Car without overdrive

Is it not a good idea to drive a car 1500 miles if the car doesn’t have overdrive? I own a 2000 cheverolet prizm with about 100,000 miles on it. I have made this trek before, there and back (a total of 3000 miles) and the car was okay, but I’ve heard that it is not good for the car. Any insight is appreciated. Thanks!!

I assume you mean that it has overdrive, but the overdrive doesn’t work?

Believe or not they were still make Corollas/Prizms with a 3 speed automatic in 2000. I didn’t believe it either, but apparently overdrive was not standard across the board in 2000.

It doesn’t have overdrive at all. Unfortunately.

Then, I don’t see why you think that it is a problem to drive it.
Drive the car, eventually, it will suffer a major breakdown, but a few long trips are better for it than a bunch of short ones.
Don’t drive the car, it will still eventually fail, but it will last longer. Of course even though it lasted longer, it served no purpose for you if you couldn’t use it.

Overdrive was mainly added as fuel saving device. I had a 1984 Impala with a 3 speed automatic, and a 1988 Caprice with a 4 speed, with overdrive. When you are trailer towing or going up a steep slope, the manual tell you to take it OUT OF OVERDRIVE.

Between 1949 and the early 80s almost no US car had overdrive. A number of European imports did to save fuel.

So, a car without overdrive is designed to run that way.

Who told you it was a “bad” idea?

I’m really glad to hear that. My dad was the one who told me that. :slight_smile:

In this case, your dad was not correct. The Chevrolet we had without the overdrive lived a very long life, and had over 300,000 miles on it when we sold it. At that time the engine still ran perfectly and did not consume oil. It just used a little more gas than the 4 speed 1988 Caprice with the overdive.

Mine did use some oil when coming back on our trip, but once we filled it back up, it’s been fine ever since and that was a year ago. But I’ll take some oil with me just incase. Thank you so much for your help!

You are welcome! Most older cars use some oil, and fast driving on a long distance uses more than short trip stop and go driving. Many cars are actually designed so they use a little oil. With 100,000 miles on your car, a little oil consumption is entirely normal. Just check the level every second tankful of gas or every few weeks. Make sure you add the oil it calls for in the manual, likley 5W30.

Our Chevrolet had a big V8 and that type of engine used very little oil.

Happy motoring!

Between 1949 and the early 80s almost no US car had overdrive.

Actually, there were a lot of cars equipped with overdrive beginning in the mid 1930’s through 1969. The unit was made by Borg-Warner and was usually coupled to a 3 speed manual transmission. It was usually an option and its purpose was two-fold: 1) give better highway mileage; and 2) reduce engine rpm on the highway. This option was typically a $100 option. The overdrive was offered by the independent manufacturers (Nash, Hudson, Packard, Studebaker and Kaiser-Frazer), Chrysler through 1941 and then again on Chrysler products beginning with the 1952 models, Ford products in 1949 through about 1969, Chevrolet beginning with the 1955 models and probably discontinued in the mid-1960’s. Jeep Station wagons which came out in 1946 made the Borg-Warner overdrive standard so that the 4 cylinder “Go Devil” engine wouldn’t over-rev at highway speeds.

When the automatic transmission became a popular option or standard equipment, U.S. manufacturers quit offering the Borg Warner overdrive as an option and Borg Warner ceased making this unit. Later, the U.S. manufacturers incorporated the overdrive into the automatic transmission. I do remember the Plymouth and Dodge Valiants, Darts, Dusters and Demons offering a 4 speed manual transmission where the 4th speed was an overdrive. I think that the top gear on the VW Beetle was an overdrive. The last vehicle that I drove that was equipped with a Borg Warner overdrive behind a 3 speed manual transmission was a 1969 Ford F-100 pickup truck.

When looking for a used Prism, I found the OD auto was hard to find used and settled on the 5 speed manual. We had The 3 speed auto 86 Nova that we used to 160K miles and the next owner went well over 200K with it. It was noisy on the interstate, but kept the speed at or below 65 mph and it’s fine; noisy but fine.

Thanks for the clarification Triedaq; I was aware of all that. In terms of sales volume, though, the percentage of cars with overdrive was very small. Not all Studebakers had it and I was referring to automatics to convince OP that he was driving a normal car.

Overdrives on imports were much more popular because gas prices in Europe were almost 3 times what they were in the US after the war.

Yes, the 4th gear in the original Beetle was overdrive.

I used to wonder why the American manufacturers used the Borg Warner automatic overdrive instead of building an overdrive gear into the transmission. I finally concluded that it was done so that drivers wouldn’t lug the engine by shifting into overdrive at too low a speed. The Borg Warner overdrive wouldn’t engage until about 30 miles per hour, and was engaged by releasing the accelerator.

The car is perfectly fine with it. Some economy engines don’t have the oomph to pull a car through 70 mph of wind resistance with a greater than 1:1 ratio. They need to rev a bit more to stay comfortable. Fortunately, engines today rev far easier and more comfortably than engines used to when your dad was young. They come out of the factory far more balanced, far smoother, and with less rotating mass, all due to vastly improved design and manufacturing technologies and vastly better material options for the parts. They’ll rev higher far longer.

Sleep well. Your car will be fine.

It’s not that big a deal Butterfly…Cars with overdrives usually have a lower final drive ratio to provide better acceleration performance. Then they use the overdrive to reduce the RPM while cruising and still get good mileage… Your car will have a higher final gear ratio so it’s RPM at cruising speed will not be that much higher than cars equipped with overdrive.

1500 mile trips is why God created Crown Victorias and Grand Marquis!!:slight_smile:

I think that overdrive is an archaic term and a convenient solution to higher cruising mileage. The overall gearing determines how fast an engine spins at cruising speed. Nowadays, cars generally come with overdrive MT and yet they are geared lower than their AT counterpart, hence the lower mileage rating for MT.

I think that the optimal approach to efficiency is to have direct drive top gear with tall final drive, just like BMW had done in the past. Overdrive means more gear teeth are slipping past each other while transmitting torque and that is an extra source of friction.

Back to the OP’s concern, just because the engine is spinning faster without overdrive, it doesn’t mean that it is working harder. The lower torque required each revolution offsets the lower engine speed with overdrive. Generally, a combination of aerodynamic drag of the car, road friction, temperature, steepness of the climb, and to a small extent weight determines how hard the engine works on a long road trip.

I agree. Many modern engines spin at much higher rates and have better longevity, mileage and performance motors of old. Honda, a huge proponent of power through higher rpms definitely makes reliable engines capable of cruising at 3000 plus all day long and still outlasting “loafing” motors.

If the car made it 100,000 miles without overdrive, what’s so special about the next 3,000 miles that would make it bad for the car?

I have someone selling a 2000 bravada oldsmobile…It has no overdrive he says…Is it a good buy or not without OD?
Thanks :slight_smile: