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Backwards Driving

I was wondering if it would be possible to permanently damage a car’s drivetrain and engine by pushing it backwards while the car is in a forward gear. I doubt it, but I’m not sure.


How far and how fast? What kind of car?

…and does this mystery vehicle have an automatic transmission or a manual trans?

Automatic transmission, car in gear , engine off, short distance (pushing around the driveway), probably no damage. Engine on or long distance probably will have damage to tranny, torque converter will take the brunt of it. Manual transmission in gear, damage to engine (running or not, it won’t be running after it is pushed backwards) as it will be forced to turn backwards, tranny should be OK, depending on distance clutch may get beat up

The exact situation I’m imagining is two cars in a forward gear, both trying to push the other. One does not get pushed backwards at all and takes no damage.

Sort of like a tug of war, but pushing instead of pulling? You can expect body damage and wheel spin, and it’s probably not good for anything in the drivetrain. It will be stressful to the powertrain as a whole, and will likely result in body damage. Not most people’s idea of a good time.

I am sure many NASCAR type vehicles end up getting pushed backwards while the manual trans in in a forward gear,doesn’t seem to bother them.But that’s racing.

  1. I said engine and drivetrain damage. I know there would be body damage.
  2. I meant that one vehicle would force the other to roll backwards.

The clutch is out.

“Sort of like a tug of war”

More like sumo wrestling.

If it is an automatic, the torque converter will heat up the fluid, which will degrade due to heat can cause transmission damage eventually.

If it is a manual, you are asking the clutch to transmit a lot of torque while slipping and it can start smoking. If you let the engine stall, it might run backward, without any oil pressure.

Do you mean in all cases the driver is pushing on the clutch pedal? I don’t believe this is certain in all cases.

I interpet “the clutch is out” to mean the engine is connected to the trans,the trans is connected the the diff and the diff is connected to the ground via the axels and tires. Are you really trying to say “the clutch is in”? as clutch is out would not help disconnect anything.

I mean what you think I would mean if I said “the clutch is in.”