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Is it normal for a car to drive like this?

I recently took my little honda civic with a 1.8l v-tec a/t on a family trip loaded with 4 passengers… And on the trip were some pretty steep mountains. Don’t know the upgrade % I’m gonna go ahead and guess 6-15% but my car was screaming up those mountains. Going about 70-75 my RPM’S were well up to 5k. Is it safe to work my car that hard? When it shifted, it first went to about 3800-4k but not enough power was going and it jumped to 5-5200k. After it jumped to 5k it built speed rather quickly but should I have to do that? Does that sound normal?

Going 75 mph up a steep mountain with 4 passengers in a Civic…yeah it’s going to kick down into 4th gear or even 3rd and rev high. You could try going a little slower in the steeps, say, 65 mph, and the engine won’t have to work so hard.

But 5000 rpm or so for brief bursts won’t hurt it.

What year is the car? 5k rpm sounds high, but a 1.8 does not have that much in reserve, ie the squirrls in the cage were running as fast as they could to provide power. I had an old friend that said it does not hurt a good engine to go fast, he was an original member of the flying tigers, and flew me and his son down to Indy once, but then again he did have to have his engine rebuilt. I do not think there is a solid answer except you have found the performance limit of your car, and maybe you could do it forever but I feel what you feel, this was a tad too much for that little motor.

Compact cars get good mileage for a reason. They have tiny motors with limited capabilities. I agree with @Barkeydog. You have just about found the limits of your car. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Imo, it’s like towing too much weight. You can get away with it now and then but it does shorten the life on your motor and transmission…like everything does to varying degree. Slow down to say, 55 mph and you eliminate the excessively high RPMs and perhaps make your car last a little longer. If you do this regularly, I would get a bigger car with a bigger motor, like a Lexus LS 460 sedan. With one of these, you will probably be asking yourself, " what hills ?"

“…perhaps make your car last a little longer.”

Or a lot longer. I sold a 1998 Civic (110k miles) I had driven “appropriately” since new to a friend’s daughter. Within 2 years she put a rod through the crankcase “passing a semi on the Interstate.”

I would agree with the others. My only question would be whether it was running at a high RPM because it was in a lower gear or because the clutch/transmission was slipping. If it was just in a lower gear and screaming up the hills, yeah you were beyond the performance capabilities of the car.

All the seats full and luggage to boot? It’s normal. And doing so occasionally won’t harm the engine. Just be sure you keep it properly maintained, monitor the fluids regularly, and you can sleep soundly. Remember too that in the mountains there’s less oxygen in each cubic foot of air, so your system cannot add as much gas (read: power) as it would at sea level, and the engine has to work harder. It compensates by using a lower gear.

If you did it regularly I’d suggest you look into a car with a bit more surplus power. But occasionally pushing the envelope on a properly operating well maintained Civic is harmless.

I could see the RPMs going that high with a heavy load and steep grades. Not meaning to veer into preaching here but a heavily loaded Civic taking 6 to 15% grades at 75 MPH makes me wonder what the RPMs and speed was going down the other side…

My thoughts would turn to the brakes going down the other side… {:stuck_out_tongue:

Even if the engine has the power to climb in the lower gear, it needs to rev high to keep itself cool. It needs to get rid of the combusted hot gas as soon as possible and have the coolant circulating through the radiator. Both of those require a high speed engine. What enables the live at high speed is quality oil. So long as you keep up with the oil changes, the engine should be fine

I once had a 1970 Cadillac with a 472 cubic inch (7.7 liter) engine. With 4 people and the trunk packed full it would keep 80mph up the steepest grades without making more than a pleasant drone. At best that car got 13 mpg on premium gas. Your Honda is economical for a reason. It doesn’t have nearly the power or torque. And as such it needs to work at a higher rpm range to keep up 75mph up a grade.

Having said that, you drive a compact economy car, not a touring sedan. If it feels like you are pushing the limits of the car you probably are. Personally, I would keep the speed down a little bit on the inclines and not push it quite so hard.

Going up the steep hills may be easier if you downshift and keep the speed down. Downshifting will keep the transmission from hunting and it may extend its life.

Do you know the redline on your car? I’ll assume you were at least 1000 RPM away from that.

A properly maintained engine should be fine running at higher RPMs, although it will wear a bit faster, of course. Keep in mind that cars on the Autobahn often run at high RPMs for hours on end without blowing up.

Just make sure to check your oil more frequently.

@lion9car‌ it’s a 2011 with 46k miles. My redline is 6800. What do you mean a car with autobahn? What is that? What does it mean?

The autobahn is a German highway with sections that have no speed limits.

I agree that if you plan on doing this frequently, you might look into getting a bigger car with a more powerful engine in it. Barring that, get a turbo charged engine for better performance in the mountains

Our V8 Olds has the autobahn option which means the computer won’t restrict the speed to 114 or something like that. I have no idea how fast it would actually go but I suspect a lot faster than I would want to go.

Redline on my 2002 Sienna is 6300. I hit 5500 twice today, once passing on a short passing zone and once entering the high speed highway, and this was not that unusual.It has 205,000 on it and runs well. I am on the side that says if you only do this rarely, while on vacation don’t worry about it. redline is redline.

I do agree with those who urge you to keep it well maintained.

Now that I think about it, it’s a little sad that a civic needed to drop two gears. My 2004 xB, with its brick shape aerodynamics and a 1.5l engine, could do that with only one gear drop to 4th. The only time it felt underpower was climbing to 10k feet from 8k. I had the choice of redlining in second or full throttle in third.

Not really. I can tell you from experience that Civics are geared toward high cruising mileage and not zip. I’ve driven an xB too, and they’re geared a lot more toward pep. We don’t know the year of this Civic, but if it’s early to mid 2000s, having to downshift two gears would not surprise me at all. My daughter had a couple of those, both of which I drove, and they really need their gears. I think the torque curve must be the shape of a spur gear tooth.

In 2005 when I was in the market, I test drove both the Camry and my ultimate choice, the tC. They had exactly the same engine, but were geared differently. The tC had a very clear advantage on pep, all because of the gearing. The Camry was geared for the family man, the tC was geared for the kids.