I accidentally switched to reverse!

I was driving home and while going down a hill I tried to switch into neutral but it slid and went into reverse. I was going about 25mph, the engine shut off, and I pulled over to the side. Initially I just felt a medium power bump from the gear switch but after I pulled over, put it in park, restarted it, it ran fine.

What problems do I to look forward to?

Why were you putting the car into neutral?
This is exactly why you DON’T change gears going down hills, or at stop lights

I am a new driver, I did it on accident. Please reply to my question lol.


Aside from the fact that putting a modern car into neutral on a downgrade DOES NOT save gas, there is also the reality that the driver has less braking ability in neutral, and may wind up putting the transmission into reverse by mistake. Can you please explain to us why you have decided to shift to neutral on downgrades?

Also, could you please share some details regarding the make, model, model year, and odometer mileage of your mystery vehicle?

Oh yes I forgot to add info, I tried to add it in tags.

1998 Toyota Camry LE
Mileage: ~150,000

This car has been through a lot, I just need it to last me 2-3 more years before I have enough for a newer used car!

Yep! This is one reason you should not switch to neutral when going down hills. The other reasons are that you don’t save any gas and you increase drivetrain wear.

koreoAK, what is the year, make, and model of the car? Is it AWD?

It is unlikely you did any real damage. Just don’t do it again.

1998 Toyota Camry LE
Mileage: ~150,000

I don’t think it is AWD!

Definately not good on your one way clutches or your drive axles, final drive assy. Sounds like you got lucky though.


Having lived in San Francisco for a while, I downshifted whenever I go downhill. I’ve moved that shifter back and forth on the fly. Not once did I come close to R.

If you spent an hour or so reading the owner’s manual, you would learn that you don’t need to push that button on the left of the shifter to go from D to N, amongst other things. That button is design to lockout R so you can’t shift to it unless you are sure you want to.

A one time deal you should be ok. As long as it’s not a habit!

For what it’s worth many decades ago I was with a friend of mine and he was driving his girlfriend’s car; a '67 Camaro RS with a 327 engine.
For hoots he ran it up to about 40 MPH and shifted it into PARK. (on purpose)
The rear wheels locked and smoke rolled. He did this twice. (against my recommendation)

No harm done (apparently) but I’m surprised the transmission case did not crack due to the parking pawl being abused like this. I was even guilty of hammering a car a bit way back then but would never consider pulling this stunt.

my apologies. I figured this was going to be another one of those other kinds of posts.
it’s a 98 so it should have a built in safety switch or something similar to prevent damage to the transmission. I’m sure the engine shutting off was the car’s response to that kicking in.