Downshifting IS bad for the car.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

My problem: To begin with, my age is 71. I've had a running friendly argument with my two sons, ages 42 and 43, and my ex-wife. I was taught, way back, that when one drives a stick shift, one should down shift to save on the brakes. All three say I'm wrong, and that down shifting is hard on the engine. Please settle the argument! Thank you.

RAY: Well, Floyd, one of the drawbacks of getting to be your age is that your memory can begin to fade. That may be why you don't remember seeing this issue addressed fifteen or sixteen times in the last six months in our column.

TOM: But that's OK. It's a frequently-asked question. And in the interest of familial harmony, we'll answer it again for you.

RAY: Downshifting IS bad for the car. It's not bad for the engine. The engine couldn't care less whether you downshift or not. But it's very bad for the clutch.

TOM: For example, every time you drop down from third gear to second, and send the RPM up to 3,500, you're probably chewing twenty five miles off the life of your clutch. And since clutches are more expensive than brakes, we don't recommend downshifting (unless, of course, you're descending a steep hill).

RAY: I hope this helps, Floyd. And feel free to write to us again if you forget what we said.

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