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Question on manual car technique in neutral

Question on manual car tactic regarding neutral

hi, looking for opinions on a manual car driving tactic. i am learning to drive a manual car and want to know if this tactic is good or dumb.

so my uncle said that before taking an exit he will speed up a bit to give the car some
power, and then put the car into neutral so he can coast through the exit. he does this to save gas mostly he says, and apparently he enjoys coasting. then he will shift back into gear at the end of the exit when he needs to rejoin traffic. he’s about sixty and has been doing this for years, and i have driven with him when he has used this tactic and it seems to work well for him. never had an obvious problem rejoining traffic smoothly and i have driven with him at all hours, rush hours and quiet hours.

now the guy who was teaching me to drive manual says this is a dumb tactic. he says it prevents you from being in total control of the car, which is especially dumb when taking an exit that has a curve, because you want to have the power of the car in gear behind you turn in order to remain in total control.

so who is right? or are they both right and each has its pros and cons? thanks!

There is your correct answer and your uncle may have saved a gallon of fuel in the last 20 years.


I am not an instructor, I can see it either way. Many times with a manual will shift into neutral, coast, and use the brakes rather than worrying about downshifting, as one rarely needs to speed up while exiting. I did not worry about gas mileage but would rather brake than downshift. Never been in the situation I had to accelerate on an exit, and if I do it is no big deal to pop it in the proper gear. I seriously doubt you will need to accelerate in a turn unless you are racing, unless going uphill.

hah, so it is not safe to do it this way? he’s never had an accident so it seems to be working for him, but he’s the only one i know who does this. he gives it a bit of gas to give the car some power before shifting into neutral. he loves driving, also drives motorcycles, so maybe he does it make driving more of a challenge? i could ask him but he is set in his ways so i am looking for other perspectives.

Leave it in gear at all time’s to be in complete control that way if you see some one coming up behind you and know they can not stop before they hit you you can let of the brake and already be in gear to try to get out of the way also it is again the law to coast.


Never knew that, it is against the law to go 5 over the limit, I am an unticketed lawbreaker!

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pretty sure that is the part of the reason he enjoys it haha.

Years ago coasting down a long grade with a truck in neutral was called “Georgia Overdrive” and it was illegal in some states.


I have never heard of any one getting a ticket in a car doing it but got one and know of other’s getting ticket’s driving truck’s.

Does that mean it is illegal to coast up to a red light using only brakes? What about those no engine braking allowed signs?

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Georgia overdrive is defiently illegal in the mountain state’s don’t know about the rest of the state’s.

Not illegal that I know of engine braking in 18 wheeler’s in town’s is definely illegal in town’s you have probaly heard them and can understand why.

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Also engine braking in town carries a hefty fne.**

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Readers’ Digest published a story (fictional) about a rookie driver who was supposed to stop at the top of the Sierras (US 50? It was before Interstates) to let the senior driver take it down the hill. He didn’t, and burnt out the brakes on the way down, because he didn’t let the engine brake. (They call it ‘Jake braking’ some places.) The senior driver took over somehow, and because it was too fast to drive into the sand-filled barrel pull-outs for run-away vehicles, called the Highway Patrol, got an escort. I read it when I was a kid, still remember it. I know it was some true, if over-dramatized. I always use the engine to brake on steep hills in my compact pickup, thinking of that story.

I coast to stops on straight road, but it’s one more thing to worry about when exiting a freeway, which can have multiple challenges, so I don’t do it then.

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I nearly always shift a manual trans to neutral when approaching a stop or significant slowdown because I find it ridiculous to bother with any series of downshifts.

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I guess I would listen to the guy teaching you and just humor your uncle. When I drove a manual I didn’t do any of this. I didn’t normally downshift or put it in neutral. I’d either coast in gear or put the clutch in and brake as needed. Seems stupid to down shift or coast in neutral besides being aggravating to those around you. When exiting the freeway I neither speed up or slow down until I’m on the deceleration ramp. People behind you appreciate a constant speed.

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The two stroke Saab automobiles of the late 1950s and early 1960s were freewheeling unless one pulled out a control under the dashboard. One had to pull out the control for engine braking.
The reason for not using engine braking except on the real need for descending a steep grade was that the engine was lubricated by the oil mixed with the gasoline. Descending a steep grade with one’s foot off the accelerator would prevent the engine bearings from being lubricated.

A lot of misconceptions here. A Jake Brake (Jacobs Btake actually) is not normal engine braking with a truck. It is a device that can be turned off and on that closes the valves to increase engine braking and it is noisy. That is what a lot of towns prohibit.

Not all trucks have them In 40 years of mostly union trucking companies, none of the unionized class1 carriers used them , the car hauler I drove did not have one, and the one nonunion company I drove for did not have one. I drove one Mack that had had one but the company disconnected it when they bought the truck. Almost all of my driving was East of the Mississippi except for excursions into Iowa. Most owner operators Have larger, shinier, more powerful trucks than the freight haulers did. We also did not have sleeper cabs either except for two man operations which I was never forced into, I would have quit first. We did not have sleepers because they had to put us up in hotels. The reason I never drove out west was our union contract in Buffalo NY said they could not keep us out past 3 beds or we would get mileage and one half plus time and a half for the whole trip until we got home. That did not include time in the hotel for rest except when they held us more than 14 hours. The engine brake in a Mack was their own design but worked the same.


Actually, it opens the exhaust valve on the compression stroke so the engine doesn’t build enough compression to ignite the diesel.

Back to the original question-your Uncle is wrong, but humor him.

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