Automatic transmission idling





I have tried it but I get embarrassed when I try to move with the transmission in neutral. Now, I don’t sweat the small stuff.


I would leave it in gear with foot on brake at any light. I would switch to neutral or even turn off the engine at a train crossing.


I would shut off my CAPS LOCK.


If it is an extremly long lite like more then 7 min then put it in neutral. But then again it maters what kind of car you have. I would not do it because i forget to put it back on drive and i end up reving the engin and people be hind me get mad and also because of emergency movments. going from nutral to drive takes time.


On level ground I always place my transmission out of gear and release the brake. Why? 1st, because it generates less heat in the Torque Converter and 2nd, if someone hits me from behind, there will be less damage to the rear of my vehicle, assuming I have left ample room between me the the vehicle ahead of me. This is because my car will be bounced ahead rather than absorb all the shock of the collision with the brakes held. And I always remember to place it back into drive before departing. I rest my hand on the gear shifter as a reminder.


Yes, you might save your car from some damage. But take it from someone who’s been rear-ended more than once, if you’re hit hard enough to suffer car damage, then your head is really going to snap backwards. A correctly adjusted headrest and a firm foot on the brake is the best defense.


If it is a short light, say 1 minute or so, I leave my foot on the brake.

If it is a longer light or, say, a train crossing, I put my car in Park, rather than in Neutral. When the car is in Park, that locks the transmission, so it acts as a brake as well.


And if you get hit it’s curtains for your transmission.

There’s absolutely NO reason to put the car in park at a stoplight. Or to shift from drive, at all. If you have a car with a really rough idle or some other idling issue that is made better by being in neutral, then shift to N. Don’t use Park on the roadways, EVER.

Other than the above mentioned situation, you should always be in drive. If something happens and you need to get out of the way fast, all you have to do is release the brake and hit the gas.

As for damage to your car if you’re rear ended, the damage to your neck will be far more substantial if your car undergoes a sudden acceleration. If you have your foot on the brake, the bumper and rear end absorb the force of the hit and the tires brace the car because the brakes are on. If you have the brake released, the car bounces away from the other car reducing the damage to the rear end, but your head whiplashes back with far more intense acceleration.

All reasons why the transmission should remain in DRIVE and you should firmly press the brake.



I think that sitting for 1 min isn’t really going to do anything, and plus it takes longer to shift out of neutral, especially when you forget.


Ding ding ding, give the man a prize.

There always seems to be someone willing to decry the excessive heat and wear that somehow get build up idling in drive. Fact of the matter is, your transmission cooler is more than capable of dissipating the excess heat that is created in that situation.

The only way I can see that it would be beneficial to put the car in neutral at idle would be if you are towing or have climbed a very steep grade, and your transmission is really hot. THEN it might be beneficial to give it all of the cooling it can get by throwing the vehicle in neutral. But for normal driving? Pfft. Set and forget it, as they say.


I used to put my automatic in neutral at stop lights … after about 2 years the shift mechanism wore out (inside the transmission). My advise … leave the shift in drive.


Good question. My wife and I have argued about this some, so I’m really interested in a solid answer.

I have 10+ years experience driving a manual trans. so I feel when in an automatic, I feel very comfortable shifting from D to N whenever I wish. At stop lights I would prefer to shift to N to conserve gas, but my wife strongly asks that I not (when in her car). When I get my own automatic soon, I’m planning to do this, but I’d like to have a more solid argument available.

I see that one poster had mechanical troubles by doing this, so that does deter me, but I’m hoping that was just a fluke and not guaranteed to happen to me.

Any comments about automatic idling and how it concerns gas will be very helpful.

Thanks in advance.


The amount of gas you would save by shifting into neutral would be so slight as to not be measurable by normal means. There are also the safety reasons mentioned by others. Add to this the additional wear of engaging the transmission many times over the course of a trip and you are way behind in any possible savings. Do yourself and the transmission a favor and leave it in Drive.