Coasting a manual car - NOT downhill

I have a fairly manual transmission with 6 forward speeds, so my gear ratios are pretty close. Since i have been told REPEATEDLY not to shift down more than 2 gears at a time when I downshift, I was wondering if there was anything that would acatually damage the car if, for example, a light were to turn red some ways ahead of me, I put it into neutral, came all the way off the clutch, coasted and waited until the light changed, and then engaged the clutch and resumed into third gear at 30 mph or whatever the appropriate speed/gear was.

I live in a resort area with a LOT of traffic lights in random places, but most of the time I’m in 6th gear because our speed limit is above 55 mph, and if I downshift the whole way through, I’m actually using my breaks AND clutch a lot more than if I go neutral and then back into a gear. Is this going to hurt the car?

(Totally not talking about coasting down hills or coasting to gather speed here - I don’t do that.)

And yes, I know that technically it is illegal in most states to coast your vehicle.

Most people have told me it’s fine to do from a mechanical standpoint, but I just thought I’d ask some people who might be more expert-ish, lest I kill the new car. Thanks!

I wouldn’t do it, but not for mechanical reasons; because it wastes fuel. Computerized cars with fuel injection usually shut off fuel when you coast in gear. When you coast in neutral, the engine needs fuel to idle.

Who told you not to downshift more than two gears at a time and why? As long as you don’t lug the engine, or rev the engine too high, you can skip as many gears as you want.

Consider the cost of a new set of brakes and clutch and then compare that to the cost of a new transmission. One transmission will cost more than all the rest.

On long downhill runs, that would otherwise require using the brakes, down shifting is safer than using brakes because the brakes can overheat.

I would not generally drop two gears at a time. But I agree with Whitey including his advice about the two gears at a time.

To whitey: Yes, I did know it was better for fuel economey to always be in gear, but I average 27-29 and I’m happy enough with that that currently with the traffic I’d take convenience over saving a few cents, if that’s all it comes down to.

Joseph, I did very specifically say I was NOT talking about coasting on a downhill stretch that would require using breaks.

Yes, one transmission would cost more - that’s why I’m trying to find someone who would give me a reason for why this would be bad for the transmission, IF it would. The cars behaves perfectly normal, doesn’t rev, pull, or make any unpleasant sounds if I coast and then put it back into gear, assuming I’m putting it back into the right gear.

Both the manual for my car, and the mechanics at the dealership, and virtually every person who I know with a manual trasmissions that HASN’T blown through 3 transmissions in 5 years has said not to downshift more than 2 gears at a time. Perhaps they’re wrong and this is just something they tell people these days in hopes to prolong their transmissions life in case they do it incorrectly, I’d be willing to believe that too.

You only have to use all your gears to accelerate, not to stop. The manufacturer did not intend the transmission to be used as braking system, only as a braking assist as spelled out in every owners manual. Neutral in general, is only used when stopped. Otherwise, it’s a transition state when going from one gear to another. Having a car in gear all the time (with few exceptions) is the safest way to drive…
Using manual transmissions is like playing golf. Over thinking it seems to always get you in trouble.

Years ago, cars equipped with the Borg Warner overdrive transmission were free wheeling before the accelerator was released and the overdrive kicked in. In other words, the when you released the accelerator, the car would coast. The 2 stroke Saab was also free-wheeling unless a knob was pulled to lock out the free wheeling feature. This was necessary because the engine was lubricated through the fuel/oil mixture and when the accelerator was released, the engine bearings would be starved for lubrication. When you coast, you are just duplicating what cars with free wheeling did back in the old days.
In your case, when you are going back into gear, you should try to match the engine speed with the car speed for that particular gear. Truck drivers do this all the time.

^ This is exactly what I was talking about, as far as matching the engine speed and putting it in the approriate gear. Just wanted to make sure this was okay for the car from a purely mechanical standpoint, though I couldn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be. :slight_smile: Thank you!

…virtually every person who I know with a manual trasmissions that HASN’T blown through 3 transmissions in 5 years has said not to downshift more than 2 gears at a time.

Are you talking about downshifting to slow the vehicle, or are you talking about other circumstances?

I can think of a couple scenarios where it is fine to downshift more than two gears. Suppose you are in 5th gear, and the light in front of you turns red. You press the clutch and the brake to slow the vehicle, and just as you slow to about 3 MPH, the light turns green. I see absolutely no reason why you can’t shift from 5th to 2nd and go, which is three gears. Suppose you are driving on an interstate highway in 6th gear, and someone in a red jump suit runs across the highway in front of your car, followed by two correctional officers (I’ve seen it happen!). You press the clutch and the brake to avoid running over the correctional officers, and find yourself going 25 MPH. I see absolutely no reason you can’t shift from 6th gear to 2nd or 3rd gear and go, unless the correctional officers tackle the inmate in the middle of the highway and cuff him while you wait (Yes, I’ve seen it happen!).

I suppose a little coasting is okay if you are ready to shift back into gear at a moment’s notice. Those antiquated laws about coasting are still on the books because there is very little reason to remove them, but they were created mainly for truckers, whose manual transmissions don’t have synchronizers. They were also created at a time when an idling engine could easily die without notice, cutting power to the steering and the brakes, but again, this is less of a concern with your car. You should consider, however, that even a slight safety advantage is a safety advantage.

Just to qualify, I drive a 12 year old car with 190,000 miles on the odometer, and it still has its original clutch and its original transmission.

I can’t see the reason why around town" driving even benifits from using 6th gear. This is a gear designed with highway use in mind. Keep it in 5th at most around town then there are less potential situations encountered to drop two gears.

I can’t imagine any kind of acceleration available in 6th gear.

In any case “hurting the car” is not an issue (how could it hurt the car?) just dont rest your hand on the shifter, now that can hurt the car.

“Around town” driving here is 70 miles of beach roads where the speed limit is 50-60 mph, which, obviously, aside from the patches of traffic lights, is much more similar to a highway than a city center. When I’m going 60 mph, I get much better fuel economy in 6th gear. “Around town” driving depends greatly on where your town is.

60mph still does not qualify for the use of 6th gear,You must keep in mind that you do not want to “lug” the engine. lugging the engine gets much closer to hurting the car than dropping two gears at a time does. Have you really done the mpg testing or is this just a “well the needle did not move so much today so it must be better”. Many people both use incorrect methods to test mpg and flat out “fib” about gas mileage, it has to be in the top 3 things that men “tell stories” about.

Depends on what the ratio of the 6th gear is. On the Genesis coupe 6th gear is a 0.79 ratio, which is actually shorter than some other car’s 5th gear. The 5th gear in my car is a 0.63 ratio, and I routinely use 5th gear whilst loafing along at 45 MPH. I’m only turning about 1200-1300 RPM, but I’m not lugging the engine. I see nothing wrong with the OP using 6th gear at 60 MPH at he’s turning more that 2000 RPM at that speed in 6th gear, he’s not lugging the engine by any stretch.

Oldschool: 1) Since presumably you don’t own/haven’t driven my car, I think it’s somewhat excessive to tell me what speeds I need to shift out at/what my gear ratios are. My engine does not lug at all in 6th gear at 60 mph. This is in the range for 6th gear on my vehicle. I’m not stupid, and this isn’t the first stick I’ve driven. I know what an engine sounds and feels like when it lugs, as well as what it sounds and feels like when it revs. My RPM sits right around 2500-2800 at 57-67 in 6th, which is exaclty where I want it. I shift out of other gears at 3000-3500.
2) I’ve done the mpg testing because I wanted to see how accurate it was compared to the onboard computer that is tracking it, as it is all digital. It’s quite accurate, and I’m quite pleased with it.
3) I’m a woman, and feel no need whatsoever to “tell stories” about anything related to my car, least of all my fuel economy. My automatic compact car is much more fuel efficient, and I have no problem admitting that. Unlike most men who impulse buy cars or are set on having something because it has THAT LOOK, I did extensive research and shopping around before I bought the car in the first place.

FoDaddy: Yes. Thanks. Lol.

If the OP feels compeled to downshift to accelerate a partial definition of what lugging the engine is satisfied. Using an onboard computer to calculate mpg has been discussed and dismissed many times on the Forum, you must use the old miles driven divided by gallons used to get a true picture.

You have lost one of your techniques to negotiate youself out of a potetintal accident when you have given up your abilitly to accelerate without downshifting, you only have one chance to make that shift and drive your way out of potential harm.I have drive plenty of cars and none deliver what I would accept as 'accident avoiding acceleration" from 6th gear. Myself I would be very disappointed if my engine was still turning above 2500 at 60 in 6th, this is no route to mileage, so what is it you have in 6th at 60, good mileage or accident avoiding acceleration, you can’t have both at your level of vehicle? One of the reasons people cite why they want a manual trans is that it allows them control over their engine, you have given up a large measure of this control lugging around in 6th at 60 or 45 in 5 ft, better not miss that shift.

Now lets see who must have to have the last word, it’s not me.

Lol. You seem intent on arguing to hear yourself talk. The topic was not what my gear ration was or what gear I needed to be in, I’ve got that under control, thank you. My car does not lug at 60 in 6th, if you do an internet search you will find several pages about the gear ratio and that it is perfectly fine at 60 in 6th and what it spins at at that level. I feel that this topic is closed. If you would like to believe that it does, or say snippy things about the quality of my vehicle, by all means you may do so :slight_smile:
I got a manual transmission because it is what the default is on the vehicle, and since I like driving stick anyway, I wasn’t going to pay $1600 for an automatic.
Also, if perhaps you could read closely, I said that I calculated the mileage TO COMPARE IT with the computer. So yes, I have calculated it several times in the 9 months that I have had the vehicle. The computer is close, but gives a slightly higher mileage rate, as I imagine they all do. Again however, this was not what the topic was about. :slight_smile:
Saying “let’s see who has to have the last word, it isn’t me” is especially passive agressive and not especially mature, particularly after you have, in fact, just argued with people who already feel they have made something clear to you ehich you refuse to listen to. you may want to work on that.
So in effect, since it was my topic to start with, the last word is that I appreciate those of you who actually answered the original question, as opposed to trying to lecture on things that were completely off topic :slight_smile:
If anyone else has anything to offer about the coasting in neutral and picking up a gear, please feel free. I consider the question answered between the forum posts and my real life chats with various people, including the three extended family members that are mechanics that I should have just called in the first place and skipped this nonsense, but if anyone has any other input that would be fine also. Thanks all!

Be careful when you skip gears on wet ground, especially if you don’t habitually rev match. Dumping the clutch after such a downshift on wet ground may cause a skid. Other than that, I’m all for skipping gears as necessary.

OK here it is,short and too the point, if you were not lugging your vehicle in 6th there would be no reason to have too drop down more than one gear, I hope this is at a level you can comprehend, I am trying to make it as easy as possible on you.

"My automatic compact car is much more fuel efficient, and I have no problem admitting that."
I think you’ve answered your own question…imagine it were a 6 peed auto and shift accordingly; down shift only when the engine speed drops to near idle, other wise, keep it in the appropriate gear for the speed you’re traveling and not neutral. It’s worked for most and unless you really need engine braking assist, it’s what the engineers intended.

What you’re doing is perfectly harmless.

The only risk when downshifting more than one gear is if the car were still coasting at too high a speed for the gear you’re in when you reengage such that there’s a dramatic difference in the speed of the flywheel and pressure plate (the engine speed) and the speed of the clutch disc (splined to the transmission input shaft). You’d then have a slowly spinning “clamp” (pressure plate against flywheel) suddenly clamping a rapidly spinning clutch disc. That sends a shockwave through the drivetrain. And it’s pretty rough on the clutch, too.

Bottom line: as long as the relative speeds between the tranny input shaft as driven by the rolling wheels and the engine are similar, you’ll do no harm. The gear you’re in determines how fast that tranny input shaft will be spinning.

If what you’re doing is smooth, you’re fine.

The OP’s car has either 210 HP or 306 HP in a smaller than average car. Even with the turbo 4 the torque peak is at around 2300 RPM, which is about where the revs would be in 6th gear at highway speads. The car has more ummph at in 6th gear at highway speeds than most cars do. My car has well over 400 HP and about 400 ft./lbs of torque. and a 4.10 rear end gear. If I were to suddenly drop down to say 3th at 45 MPH and stand on the gas, I’d get nothing but wheelspin. The car is still plenty responsive at low revs in high gear. If I was driving something like a Smart or a Geo, then yeah I would probably not be comfortable having the engine at that low a speed. I do see the point you’re trying to make, but there are many different cars out there, and blanket statments don’t always hold true.

But the OP is misinformed in the respect that downshifting two gears will somehow damage the car, it won’t. And costing in neutral is never a good idea.