Passing gear

My wife contends using the passing gear to pass on a two lane road or to merge into interstate traffic is harmful to the car. I can’t believe that. Any comments?

As long as you don’t over-rev the engine (which won’t happen if you have an automatic transmission), only harm is the little bit gas used and a TINY bit of extra wear.

There is no “passing gear.” When you attempt to accelerate quickly the transmission down shifts to the next lower gear to prevent “laboring” the engine. When pulling away from a stop quickly the transmission will hold out the shifts to an appropriate speed. If after cruising at a constant speed the car is accelerted the transmission must “re-calculate” what range is appropriate.

It’s far more risky to dwaddle while passing or merging into high-speed traffic…Use your “passing gear” that’s what it’s there for…

Caddyman is correct. Safety is much more important than a tiny fraction of a gallon of gas.

If your wife is one of those people who merges while going under the prevailing speed, please tell her to cut it out. She’s endangering not only herself but also those of us stuck behind her and trying to merge correctly.

Wifey is wrong, and she could wind-up dead wrong if she merges onto an expressway without accelerating hard enough for the transmission to “kick-down” to the next lowest gear.

Many cars will kick down two gears. Some even more (some have many gears and lots of power).
I agree with everything that’s been said here.

Your wife is wrong. The “passing gear” or downshifting was engineered to operate that way. Maybe she doesn’t like the sound the vehicle makes when you step on the gas. In any event…it’s there so use it.

Perhaps it would help if you explained to your wife that the purpose of the gears are to allow the engine to operate efficiently under the wide variety of loads it’s placed, and the downshifting is the transmission’s “brain” making sure it’s in the best possible gear for the job.

When passing on two lane roads, I can’t fathom why many drivers would downshift after getting over to the opposite side of the road. And they are often wasting precious time going through neutral while on the way to a lower gear. When I let people drive my car on a long trip, I often tell them to grab a lower gear before checking traffic for passing

As said above, the car is designed to do that. The only harm to the car would be due to the increased forces on the drivetrain associated with the acceleration needed to pass safely. And there’s not much you can do about that, other than to simply not pass. Except in extreme situations, there’s little damage done to the car beyond that fact that you’re driving it and putting miles on the odometer, which does cause some wear and tear.

In reading between the lines, I expect what your wife is actually saying is that you shouldn’t be in such a hurry. Then – in her way of thinking, which you have to admit has some merit – you wouldn’t have to pass other drivers, or not as frequently. Suggest to ask your wife if her concern is the car, or that you drive too fast for her sensibilities? Your safety and the passenger’s safety in other words. If the latter, maybe the solution is to slow down when she’s in the car.

George might be right. It might be the wife trying to get you to slow down.
I solved that problem. I got rid of the wife. {:smiley:

Passing on a 2 lane or merging into interstate traffic usually means nailing it to the floor or risk getting run into or over. The wife is wrong.

Next question. How well does the wife accept the advice given here if she reads it or is made aware of it…?

I’d rather slash my wrists with a rusty hacksaw blade than attempt to talk to my better half about any matter related to cars or home repairs.
She doesn’t even know how to (or even care) about checking the oil in the car and can’t tell the difference between 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 lumber but she will argue an automotive mechanical point or home repair issue with me until hxxx freezes over. Sometimes repeatedly and over months.

In times like these I curse that '54 Ford pickup my buddy had which I was in when I met her… :wink:

If she’s trying to pass in top gear riding with her must be terrifying. In any car with five or more gears (which is all) the highest gear is for cruising at highway speeds with the engine at low rpms for maximum efficiency. Engines operating at low rpms are a long way from the band where they produce maximum power and torque. That’s why the engine lugs (balks) when you try to accelerate hard in a top gear. Standard advice is to always drop down enough gears so that the engine is operating at a speed where it’s making close to maximum power. On a five speed transmission, shifting to fourth is usually adequate unless you’re also climbing. If you have seven or nine speeds you may want to routinely drop at least two gears. Your car will thank you and you’ll be a safer driver.

On two lane roads, I find not passing usually to be the best option, the time saved by passing the car in front may save mere seconds of time while passing that car opens you to risk, uses a lot of gas, and usually a few miles down the road, you just catch up with another car going just as slow with the car you passed now tailgating you a few minutes later.

Think I’m kidding about saving mere seconds? Do the math yourself. 70 mph = 51.4 seconds/mile. 65 mph = 55.4 seconds/mile. The difference is about 4 seconds/mile.
So you pass on the double yellow and accelerate up to 80 to go around a car that’s only going 55.4 seconds/mile so you can continue going 51.4 seconds/mile and your exit is only one mile ahead, you just saved 4 seconds by doing that pass. In fact, the car you passed now has to slow down for you as you brake to make that right turn.
Was that four seconds really worth crossing the double yellow and risking a reckless driving charge for?
Ok definitely not worth it for one mile, how about 10 miles? OK, now you save 40 seconds on that trip, most intersections where you hit the light red cost you more time than that.

Thanks to all. I wholeheartedly agree about the merging. It has to be done at speed to be safe.

@B.L.E. on a 200 mile trip about 13 minute, closer to a half hour if the speed differential is 10 MPH. If you value your time as being on par with minimum wage, you’re already ahead as it doesn’t take $2 worth of gas to pass someone.

Many people don’t know how their cars work and get frightened when they feel the actual power and acceleration of their vehicle. They wrongfully conclude that acceleration is dangerous and the extra noise of a freely revving engine is harmful. These people should take some real driving lessons so they do not endanger the rest of us on the road.

Automobile evolution is bringing us cars with smaller short stroke engines that have a fairly wide power band but require getting into the upper end of the band to accelerate. A driver whose first driving experiences were in automobiles with considerably more low end torque and more sound insulation might feel that the noise from revving 5,000 rpm in a late model car indicates a problem. It might take some getting used to.

FoDaddy Junior Grease Monkey


@B.L.E. on a 200 mile trip about 13 minute, closer to a half hour if the speed differential is 10 MPH. If you value your time as being on par with minimum wage, you’re already ahead as it doesn’t take $2 worth of gas to pass someone.

Speed differential by itself does not provide enough information to calculate the time differential between two cars on a trip.
For example:
There is a 10 mph speed differential between a car going zero mph and one going 10 mph. But the time differential between these two cars on a 200 mile trip would be eternity.
A car going 10 mph slower than one going 70 mph would need 28minutes and 34 seconds more time to make that 200 mile trip.
However, a car going 80mph would only make the 200 mile trip in 21 minutes and 26 seconds less time than the car going 70.