How To Turn Engine Over With Breaker Bar Manually – Quick Guide

how to turn engine over with breaker bar

For professionals and regular DIYers, writing a whole article on this topic might be making a mountain out of a molehill.

But I know what pain I had to go through when I first learned the technique. There was no one to talk with. Well, actually, there was, but my masculinity hindered me.

So, only with the internet as my mentor, I had to spend the entire weekend getting it right.

You don’t have to do the same. If you wanna know how to turn engine over with breaker bar like a pro, follow the steps and the precautions mentioned here.

Steps for Turning over the Engine Manually

These steps explain how you can manually turn over an engine with a breaker bar. However, they are only for the crankshaft.

Step 1: Get the right Breaker bar and adapter

Turning over the Engine Manually with breaker bar

This is the first thing you need to do. Lots of people use torque wrenches. Don’t do that. Get a breaker bar.

You need a ratcheting breaker bar. Make sure that it ratchets in both ways. Although you will need a clockwise torque most of the time, it’s better to have the option.

However, we would like to mention that the torque wrench will be able to do the job. But only use it if you can take the benefit is more than the risk of a damaged torque wrench. More on that after the steps.

Step 2: Things to do before the turning

Without getting the gears to neutral, you won’t be able to turn the shaft. This should be obvious to any driver. You can also have someone step on the clutch. Getting the spark plugs out also makes the job easier and safer. You can also put the engine in a park (auto).

Step 3: Find crankshaft flywheel

You need to know the location of the flywheel flange of the crankshaft. It will be at the lower side of the assembled engine. It is connected to the crankshaft and also connected to the camshaft with the timing belts. Although we have included some pictures, you should google it if you are finding it hard to locate the crank wheel front bolt.

Step 4: Turn the crankshaft

There will be a bolt in the center of the flywheel or crank pulley. It could be deep in the engine, making it hard to see. Try to get an idea of the bolt size and attach an adapter with your breaker bar if requires.

Then steadily torque the bolt clockwise. You will feel the resistance increasing. It could get really hard but don’t stop turning. You are not strong enough to break anything in the engine.

The resistance will start to die down when you feel a slight air release. There could be some clicks as well. But don’t stop. Keep rotating it even after you feel it is completely smooth. Because it can get hard again in the next revolution after being smooth for half a revolution.

If it gets harder again, repeat the same process. After turning three or four revolutions with perfect smoothness, you can be confident to leave it at that.

Breaker Bar Vs. Torque Wrench

We had discussed before that there were almost no online sources that accurately show the process of turning over the engine with manual tools. And a big mistake that most people make is using torque wrenches for turning the shaft. You will even find a lot of popular YouTube videos making the same mistake.

This can ruin your torque wrench. Putting too much pressure on the torque wrench can mess up the calibration or even damage the mechanics of the wrench permanently.

And you don’t know how much resistance the shaft can put up. So, you need a ratcheting breaker bar for the job.

Things You Need to Keep In Mind When Turning Over Your Engine

Here are some cautionary things that you need to keep in check-

  • Your hand could get pretty close to the radiator when turning the shaft. If it is hot, you will get burned.
  • Use an extended pole or cheater bar if the shaft is stuck too hard.
  • Only rotate clockwise. It will distort the timing between the crankshaft and the camshaft if you don’t. If you mistakenly turn it counterclockwise, then turn it back in the opposite motion again more than you have turned counterclockwise.
  • If you can’t turn it with all your power and the correct ratcheting bar, you need to see a mechanic. You probably have a valve train binding up or a bent connecting rod. Rust can also be a problem.

Final Words

If you made it so far, you must be new to automobile mechanics. And I know there are million other ways to fix the same problems. But knowing how to turn engine over with breaker bar solves a lot of them very easily.

So, your welcome, bye.


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