Driving in Second Gear at speeds less than 25 mph


#1

Is it harmful to a car engine or transmission to stay in 2nd gear while driving on ice/snow at low speeds? If it is a matter of distance, how far is it engine/tranny safe to drive in 2nd gear - what is the appropriate speed range of second gear?


#2

It won’t hurt the transmission; as long as the engine runs smooth it won’t hurt the ?ngine either. It will use a lot more gas, though!


#3

As long as you are not reving to engine to the redline(about 5-6000rpm), this should not hurt the engine or tranny in any way. The lower gear settings are there for your safety in these conditions. Is this an automatic or manual tranny? That can determine the top speed for 2nd gear.


#4

Automatic - Corolla


#5

Why do you want to drive in second gear? Is it an automatic or manual transmission? What is the RPM at the speeds you are driving? What are the speeds you are driving?

Frankly I suspect that you may be doing something that could increase your chances of sliding on the ice.


#6

Once again, I agree with Mr. Meehan. While keeping your transmission in 2nd gear will help to keep your speed down, it also increases the amount of torque that is being delivered to the drive wheels. Thus, when you apply the gas (as you must do periodically, even when driving slowly on ice or snow), you are much more likely to reduce the traction of those drive wheels, as compared to if you just left your gear selector in the “D” position.

Years ago, I worked with a woman who insisted on driving this way on slippery surfaces, and nothing that I could do ever convinced her that she was actually increasing her odds of losing traction. Even after she had a few very close calls, she continued to drive this way. Luckily for everyone else on the road, she usually didn’t drive at all when the roads were really slippery.


#7

The best way to keep the speed down is by not stepping on the accelerator. The incresed engine braking when the transmission is forced to stay in second can cause a skid when you lift your foot off of the accelerator. If overusing the brakes causes a skid, taking your foot off of the brake is pretty intuitive for a lot of people who have ice driving experience. It is not intuitive to give the car gas to end the skid caused by too much engine braking.

When driving a manual, if lifting your foot off of the accelerator even slightly results in engine braking, you are using a gear that’s too low.


#8

Actually, I first came to the technique to avoid skidding. Long, long ago, driving in WNY in a rear wheel drive auto, I found that downshifting to slow down resulted in far less skidding to drop from cruising speed than braking did. I suspect that it was due to the drag in the rear while the weight and the unpowered front wheels tried to speed on that kept the front straight. That was decades ago. With front wheel drive, I expected skidding would be a problem downshifting on ice. What I’m interested in now is driving a Carolla automatic tranny over ice and hardpack on an Interstate over the Blue Mts in Oregon where motorist with chains and an interest in getting to their destination are driving at or below 25 mph. Slow and steady and, in white outs, able to decellerate without braking when the car ahead vanishes in the blowing snow.


#9

When driving a manual, if lifting your foot off of the accelerator even slightly results in engine braking, you are using a gear that’s too low.

???


#10

Back in the day automatic transmissions if put in second would stay in second even at a stop, and would start in second from a stop. This technique was used to limit the torque to the drive wheels from a stop, making it easer to control wheel spin.

I think that is no longer the case, and is probably best to just leave it in drive.


#11

While I do believe that it is best to leave the car in Drive, there are several makes that still have the feature that you mention (starting out in 2nd gear), namely Subaru and Honda. Well, at least I know that Honda had this feature on my '92 Accord. My '86 Taurus also had this feature.

Even though I have AWD and traction control and I use winter tires, if I am on a really slick bit of ice, I will start out in 2nd gear, and then I will shift to “D” as soon as I can. This gives you the best of both worlds–reduced wheel-spin when starting up from a dead stop and the advantage of being in a higher gear once moving in order to increase traction at higher speeds.


#12

Since it’s on ice/snow, it shouldn’t hurt the engine mounts, but if you don’t slow down before turning, you could have control problems if you let off the gas while turning. I have never felt the need to use only second gear on ice or snow.


#13
I remember the old "S" setting on an automatic, and I agree about that, but B.L.E. specified a manual transmission and refered to engine braking.  That could cause you to loose control.

#14

With an automatic this should not be a problem. You can drive your car forever at 25MPH in second gear. I won’t hurt the car or transmission. I assume you understand the situation in regard to control and skidding. I think you will be fine. Practice in an empty parking lot to make sure you know what the car will do.


#15

“Back in the day automatic transmissions if put in second would stay in second even at a stop, and would start in second from a stop. This technique was used to limit the torque to the drive wheels from a stop, making it easer to control wheel spin.”

I learned to drive on a 1960 Corvair with auto. As I recall it had all of two speeds and you sure did not need to worry about wheel spin. I doubt if you could do it on ice. All my cars have had manuals.


#16

Fords will start in 2 if the selector is at 2.