Driving my car too hard?

I have a new 2009 Acura TSX, 6 speed manual transmission. It is a 201 hp inline 4 cylinder. I absolutely LOVE driving it and missed driving a manual. This is my first “nice”/“sporty” car. My problem is that I feel like I have to drive the car too hard (i.e. 3,000 to 4,000 rpm range) in order to get the speed. The engine feels like its working too hard. Is this normal or am I expecting too much from the car? Also cruising on the highway between Houston and San Antonio the TSX is at 3,500 rpm at 70 to 75mph. Is that normal or should I drive below 3,000 rpm for cruising speeds? Thanks!! I’m not a car buff so I don’t know and I don’t want to screw up my car.

Your Acura can handle 6000 rpm with no problems, so don’t worry about 3000-4000. Are you worried that cruising in 6th gear on the freeway requires more rpms than you’re used to? It’s part of having a performance-oriented 4 cylinder.

Many sporty cars are designed to operate at higher RPM ranges. Last December I bought a four cylinder motorcycle that red-lines at 8,500 RPMs. I haven’t had it past 6,000 RPMs yet since I usually ride a V-twin and I am not not yet used to taking the RPMs that high. Something tells me both you and I will get used to it, and have a lot of fun when we do.

Does this car have a tachometer? If so, at what RPM range does the needle touch the red part? As long as you don’t red-line it, and have the maintenance performed on schedule, it will be fine.

Drive it. Enjoy it. Don’t worry about it.


At 3,000 to 4,000 rpm the motor isn’t working too hard, it is just getting into it’s “sweet spot”. Driving at the redline on the tach (what is it 7,000 rpm on your car?) now that would be running it too hard.

Lugging a 4 cylinder motor is worse than reving it. Lugging is putting a load on the motor at too low an rpm, say below 2,000.

With a high reving, high performance motor in TX heat with the AC on most of the time I’d advise checking your oil level frequently. The conditions are harder on the oil than on your motor, so keeping the oil changed and near the full mark will preserve your nice running motor.

The 4 banger in the TSX (like most Hondas) doesn’t have much low end torque, so to keep it feeling responsive to the driver, the gearing is quite short. The car was designed like that on purpose. You’re not stressing the engine in the least.

Yeah, I have a vehicle that only turns 1750 at 65 MPH in overdrive so I keep it in 3rd so I can keep the RPMs up to around 3000. Speed never hurts anything!!! I was thinking of putting smaller wheels on it so they could turn faster too!!

You left out a lot of information. Opinions could change if you have 200 miles on the car or 5,000 miles. If the break-in period is over and you didn’t drive any faster than that during break-in, the car should be OK. I imagine that you are in sixth gear while cruising at 75 MPH. If so; the car was definitely built to do that even during break-in. Your owner’s manual should say something about how to drive it. If not, then Acura agrees with how you drove.

Acuras are made by Honda, and Honda/Acura engines love to rev.

It’s the nature of the beast. Why are you asking this question?

There is a red line on the tachometer. As long as you don’t exceed the red line you are are not driving your car too hard (unless it’s within the break-in period).

Most of us Acura owners do not drive our cars too hard (at least not very often), or up to their potential (rarely).

3,000 - 4,000 rpm? Ha, ha. The engine is laughing, and waiting for you to show it more like 6,000, or maybe even 7,000. I don’t know. Where’s the red line?

Assuming the break-in period is over, you should have no fear of revving the engine past 4,000 rpm.

If engine speeds beyond 4,000 scare you, perhaps you should trade your new TSX for an automatic-transmission-equipped Toyota Camry.

Is your car also a 2009 Acura TSX with a 6 speed manual transmission? If so, that would be one heck of a coincidence!!!

Now I know that lugging an engine is not good, BUT I’d bet more engines have disintegrated (blew up) running 5,6, or 7K than have at 3,000 or less. Engines were not designed to run high rpm, they just have to to get enough power. An engine might be capable of producing 200 HP but you don’t need to drive it wide open all the time.

Motors in this day and age are opting for HP generated from higher rpms instead of higher cubic inch lower gas mileage days of old. A generalization, but Honda motors in particular are made more on these lines and their reliability is top rate.
Our 4 stroke outboards, different breed to be sure, run continuously within 500 rpm of their redline just to justify their HP rating w/o added weight. Same holds true for the modern auto.

Engines were not designed to run high rpm…

That is an antiquated notion. Maybe yours wasn’t, but the one we are discussing was designed to run at high RPMs. Engines with variable timing adjust the timing of the valves to run better at high RPMs.

You are right that SOME engines were not designed to run at high RPMs, but the idea that none were shows you do not understand modern developments in engine design.

Modern engines as compared to engines of old have much lighter reciprocating masses, much more consistancy in parts (meaning much more balanced operation), and overhead cams instead of pushrods. And, four-bangers like yours have half the reciprocating parts than did our old V8s. And use shorter strokes. Engines today are very, very comfortable at 3,000 and 3,500 rpm.

You can thank W. Edward Deming (statistcal process control guru) as well as countless others that have developed new alloys, new casting technologies, new manufacturing technologies, robots, and even new oil formulations.

How high is high?
Check out the Honda S600. It’s happy at 5000RPM all day long.
There’s a 1.5 million HP diesel that’s happiest at 150RPM.

I just checked, your red line is 7000 rpm, so you’ve got LOTS of room to play. Seriously, there is absolutely no harm in using a fair amount of the tach as you accelerate, as long as you don’t mistreat the clutch, and don’t drive around at 6500 rpm in 2nd gear for 20 minutes, stuff like that.

Could we please stop calling 4 cylinder engines “4 bangers”? The term properly refers to 4 stroke engines.

“The term properly refers to 4 stroke engines.”

New one on me…

From the ‘Urban Dictionary’: “A ride with a four cylinder engine, with little or no real power. Typically used as an insult.”

No mention of ‘4 stroke’. I’ve never heard a 2 stroke engine called a ‘2 banger’…

I’m sorry my friend Caller X, but you’ll have to learn to live with it. It’s been a common reference to four cylinder engines for as far back as my fading memory can remember. This old dog plans to keep using it.

An insult? Really? I never knew. It’s a good thing I never knew or I might have been insulted…in my younger days.