Drivers Education

How to Push Start a Car in Reverse

If you own an older manual car, you want to know how to push start a car in reverse. It seems unreal that you can push start your car while in the reverse, but is possible. You must not make it a habit to avoid degrading your car faster.

how to push start a car in reverse

Push starting a car is one of the ways you can get your car to start if it is manual transmission. It should only be an option if you can’t have access to a battery booster or jumpstarter. Sometimes, you could be stuck where it becomes necessary to push start your car in reverse, perhaps the incline also favors pushing the car backward to start the engine. You could also be stuck in the parking bay, which means push starting your car in reverse becomes a worthwhile option.

Can you push start a vehicle in reverse?

Yes, you can push start a car in reverse just as you would push start it forward with the forward motion gears. Unfortunately, when you push start a car in reverse, it strains the transmission and clutch.

Typically, the reverse gear of your car has a ratio similar to the first gear. You want to make sure that the vehicle is on a high-friction ground like the tar road because a low-friction surface will barely help the wheels to transfer rotation to the engine. Instead, the wheels will slip and no energy is sent to the engine.

You can only push start a car in reverse if it uses manual transmission. If you own an automatic car, you can jumpstart it instead. See the reasons for melted jumper.

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How to Push Start a Car in Reverse

As mentioned earlier, ensure that the car uses a manual transmission. Below are the steps regarding how to push start a car in reverse:

1. Be on an Incline

If your car is not on the incline, it may not receive the desired speed and friction to start the engine.

2. Get Someone to Push

You need at least one person to help you push the car. More hands mean more force while you focus on getting the engine to fire.

While in the car, do the following:

  • Push in the clutch
  • Insert your key
  • Turn the car on
  • Put it in reverse
  • Release the parking brake. Right after you release the parking brake, hold the brake until you’re ready to start
  • Make sure no obstacle behind
  • Push up your gas
  • When the car rolls to a certain speed, typically 10 mph, release the clutch, it will start without even turning on the key

If the car does not start after 3-5 attempts, consider towing it with another car. You can always tow your dead car with a chain if no tow dolly or bar is available.

What happens when we start an engine in reverse?

Your manual transmission car may have a park/neutral safety switch or a clutch/neutral safety switch to prevent starting the car in gear. You can be able to bypass it on an older car and push start your car in reverse. Your car will jump backward and the starter also uses enough power to start the car. For obvious reasons, it is not advisable to push start a manual transmission car in reverse.

Is it good to start a car in reverse?

No, it is not good to start a car in reverse, especially without depressing the clutch and putting it in neutral. This practice will increase the risk of crashing the car and adds strain to the starter accelerator and motor. Of course, the car engine will start at the expense of degrading your car faster.

Will the engine start and run in the reverse direction if a car is push started backward in the first gear?

No, your car engine will not start and run in the reverse direction if you push start your car backward in the first gear. Leave it in the reverse gear and you should get it to start by pushing.

How do you jumpstart backwards

Most modern cars with a four-stroke engine will not start since chain-driven from crank run the cams. All the valve timing will be in the reverse, including the ignition advance and several other complex systems in your car.

If you have an older two-stroke vehicle with reed valve induction using less ignition advance, it could just sputter a little. You may be unable to add load on it since the ignition advance is still off. But this could be sufficient to get the combustion past the mechanical advantage point of the piston crank mechanism to produce the desired power.

Final Thoughts

Although you can start your manual transmission car in the reverse, it is not always advisable to do so. Make sure it does not become a habit. Get your battery charged or jumpstarted and replace your battery if it is dead. Issues such as born fuse, damaged starter motor, faulty ignition switch, and bad battery can keep the push start from working.

Meanwhile, you might be interested in the reasons your car battery won’t charge.

Bernard Juchli
Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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