Does driving back and forth over a mountain daily hurt a car?

My friends swear that driving 15 miles over a 2000 ft. mountain along a windy road here in the Bay Area shouldn’t cause their car to wear out sooner.

Intuitively, this seems wacko. I would think the strain on the engine, suspension, brakes, and transmission would wear out a car way faster than flat land driving Any thoughts.

When I was a kid, we sang a song about the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see. All he saw was the other side of the mountain, but there was nothing in the song about excessive wear and tear on the bear. If one doesn’t lug the engine, which is hard to do with an automatic transmission, I don’t think that any real strain is being placed on the vehicle.

Thanks. I just know that when this old body ambles up a steep incline, I sure feel a lost of strain. It probably helps that the car doesn’t drink beer.

These types of concepts or beliefs have their base established when people attach a human quality to a machine. Depending upon the existance of an underlying condition, that strenous exercise (and the discomfort felt) could possibly indicate damage is being done. Now if your car always went into the red zone on the temp gague when this over the hill drive was made it would be correct to conclude that permenant damage was likely being done.

If you go up the mountain eventually you have to come back down. So while the vehicle is asked to work harder to climb the mountain, it does hardly any work to come back down. So it’s a wash.


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In general, there is not much to the concern with regards to things like the engine or suspension.

But depending on how one drives it over the mountain, relative to, say, just driving on a perfectly flat road at a steady speed,the transmission may do more shifting and the brakes get used more. Both of those are more wear than if the transmission stays in the same gear and the brakes don’t get used.

But I don’t think “wear out a car way faster” is a fair description.

The only thing that gets hammered is the fuel mileage… But when you glide back down the mountain, you get most of that back…It all evens up in the end…

Makes good sense. Thanks.

If you drive it sanely and conservatively, there is no additional strain, stress or wear that you should experience in the long run. Since you have to go down after going up, the resulting strain and ease should balance out. This takes into consideration that you do not ride the brakes on the down grade or drifting around the corners sideways (ala ‘Tokyo Drift’). This also assumes you are not racing beyond the speed limit on the upgrade.

Thanks. From the consensus here, I’m glad I didn’t bet the farm on this one.

The difference is minor if the bay area is in S.F. We all have to drive where we live.

Maybe it wears out at 220,000 instead of 250,000.
So what?
How fastidious they are about maintenance will make a far greater difference.

If you want to make a human comparison, people living in mountainous areas live longer. The longest living humans live in Peru, Georgia (near Russia), the Himalayan countries and other places around the world where they walk uphill on a daily basis. When it comes to cars, your brakes will wear out faster, but otherwise here is nothing to worry about. Just service the transmission regularly.

I belong to a hiking and skiing club and our members are in above average shape as they get this excercise one day a week.

It’s very simple driving up the mountain puts a terrible strain on your transmission going down the mountain puts a terrible strain on your brakes
Especially on older smaller vehicles

So you may see the cars that make the same commute, how are they doing?

I think it all depends on the car and how you drive up the hill. I drive up and down the same mountain every day 6 days a week. I have now been through a few cars through the last 4 years.but I also do Grubhub so that is all a lot of miles. If you change your oil every 3 or 3500 miles and make sure your never over heating should be good. It I see some back and forth answers on this ,