How to Pop the Clutch to Start a Car

by Francis Walsh

You haven't really lived a full life unless you have had to pop the clutch to start a car. Back in your youth, you could let the battery run out before it was fixed or let a bad starter keep the car from starting. If you have found yourself without the assistance of the battery or starter to get your car started, and you are lucky enough to have a standard transmission, you can still get going. Popping the clutch on a car is simple to do once you know how to do it.

Get inside the vehicle and depress the clutch to shift the car into "Neutral." Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the "On" position. This is the place the key would be after a normal turn of the ignition switch for starting. Instead, with a clutch pop, the ignition will already need to be on so that when the engine is turned over, the key is in the On position.

Move the car in position to be pushed from behind or sent down a slope for the starting procedure. Check to see that the brakes will work when pressed and how hard the steering wheel will need to be turned before the vehicle is started. Power steering and brakes will make both systems work poorly until the vehicle is started.

Sitting inside the driver's seat with the clutch depressed, put the shifter into first gear. Keep your foot depressed onto the clutch and the brake pedal without depressing the brake pedal. Roll down the window and signal to your helper to push. As the car rolls, you will steer toward any slope that will assist the helper in getting the car down the street. Allow the momentum of the vehicle to increase to constant motion.

Release the clutch quickly and be prepared to throttle the gas pedal as the engine is turned over by the motion of the vehicle. When in gear, the engine will be forced to crank and the ignition will send a spark for a start. The quicker the vehicle is going before the clutch is released will determine how many times the engine will turn over. More cranks equal more opportunities to ignite the gas and air for combustion and the engine to start without a battery or starter.

Tip

  • check Try to depress the clutch again right after an attempt and release while the vehicle is still moving. Sometimes it's the second press and release that jerks the vehicle to life. On a hill, you can attempt to start the car all the way to the bottom as long as it continues to roll downhill.

Warning

  • close You should always yell to your helper to stop pushing before you release the clutch. The reaction of the car can be violent and if the helper is still pushing, injuries can result from falls into the vehicle or onto the ground.

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About the Author

Francis Walsh has been working as a freelance writer since 2003. He has contributed to websites such as Shave, Autogeek and Torque & Chromeas, as well as provided content for private clients. Walsh has worked as a performance part-packer and classic car show promoter, now serving as crew chief for Nitrousfitz Racing.