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Putting automatic car in neutral when stopped


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#1 mikebai1990

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 01:09 PM

I'd like to see your opinions on the subject of whether or not an automatic transmission car should be put in neutral when coming to a red light. I personally don't have any knowledge or opinion on the subject, but I have seen some people do it with their cars. One side of the argument is that this way there will be less load on the car when stopped. The other side of the argument is that the constantly engaging from drive to neutral will cause more wear and tear on the transmission. Whaddya guys think?

#2 velobard

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 01:22 PM

Automatic transmissions are engineered to be driven with it in drive, including stop lights, etc. Shifting to neutral all those extra times will just cause the linkage to wear sooner.

#3 tyymm

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 02:02 PM

Like velobard stated, the automatic transmissions are designed to be driven in stop and go traffic. Just read your owners manual. I know in mine, it specifically states that the only time that the transmission should be shifted out of drive (to either park or neutral) when the car is on is when the car will be stopped for an extended amount of time.

#4 blkZ28Conv

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 03:22 PM

You lose an important element for bringing your vehicle to a stop by disengaging the transmission - engine braking. This practice will also increase brake pad wear because of the increased work perform without engine assistence.

Safety wish, you are in no immediate position to accelerate if necessary.

Foolish practice IMHO.
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#5 DFTowel

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 06:33 AM

...Foolish practice IMHO.


VERY foolish and VERY dangerous actually!

#6 velobard

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 07:17 AM

Perhaps I should mention that automatic transmissions are actually designed to be pretty tough, standing up to wear and tear FAR beyond idling in drive. When I was a test driver at GM they sometimes did abusive tests that involved putting the car in neutral, running the engine to red-line, dropping it in drive, spinning the wheels until you reached a line about 6' down the pavement, slamming it into reverse, back into drive, and repeating the cycle anywhere from 6 to 50 times. It was a good way to make a big cloud of tire smoke.

One guy I worked with passionately hated Corvettes after he had to do several of these 50 cycle tests in one. With the power and traction that 'Vettes have, he said by the 4th shift his lower back felt ready to give out but he still had 46 more to go.

#7 Guy

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 07:20 AM

Perhaps I should mention that automatic transmissions are actually designed to be pretty tough, standing up to wear and tear FAR beyond idling in drive. When I was a test driver at GM they sometimes did abusive tests that involved putting the car in neutral, running the engine to red-line, dropping it in drive, spinning the wheels until you reached a line about 6' down the pavement, slamming it into reverse, back into drive, and repeating the cycle anywhere from 6 to 50 times. It was a good way to make a big cloud of tire smoke.

One guy I worked with passionately hated Corvettes after he had to do several of these 50 cycle tests in one. With the power and traction that 'Vettes have, he said by the 4th shift his lower back felt ready to give out but he still had 46 more to go.


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#8 Kanchou

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 10:42 AM

You lose an important element for bringing your vehicle to a stop by disengaging the transmission - engine braking.


he said it was already at a stop.

But also, putting the auto car in neutral, doesn't that stop the ATF from churning?

#9 truzoom

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 10:45 AM

This sounds like false logic one would derive from driving a vehicle with a manual transmission.
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#10 blkZ28Conv

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 02:45 PM

he said it was already at a stop.


Please re-read the initial post carefully.

I'd like to see your opinions on the subject of whether or not an automatic transmission car should be put in neutral when coming to a red light...
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#11 jdhutchin

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 03:38 PM

I wouldn't do it either- as others have said, the transmission is designed to stay in drive, it's smart enough to disengage when you're stopped. This just seems like a lot of the other "car advice" that seems to pop up everywhere with no real backing other than "it sounds good".

#12 mikebai1990

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 03:54 PM

blkz28conv, I'm sorry for not stating this clearly, but I actually meant to ask whether or not to put it in neutral when at a complete stop. Sorry for the ambiguous original question.

#13 velobard

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 05:20 PM

I still stand by my original answer. They're designed for stop and go driving. I'm willing to wager if you suggested putting it in neutral like this to a transmission design engineer, you'd get a good laugh in return.

#14 blkZ28Conv

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 01:56 AM

blkz28conv, I'm sorry for not stating this clearly, but I actually meant to ask whether or not to put it in neutral when at a complete stop. Sorry for the ambiguous original question.


No problem Mike.

I still would not engage neutral at a stop light in case I suddenly must move (i.e accident about to occur :( ) Those few milliseconds needed to re-engage may make the difference between just having a terrible scare and avoiding an accident.
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#15 mikebai1990

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 04:03 AM

Thanks, guys, you've been a big help! I knew autopia was the place to get answers :)

#16 deadlock32

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:24 AM

One side of the argument is that this way there will be less load on the car when stopped.


Nope, the torque converter takes care of that ^_^

#17 Accumulator

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 10:27 AM

deadlock32- :xyxthumbs That's just what I was gonna say.

Note that, in addition to all the other good points that were mentioned, there's a little driveline shock every time you shift into gear. No reason to subject your driveline to that any more than you have to.
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#18 velobard

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 11:12 AM

Note that, in addition to all the other good points that were mentioned, there's a little driveline shock every time you shift into gear. No reason to subject your driveline to that any more than you have to.

Yeah, I'm quite familiar with that "little driveline shock" after my days torture testing at GM. Dropping it in gear from redline, then slamming it from drive to reverse repeatedly gets your attention. Always made me glad it was someone else's car.

#19 Kanchou

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 01:22 PM

Please re-read the initial post carefully.

I'd like to see your opinions on the subject of whether or not an automatic transmission car should be put in neutral when coming to a red light...



Oops. :o but it looks like he rephrased what he meant.

Hey I got a quick question, when the auto car is in neutral or park, is the tranny still pumping fluid in the whole system?

#20 DodgeRacer

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 06:50 PM

Originally posted by Kanchou
Hey I got a quick question, when the auto car is in neutral or park, is the tranny still pumping fluid in the whole system?


Anytime the engine is running, the pump is running,. so the answer is yes. In park and neutral, there are clutches that are not applied, so no gears are engaged.




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