One less thrust per starting cycle ..less crank wear. No one (typically) pushes the clutch in ..and then drives right away. They push it in, start it, release the clutch ...piddle around for a second or 15 ..then push the clutch in again.

Less wear. Clutch out.
Are there any modern cars left that don't have a clutch pedal/starter interlock?
Otherwise, I'm with Ugly. Not sure what Gary means. "Clutch out" means pedal in, right?
I used to be in the habit of pushing the pedal in, starting the car, then putting the lever in neutral, and letting the clutch pedal out again. It was reasoned that it would be good for the dry gears to spin around in some oil before driving off. Can't remember where I heard it, and I wouldn't pick up the habit again if I ever drove a manual again, as it seems the less time spent stepping on the clutch pedal, the better. Now I have a boring automatic, but one day I'll be back to shifting myself.
I would prefer to be able to start my Civic with the clutch engaged but the safety switch prohibits it ('til I bypass it and the neutral safety switch
). Reason for bypassing: I figure that if someone isn't astute enough to start the vehicle in neutral then they will learn to very quickly without the switch(es)!!
clutch engaged and in neutral.

As per Gary, the thrust bearing is as dry as it can get, and I don't want a few hundred pounds of load on a (largely) unlubricated bearing
Back about '76 I worked at a gas station and used to start the granny geared manual tranny wrecker in creeper gear. It would just get up and go.

On my '77 F150 the clutch linkage rod (from back of pedal to linkage under hood) broke. I was a mile from home. Got it home by shifting without a clutch, but had to make two starts from a dead stop. Simply started it in first gear and it walked away. Nowadays you would have to know how to disconnect the safety switch (or just tie it down).
We can argue hypotheticals all day. I got 140 K, heavy on the short trips, on my 81 Pontiac, and 180K on my 92 with starting with the clutch pedal down because of the interlock. No clutch, engine, or transmission problems at all. Where is the incentive to bypass the SAFETY switch, and then have to put the clutch in, pull it into neutral, move my hand to the key to start, and then put the clutch in, and move my hand to the gear shift and shift into gear, and finally let the clutch out?

Quite often I have left the car in low. Push the clutch in, start the car, let the clutch out, and drive away. Easier on me, and hasn't created any extra maintenance. Unless I backed into place and remembered, often as not, I leave the car in low although the manual specifies the Getrag crap is to be left in reverse. With the PITA reverse lockout, I figure I am better off being sure it is in low than chancing forth instead of reverse. If I am on my downhill driveway, I shift into second after the car is moving.

My 1964 TR-4 did specify starting in neutral with the clutch engaged. In those days with 90 weight, on cold mornings sometimes I put the clutch in. If you didn't give it some gas when you let the clutch out in neutral, it might stall.
I have bypassed the clutch switch on our 05 Mazda3. Being that I always leave it parked in neutral with the parking brake engaged, I figure that it's one less thing to worry about having to push the pedal just to start the vehicle. On that same note, I'll never have to worry about the switch going bad causing a no-start.
I'm with labman. I park in first gear, backed in, on a flat driveway, with no parking brake. Sit in the seat, depress the clutch, turn the key, release clutch and go. Am in 2nd gear by the time I'm putting on my seat belt.

Clutch in= less momentum for the starter to spin up. Nice in winter too.

My motor likes to rev to 1500-2000 rpm on its own when it's cold, and I like to immediately harness that wasted gas.
It's nice, if the car dies in the middle of the road, to ge able to move to the side with the starter.
You should let your car warm up some in cold weather, eljefino. It takes awhile to get the oil circulating and cold startup is when most of the wear and tear on your engine takes place.

I think you're just being penny wise and pound foolish.
Clutch is only to be used when shifting gears and nothing else, this is the only way to make to the 300K mark without the need to replace a worn out clutch!
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