Second Gear

I am sure this question has been asked a thousand times, but a quick search didn’t return anything. I live in Northeast Ohio, so I frequently deal with slippery road conditions during the winter. I have a 2008 Ford Focus that is a manual transmission. When the roads are snowy or icy, I have to start moving using second gear. First gear just causes my tires to spin. Well, now that our roads are clear, I have found that starting in second gear is much easier than first. I can accelerate faster (first gear barely allows me to move before I have to shift anyway), and it actually makes the ride smoother.

My question is, am I doing any real damage by starting in 2nd? I’m sure it wears the clutch down a little bit more than 1st, but is it really that much? I had tried this with a truck I used to own and it would shutter real bad when I started in 2nd, but with the Focus the gear ratios seem to be close enough where under-revving the engine isn’t a problem. I just want to make sure that frequently doing this isn’t going to screw things up.

If this doesn’t result in any kind of feathering of the clutch, shudder, or lugging of the engine then I’d say there is no problem doing this.

I’m with cigroller on this one. Some cars when on level ground can be started rolling in second gear without causing undue wear. Some cannot. It sounds like yours can.

“on level ground”

Actually now that you mention it, best to qualify my general statement - there are conditions under which you’d rather be in first - like starting out on an uphill or even if the car is loaded down with extra weight.

A quick look at gear ratios (varies a bit based on model but they’re similar) shows a fairly wide gap between 1st and 2nd gear ratios. (roughly 3.5 in 1st, 2.4 in 2nd)
This would bug me a bit because they’re not that close.
A sometimes thing shouldn’t be a problem but it sounds like this is chronic so I would say that the clutch will have a shorter life. How much shorter is debateable.

My suggestion would be to learn to ease off from a stop in 1st and quickly shift into second or consider another set of winter tires that have some bite to them.

The only thing at risk is the clutch…Over time, this extra slippage to get into motion will take it’s toll…

The secret to moving in first gear is to avoid a heavy pedal. When you begin to move just shift to second. I have never had a problem in first gear in any vehicle I have ever owned and I have owned mostly high performance vehicles like Trans Ams, Corvettes and the like. Do you have problems in an automatic vehicle? You have to start in low gear because the tranny won’t let you leave in any other gear.

For most driving I just use 1st gear on my '03 Civic (manual trans) to get the car rolling then shift to 2nd. Sometimes I do the rolling stop at an intersection and just go down to 2nd gear and start back up.

You need 1st gear for any kind of start on a hill, when the car is fully loaded, or if you are driving in “performance” mode.

Routinely starting in 2nd gear might not do any damage. If it does it would be more wear on the clutch. You may want to price out a new clutch and see if that impacts your decision to start in 1st or 2nd gear.

I figure 1st is there for a reason, so I opt to start in 1st. I don’t mind a bit of wheel spin so I start in 1st even in snowy roads.