Idling at stop sign


I have a friend who insists on changing from “Drive” to “Neutral” every time she stops at a red light. Her car is a 2004 Honda CRV. (She’s 86 and extremely stubborn). She says her daddy told her to do this and insists that it would hurt the car if she left it in gear while waiting for the light to change. I say she’s wrong. Who’s right?


It will not hurt the car to leave it in drive at stop lights. Millions of people do it will no ill effect.


Her daddy’s advice was given for cars with manual transmissions, and it was quite sound. But it was never intended to apply to a car with automatic transmission. Your friend may not be wrong, but her method is entirely unnecessary. Either method (shifting or leaving the transmission alone) is quite acceptable.


She’s 86 and aparantly thinks highly of her father - Don’t take that away from her - know you’re right and just smile and agree with her.


Proof that family will tell you anything. The worst way to learn to drive is through a family member.


my dad told me he could make smoke come out of his eyes. …one cigarette burn later, I learned to question everything family tells me. That philosophy has served me well.


Are you talking about idling at a stop sign or a redlight? If she puts it into neutral at the light so she can take her foot off the brake thats fine, but if she leaves it in drive it won’t hurt anything. If she puts it into neutral upon coasting to a stop sign, then why bother? Just depends but either way no harm will be done.


I don’t …after 50 years with a manual my tendency would be to apply gas then shift…if one were to do that in an automatic N to D with an accelerating motor it would damage the transmission…


In the early days of automatic transmissions, there was a tendency for the transmissions to heat up during prolonged idling while in Drive gear, thus the recommendation from many mechanics back in the early to mid-'50s that it was a good idea to shift to neutral while at a traffic light.

However, those days are long gone and Daddy is giving information that is very outmoded. Is Daddy also suggesting that daughther should lubricate the chassis every 3,000 miles? That would be as relevant as his suggestion to shift to neutral at traffic lights.

So, I would suggest that your friend politely ignore her father’s outmoded advice and just leave the transmission in Drive while at a traffic light. Of course, if she is stopped at a railroad crossing or some other situation where the car will just sit for an extended period of time, she should shift to neutral (or Park) and shut off the engine. I can’t believe how many people I see sitting at railroad crossings for long periods of time with the car idling.


If she is 86 - I doubt daddy is giving her much advice today. All these posts are technically correct - but what is gained by spending all this effort to change the behavour of an 86 year old woman? I fear to say it’s only selfish ego. What she is doing hurts nothing so leave it alone and find something more important to spend your energy on.