As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Can You Put Car in Neutral Without Clutch?


Are you someone who drives cars frequently? Then your intrusive thoughts might be questioning can you put car in neutral without clutch.

The short answer is yes. You can put your car in neutral without the clutch. However, there is a right time and a right way to do it. Putting the car in neutral without the clutch requires speed matching.

Certain risks may arise when doing the same for an extended period.

Keep reading to learn about best practices to shift your car into neutral without using the clutch in both manual and automatic transmissions.

How to Shift to Neutral Without Clutch?

The purpose of the neutral gear is to separate the engine from the wheels. When you put the car in neutral, the engine no longer powers the wheels. You can, however, turn the wheels with the steering wheel.

neutral gear position light sing show close up at car gauge

Normal practice is to press the clutch down with your foot before switching gears or switching to neutral. However, you can put the car in neutral or even change gears without the clutch, provided you have the right speed.

One needs to slow down the car gently while shifting to neutral. The engine speed and the car speed must be on the decline. Pull the lever to the centre slowly from whatever gear it is on, but do not pull with high force. This is for manual transmissions.

For automatic transmission, one must slow down their car before shifting to neutral. Speed matching is necessary to prevent long-term damage to the gears. The clutch helps do the same in manual transmissions. Hence one must have proper knowledge of the car’s speed and engine power before trying to put the car in neutral without the clutch.

When to Shift to Neutral?

Experts always recommend putting your car in neutral when the car is not moving on its own. An example of such a situation is when you are stopping due to traffic lights. It is, however, better not to shift to neutral for automatic transmissions. In addition, one must not use neutral gear when driving at high speed.

You can put the car in neutral when it is being moved by an external force instead of an engine. Examples include moving your car through an automatic car wash, when the tow truck tows your car, or when you are pushing a stuck car physically.

A neutral gear can also help you smoothly shift from other gears to the reverse gear. Moreover, if the brakes do not work for any reason, shifting to neutral is the best way to slow down your car, unless you are on an incline.

What is Neutral Gear in Manual vs Automatic Transmission?

Gear systems can be of two types: Manual and Automatic. A manual transmission requires the driver to shift gears manually from 1 through 5, as the driver changes speed. An automatic transmission adjusts gears by itself and hence does not have a separate lever for the driver.

automatic gear lever closeup

However, both systems have neutral gear, which the driver has to put the car in manually. So let us compare the neutral gear in both.

Manual TransmissionAutomatic Transmission
One has to put the lever at the very centre to go to neutralNeutral is a mode that one can shift to easily with a button
Shifting to neutral does not cause any problems to the carPeople do not recommend shifting to neutral for automatic transmissions
Putting the car in neutral disconnects the gears and the connecting shaftPutting the car in neutral disconnects the clutch discs
You can use neutral to smoothly transition between gearsGears change automatically without going to neutral

One system is not necessarily better than the other. However, shifting to neutral without the clutch in manual transmission requires more effort than automatic.

What Are the Possible Risks Involved?

Shifting to neutral without pressing down the clutch may not cause immediate damage to the car. However, if shifting to neutral is not done properly, certain risks come with it.

Less Control Over the Car

Shifting to neutral without using the clutch reduces the amount of control that you have over the car’s speed. It abruptly cuts the flow of fuel to the car’s engine and disconnects the engine and the wheels. This increases the reaction time in case one needs to change the car’s direction or increase the speed quickly. This can prove to be risky.

The Car May Slip to Neutral

When one puts the car in neutral without using the clutch multiple times for a prolonged period without speed matching, the car may become habituated to it. As a result, it can slip to neutral while driving by accident.

The components that keep the car in gear get worn out when one switches to neutral without using the clutch. The car can slip from gear when the parts are damaged enough over a few years. Fixing this will require a huge amount of money.

Clutch Failure

Shifting to neutral or shifting gears without the clutch can be done easily. However, it can lead to clutch failure in the future. The clutch might also become heavy and difficult to press if one does not engage it continuously.

Leaking transmission fluid due to such shifting can also cause clutch failure. One way to prevent this is to seal the leaks with special fluids. Check out the LUCAS LUC10009 Transmission Fix on Amazon.

One must also keep a check on the transmission fluid levels in automatic transmission cars. It is better to clean the dipstick and check the colour of the fluid regularly. You can use a clean lint-free rag for the same. Check out the Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths on Amazon.


If you find the clutch too heavy to press down when you are a one time driver, you can shift to neutral without using it. You can also put your car in neutral without the clutch if you have a temporary knee problem or heavy leg pains.

It is not recommended to shift gears without using the clutch frequently. One must not shift the car to neutral without using the clutch if they do not know the perfect speed required for it.

If you know your car speed and engine speed properly, you can boldly shift your car to neutral without the clutch when you like it.

Scroll to Top