Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Hand cranking my engine

I want to crank my engine (a 22R) by hand. I have a vague memory of having done it in the distant past, but I can’t remember what I did - I’m unremembering more and more. The videos on YouTube show engines with all the belts and pulley wheels removed, if not the engine taken out. I know how to do it if I do all that, but I’d rather not. What’s the minimum I need to do?

Find out what direction the crankshaft turns. One way is to watch the big pulley while the engine is running, or being turned over by the starter motor. Turn it in that direction only, using a wrench or socket grasping the bolt that holds the big pulley.

If you want less resistance, remove the spark plugs.

I can tell you that, without even being there

If you stand in front of the engine, facing the harmonic balancer, the engine rotates clockwise

Most engines do, with some Hondas being a notable exception. There’s probably other exceptions, but Honda readily comes to mind

Don’t bother removing pulleys and belts

Use a long . . . at least 18" . . . 1/2" drive breaker and the appropriate size socket on the front crank pulley

That is the minimum you need to do

Hopefully this is not to try and start it. That was a good engine why do you want to try and hand crank it?

Setting valve lash comes to mind.

On a Honda Civic I once drove, I would just put the car in fifth gear and pull the car towards me until the crank was in the correct position to adjust the next valve.

1 Like

No need to remove the pulley.

I have a 20r engine in my Celica.I use a 19mm wrench.
You would want to turn engine by hand to check valve lash (as someone mentioned), in addition to being able to check for timing chain stretch.

As shanonia suggested, it should be easier to do with plugs removed.

1 Like

Does it matter?

Not-starting the engine is why I want to do this.

By this you mean the one on the bottom of the engine, to the pulley wheels of which every belt runs? I’ll have to take off the gravel guard and lie on the ground.

Loosening them so the cylinders don’t pressurize would work as well, right?

I have those. The front crank pulley is the one on the bottom?

Isn’t there a danger of over-tightening the bolt? After I replaced my water pump I over-tightened and cracked a pulley wheel.

Horrors no! I want to keep my fingers… The battery is disconnected.

I just changed the oil and want to make room for the last pint without starting it.

That’s a good idea. I have 5th gear. I can push it. I’ve push-started it alone.

Wait, what?


You are trying to funny are you not ? Why would you even think of this ?


Ten seconds of running the engine @ 600 RPMs is enough to fill the filter with oil and push most of the air through the engine. To do this by hand rotate the engine for 100 revolutions, might only take one hour.


Because I want to get it done, I have no reason to drive any time soon, starting an engine and running it for a few seconds is bad for the engine. I’ve been trying to think of a trip worth taking. If I do, I’ll take that trip and add the oil on the first stop.

Is 100 revs the minimum? I was hoping a few would do.

I remember when these came with crank handles for starting. I’ve also heard of rope starts: jack up the rear end, wrap a rope around a wheel, pull.

It uh… It kinda sounds to me like you need something to do. :wink:


Yes. On an aged engine with a hydraulic timing chain tensioner turning the engine backwards has been known to cause the chain to jump a tooth or two. I’ve personally seen it happen.

I disagree with Nevada on this point. I believe that turning the engine by hand and a breaker bar, you will never generate enough speed to prime the oil filter. 100 turns or 1,000.

So start it and run it for 10 minutes.

In an old local car radio show, some of the folks talked about pulling the coil wire and cranking the engine with the starter motor until the oil pressure came up. Or fill the oil filter first. Doesn’t take very long but you’ll need to connect the battery for a minute. Not a bad idea anyway.

1 Like

Following an oil change it’s advisable to run the engine for a few minutes at a speed that generates full oil pressure to see whether there are leaks such as at the oil filter gasket. Assuming you drained the oil when warm, the wear surfaces will still be oiled and combustion chamber at least warm so there will be little of the wear or condensation associated with a cold start.

As others have recommended, you can pre-fill the filter - all the way if vertical and partially if otherwise.

I prefill the filter when I change my motorcycle’s oil. There’s more to it than just pouring oil into the opening, you have to also temporarily defeat the anti-drainback valve or else an air lock will prevent the filter from filling.

That blue rubber ring in this photo is the filter’s anti-drainback valve. The dirty oil enters the filter through the 8 small holes around the outside of the filter and the oil flows from outside to inside of the filter element and then returns to the engine through the center hole which has the threads that screw onto the filter mounting. That blue rubber ring covers those eight little holes and is lifted off the holes when the oil flows in the normal direction. To temporarily defeat the anti-drainback valve, stick a smooth toothpick into one of the small holes. This will give trapped air a chance to escape and allow for complete filling of the oil filter.

When I do this, my motorcycle’s oil light goes out after only a second or so, if I don’t do this, it stays lit for what seems like 10 seconds or so.

1 Like

Of the number of cars that start the engine after an oil change and are still fine I think you are overthinking this. To ease your mind you could put a shot of fogging oil into each cylinder,

On Honda’s early 750 cc motorcycle engines, the crankshaft on the right side of the engine, cylinders three and four, rotates in the “standard” direction, but the crankshaft on the left side of the engine, cylinders one and two rotates in the “reverse” direction.
Can anybody explain why?