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Transmission Habit

I just bought a Stratus 2006 (72,000 miles) and want to ask you a question about a driving habit I have that might have wrecked the transmission on the car I had before I bought the Stratus, which was a Pontiac Trans AM 2002.

OK, so when I’m driving and I’m increasing the speed in my car I can sense when the transmission is going to shift to a higher gear and I let go of the gas just before it happens.

So I was wondering if by letting go of the gas pedal before the gear shift makes the transmission work harder?

Am I saving gas by doing so? Am I helping the transmission to work less harder and, in fact, be doing a good thing instead?

You should be driving a Chrysler product from the late 1940’s through the early 1950’s. These cars had a semi-automatic transmission where you needed to let up on the accelerator before it would shift. We called those transmissions the “lift and clunk” transmissions. You would acclerate up to 20 miles per hour, release the accelerator and wait for the clunk and then you would be in high gear and you would then resume pressure on the accelerator pedal.
I don’t think you are harming the transmission of a modern car by letting up on the accelerator just before it shifts, but you aren’t gaining anything either. Just let the automatic transmission do its job.

You are doing no harm to the transmission but I would not “anticipate” the shift change. The only thing you are doing is increasing the time it takes to get up to highway speed and you are probably wasting more gas than you save. I see no benefit at all by increasing acceleration time. The transmission was designed to shift when the accelerator is pressed down.

I had a late 40’s Chrysler many years ago that had this type of transmission. It was an automatic but it also had a clutch. The clutch got you going in first gear then it changed gears on it’s own after that. I bought it very cheap because no one could get the engine running. It turned out to be a $5 ballast resistor. Memories…memories.

My Dad bought a 1947 DeSoto coupe in 1954 with the “lift and clunk” transmission. I was in 8th grade at the time and made some rather uncomplimentary remarks about the car. I was put to work with rubbing compound, polish and wax for my nasty remarks about the car. When I was in high school and obtained a driver’s license, my parents had the DeSoto and a 1954 Buick. The Buick had a V-8 and a manual transmission, but most of the time I had to drive the DeSoto. I actually preferred driving the DeSoto on a date. This was before the days of bucket seats and I found not having to shift gears to be a real advantage. I also remember that the radio in the DeSoto had a big 8" speaker had had good sound for the time.

I agree with Missileman. No need to anticipate the gear change. Automatic transmissions have an adjustment for how quickly (solidly) they release one gear before grabing on to the next. Actually all the gears are turning all the time and the shift just releases one friction band and snuggs up the next one. The length of time this takes is affected by how hard you are pressing on the throttle. A light throttle press (or letting up just before the shift) makes this shift take longer and be “smoother”. A hard throtle press actually makes the shift happen faster, cause you don’t want a slow shift if you are accelerating on the on ramp. Bottom Line, You don’t have to do this. You are just playing. Kind of fun, isn’t it

I don’t see how it could possibly harm your transmission, in fact, an unloaded shift has got to be easier on the clutches inside the transmission than a loaded shift would be.

I often lift my foot just so the transmission won’t downshift when I’m going up a short hill. Why overrule the transmission’s shift logic? Because no matter how “smart” they make automatic transmissions, only the driver knows that the hill is short and the car can make it with its momentum.

I always cringe when my friends put their car in drive while it is still rolling backwards at 5 mph. That, and not maintaining the transmission can be harmful. Your driving style however is no big deal.

Do your transmissions a favor. Use it as it was designed, don’t try and help it, and change the fluid (not flush) drop the pan and clean the filter) do this maintenance BEFORE you have any problems and it may save you from having them.

Years ago, in my automatic transmissions class, I remember the instructor telling us if you were pulling a heavy load (like a trailer up a hill), that it was easier on the clutches if you “backed off the throttle slightly” just before each shift point. He wasn’t telling us that we needed to do that, he was telling us to help us understand the load a clutch was under as it engaged. [He said he did it occasionally when he pulled his trailer.]

There is no need for you to do this. You will see no difference in transmission life whether you do it or not.

Wow, guys! Thank you so much for your replies. This is the first time I’ve posted a question on this website and it turned out to be very educational.
I now have a better sense of how an automatic transmission works and how to take better care of it.
Thanks a whole bunch!