Driving a manual

I recently purchased a vw jetta sport wagon 6 speed manual. I live with my boyfriend who also drives my car. He likes to drive the car in the highest gear possible at around 1100rpms while not stalling. He thinks it saves on gas and I don’t think he enjoys driving manual so if he gets to a high gear, he doesn’t have to shift as often.

It drives me a little crazy. Is this harmful for my car? He said he would change his driving style if I found out it was harmful to the car.



While it is better for the engine to not “lug” it at low rpms, and I would never advocate doing so, I doubt you will ever see a premature end-of-life due to it. Others will have a different opinion.

Does the car run smoothly when driven that way? If it jerks, then the rpms are too low, and he’s probably wasting gas.

At light throttle application, no harm will be done. If heavy throttle is needed for accelerating, then he should downshift. The car will tell you if it needs downshifting with vibration and sound.

We have a 5 speed manual with an instant gas mileage readout. At lower speeds the mileage is very similar in 4th or 5th gear.

"The car will tell you if it needs downshifting with vibration and sound. "

I’m adding that I really agree with everyone and “Who What” comments especially, on this one.
You can’t generalize about what rpm a motor is most efficient. It depends upon the need, If you need to accelerate, higher rpms are more efficient. Generally, if a car cannot accelerate in the gear it’s in or maintain speed on a hill, it is not operating a peak efficiency for that use. It’s more of a feeling and always using 1100 rpm or any one is incorrect. Otherwise, don’t let him drive the car if you don’t like the way he drives it…it’s your car ! You shouldn’t be going crazy…he should be walking !

Habitually running an engine under load at 1100 rpm can be really hard on the piston rings and bearings, as well as the tranny. It is ok to coast at low rpm, but if you need any power at all you should run it above 1500 rpm. If you need a lot of power it is better to run it at 2000+rpm. Most small car engines are not designed to pull hard at 1100. Diesels are usually made to deal with lower rpms.

I think 1100 RPM is too low for a small 4 cylinder engine to be “happy”. And, it won’t save much in gas doing that anyway. And, it’ll accelerate poorly from that low RPM. You probably want to cruise at 2000 to 2500 RPM.