Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Hubby want a new car.....HELP!

My 68 year old husband is admittedly not a great driver. He went through several years of getting nervous when driving on the highway. He challenged himself to drive the highway twice a week, by himself, about 30 minute drives. He is retired, we seldom take road trips.

He drives the highway in 3rd gear on the highway. He says he does it so he doesn’t have to brake so much???

Now he complains that when there is a short merge or on ramp the car doesn’t have enough power so he is looking into buying a car with more power?

Our car is in perfectly good condition. Is the fact that he is trying to pick up speed up rapidly in 3rd gear make it feel like he isn’t getting enough power?

Make, Model, year, engine option, transmission type of the car you have now…

In short, the answer to your question is…no.

Because 3rd gear is a lower gear, the engine is turning over faster, thus meaning that there is more power instantly available. If he was in “top gear”, and if he floored the gas, the transmission would go into 3rd gear at that point in order to accelerate.

That being said, what he is doing really makes very little sense, because the engine is consuming more gas, possibly more oil, and is wearing at a faster rate as a result of his refusal to put the car into its normal cruising gear.

And, if he is doing this in order to avoid braking, that implies that he is not allowing sufficient following distance behind other cars. When I am on the highway, I rarely have to brake, simply because I leave enough following distance so that simply backing off on the gas pedal slows me down enough if somebody in front of me is driving too slowly.

Truthfully, he sounds like somebody who–in addition to being nervous behind the wheel–also has little or no orientation to what he should be doing when he drives.

My suggestion–which he will probably reject–is that he first take driving lessons.
Yes, the same lessons that a beginner/learner takes, simply because I think that he still has a lot to learn.

Then, once he begins to drive with more confidence, and once he ceases doing nonsensical things like driving at high speed in 3rd gear (and likely tailgating other cars), it might be time to consider a new car. However, it is important that he actually learns how to drive properly before you get that new car.

I agree with driving lessons or a third party (that he respects) to ride along with him (absent wife!) and make notes and corrections on his driving and see where you go from there.
Would be helpful to know what his current car is, we might have a few posters driving the same make and model and see if anybody has any issues with the car.

Is the car an automatic or manual transmission? Make and model please! If a manual trans, my god fellow downshift to second!

Sorry to hear this. Was he a better driver when he was younger, or has he always driven in a lower gear? From what you say this has been going on for some years, so age is probably not an issue. By the time he was 68 my father’s driving skills had started to deteriorate noticeably, but most people can drive safely into their seventies, and sometimes beyond. It sounds like your husband was willing to put some effort into improving his skills, so maybe he won’t turn green at the thought of driving lessons. In large cities there are sometimes driving schools that specialize in adult drivers. They’re most common in cities with a lot of immigrants. They usually advertise that fact.

Driving in third is not doing your car any favors. If it’s an automatic it probably won’t let the engine rev to beyond the red line, but with a manual in third gear that could easily happen, and it is potentially damaging. Cars aren’t supposed to be driven with the engine revving madly like that all the time Dropping down to a lower gear is a common practice driving down hills so you don’t need to use the brakes to keep from accelerating. The engine does that instead. On a level road the car won’t be trying to run away from him like he seems to think, unless he is inadvertantly pressing on the accelerator without meaning to. Does he by any chance have poor feeling in his feet. Diabetic neuropathy is very common, but there are other problems that also cause neuropathy.

You’re right in thinking your car is powerful enough. It should be powerful enough in third, too, though normally it wouldn’t drop down that far to handle an on ramp, unless it only has a four speed transmission. Then dropping down to third for more acceleration would be quite normal. Even the slowest cars made now are quicker than many cars used to be, so you probably don’t need a new car.

This seems like the perfect application for an automatic transmission.

At 68 years old, he’s unlikely to change his driving habits. Staying in 3rd on the highway kicks the noise up a notch, and reduces the lifespan of the motor a bit (impossible to guess how much)but most modern cars won’t allow the driver to destroy them. I sometimes use 3rd on 50mph roads, especially if I’m behind someone who doesn’t maintain a constant speed, and I’ll sometimes forget to put it in D when I get to the highway. I’ll get to my destination and suddenly realize I had it in 3rd. I have 215,000 trouble free miles on my car.

Since we have no idea what kind of car you’re driving, it’s impossible to speculate whether his driving practices should be a concern, or even comment on whether he should have sufficient power to accelerate in 3rd. We could be a lot more help if we had more information.

In short, the answer to your question

I’m not so sure. This sounds like a timid driver who maybe approaches the interstate at 20mph. 3rd gear at 20mph in a low torque motor is going to make for sluggish acceleration.

I think your husband needs driving lessons far more than a different car.

He might need a through medical checkup as well, including an ophthalmological exam.
When I had my cataracts, I became very reticent driving, to the point where the only thing that kept me safe is that I only drove when necessary. At night I couldn’t see squat. I truly was not safe, especially at night.

I honestly didn’t realize how much vision I’d lost until I had my first surgery. With the cataract gone, it was like I had a 25 year old eye. After he second surgery on the other eye, I felt reborn.

At 68 years old, it may be time for a good look-see for hubby’s eyes.

In MY truck, if the gear selector is merely in 3rd ( and not in drive ) it will NOT downshift !
Ergo ; no accelerating ‘‘power’’. ( it does NOT shift 1,2,3 and stop there…it’s simply always in 3rd )
Some vehicles have it the other way but you’d need to test drive each to see if it shifts 1,2,3 or just remains in 3rd.

– IF – he’s driving in that manner, the engine will just lug along even with the pedal mashed to the floor…it will not down shift.
by the way , what IS …‘IT’ that he’s driving ?

I, too , like engine slowing instead of pedal braking …BUT…
There’s a time and a place for that.
Out on the open freeway is not the place.

I had a friend in high school that was terrified of driving. Didn’t want to get his license, didn’t want to drive, and was content to let someone else take him wherever he wanted to go. He finally did drive but I’m sure he just uses buses and trains now whenever he can. He should be in the passenger seat and let someone else drive. Either that or driving lessons but at this point he shouldn’t be on the road if he’s not any more comfortable than that.

No new car is going to correct your husband’s very bad driving habits!! Agree with others that he should take an “adult driving refresher course”. There are many offered in the larger centers.

Buying a new car would create more problems than it solves; he would have to get used to the new car while still having his bad driving habits. He would no doubt have all sorts of complaints about the new car!

I had a number of close relatives who learned to drive past middle age, were stubborn, and never learned to drive properly.

Based on what you say, it’s best to get the driving courses done first. If he improves. it might be worthwhile to consider a new car!

Your husband driving continuously in 3rd gear reminds me of a story told to me by a mechanic I worked for by mowing the grounds around his house and shop. I probably should have paid him for working there because he taught me a lot about maintaining and repairing cars. At any rate, he told me about a customer who had a 1946 Buick Roadmaster. The customer brought the car in because the clutch was almost gone. My mechanic friend replaced the clutch, which on that model Buick meant dropping the rear axle to remove the transmission because it had an enclosed driveshaft. After installing the clutch and road testing, the car seemed fine. However, three months later, the car was back and the clutch was out. My mechanic friend replaced the clutch and the customer didn’t balk about paying for the second clutch job. When the Buick was brought back again in a couple of months with the clutch out, my friend replaced the clutch and then had the customer take him for a ride. The customer was riding the clutch at the friction point where it was slipping badly. My mechanic friend told him to let the clutch all the way out. The customer replied, “This is the only way I know how to drive a car. I’ll pay the bill for new clutches”.
One of the problems with getting older is becoming set in one’s ways. I am 72 years old and I find adapting to new technology becoming more difficult. At my wife’s insistence, I bought a “smart phone” a couple of days ago. I am working at getting used to it. The learning curve seems much steeper from going to the cell phone to the smart phone than it did years ago when we went from a telephone where you turned a crank which signaled the operator and she asked for the party you wanted to reach to a dial phone.
At any rate, if I can adapt to today’s technology with my room temperature I.Q., your husband who is younger and probably more intelligent should be able to do the same.