correct way to drive the car: Gears + Clutch

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Elijah Bailey, May 7, 2004.

  1. My friend recently flunked the driving test in ny,
    Reason given was Poor Use of Manual Gears.

    He has the habit of pulling the car in neutral 20 meters before
    the stop sign. When he knows he has to stop, he turns the vehicle
    into neutral while slowing down using brakes. Sometimes he does
    that even on the highway, when he does not need to accelerate,
    or wants to slow down...

    I've read it in the manual that the vehicle should always be in
    gear while driving. Why is this so? Is it wrong to go into neutral
    20 meters before the stop sign? If yes, why?

    Why is being in neutral dangerous?

    Thanks in advance for ur comments?
    Elijah Bailey, May 7, 2004
  2. Elijah Bailey

    Gnekker Guest

    I've read it in the manual that the vehicle should always be in
    You have better control when in gear, small speed corrections are done using
    gas pedal with no danger of wheel locking/sliding. On long downslopes there
    is also danger of brake overheating. Beside that, when in neutral there is
    always possibility of engine stalling, with loss of steering and braking
    assistance, which can be very dangerous.
    Gnekker, May 7, 2004
  3. Elijah Bailey

    S25 Guest

    Your 'friend' should ask the examiner, eh?

    S25, May 7, 2004
  4. Elijah Bailey

    Speedy Jim Guest


    There has been a very specific reference in the NY state MV laws
    prohibiting "coasting" (in neutral) since at least the 1930's.
    (Probably other states as well.)

    It was known back then that a car "coasting" was not under good
    control (lack of engine braking downhill, plus lack of ready
    acceleration) and that is the basis for the examiner's comments.

    Speedy Jim (who is not always in compliance!)
    Speedy Jim, May 7, 2004
  5. Elijah Bailey

    Steve W. Guest

    Your friend has a VERY bad and illegal (in most states) habit. Coasting
    is not legal in any state and means you have much less control of the
    vehicle. For instance your friend is coasting to a stop, from behind him
    a car doesn't notice the stop sign/light. Your friend looks in the
    mirror and sees this, what can he do? With the car in gear he could give
    it a little gas and then stop at the sign, or move to the side and get
    out of the way. With the car in neutral he loses that option because
    there is no way to accelerate. Now take another example. Your pal is
    cruising down the highway and decides to put it in neutral since
    everything is cool. A vehicle decides he is going a little slow and
    starts to pass him. When the vehicle is right next to your pals rear
    tire a car coming the other way doesn't notice this and decides to pass.
    What can your friend do. 1 step on the brake and pray that the car next
    to him gets by and clears him. 2. step on the gas and move ahead of the
    passing car allowing it to drop behind him and avoid the accident, OOPS
    can't do that because his car is in neutral. Oh and if your friend ever
    has a blow out or a parts failure when he is coasting in neutral, good
    luck, without the engine providing power the loss of control will be fun
    to watch.

    I for one hope he learns his way out of this habit BEFORE you have to
    visit the morgue to ID the body.
    Steve W., May 7, 2004
  6. Those laws were written back when all cars had drum brakes, which were
    notoriously unreliable. It's really not applicable to modern cars.
    Brian Nystrom, May 8, 2004
  7. What he's doing is not in compliance with the law, but frankly I don't
    see the harm in rolling up to a stop sign/light in neutral and I do it
    myself at times. Unlike most people, I don't sit with the car idling if
    I know I'm going to be at a light for a while. With modern fuel injected
    engines, it's more economical to shut them off, unlike back in the days
    when all cars had carburetors.

    The laws against coasting were written back when cars all had
    unreliable, fade prone drum brakes. In the event of a brake failure,
    engine braking was the only alternative. For all practical purposes,
    brake failures of that type don't happen in modern cars.

    I do agree with others here that putting the car in neutral on the
    highway makes no sense and could be unsafe. If he wants to slow down, it
    is much more effective to back off the gas with the car in gear. I don't
    know what you mean by "when he does not need to accelerate". If he's
    cruising along and not accellerating, the car still needs to be in gear
    in order to maintain its speed. Frankly, it sounds like your friend
    could benefit from installing cruise control.
    Brian Nystrom, May 8, 2004
  8. Yeah and he could be struck by lightning while being abducted by aliens,
    too! ;-)

    Let's be realistic. It takes at most a couple of tenths of a second to
    pop a car back in gear, especially for someone who does it all the time.
    Being in neutral doesn't compromise one's ability to steer, so pulling
    over is always an option.

    While I agree with you that putting the car in neutral on the highway is
    pointless, please explain exactly how a being in neutral is going to
    make any difference in the event of a blowout. The most common reaction
    in such an event is to hit the brakes. Most people who drive a standard
    will likely reflexively hit the brake and the clutch. While, this is not
    the best course of action, I fail to see how having the car in gear is
    going to be beneficial. In fact, one could reasonably argue that being
    in neutral may actually be safer, especially in the event of a front
    blowout on a front wheel drive car. The car can coast gradually to a
    stop, without the influence of engine braking causing it to pull harder
    to the side with the flat tire. In a front blowout in a rear drive car,
    engine braking would be beneficial, but that's not what we're dealing
    with, is it?

    I don't know how old you are, but I learned to drive when most cars were
    still rear drive. Many things we were taught are not only not applicable
    to front drive cars, they can be dangerous. For example, in the event of
    a rear end skid, we were taught to turn into the skid and back off the
    gas, which is correct with rear drive, since the engine braking will
    slow the rear end and pull it back in line. However, if you do that in a
    front drive car, you'll spin it, since the engine braking slows down the
    front end, making the rear end skid worse. The proper technique is
    actually to accellerate slightly, but how many of us realize that or
    practice it enough to break our old habits?

    BTW, what specifically do you mean by the vague reference to "a parts
    failure"? There are a lot of parts on a car and most of them could fail
    without affecting the driver's ability to control the vehicle.
    Brian Nystrom, May 8, 2004
  9. Elijah Bailey

    Steve W. Guest

    In the time it takes to "pop the vehicle back into gear" you have
    already had the accident.
    Plus since this person is going for their drivers test how much have
    they actually driven?
    Especially in a high stress situation like accident avoidance you will
    probably not think about having to
    put the vehicle back in gear.
    using your own example, how do you accelerate out of the skid if the
    transmission is in neutral?

    The simple facts are
    1. In EVERY state coasting is ILLEGAL, doesn't matter if you feel that
    is wrong or not.
    2. If the vehicle is in neutral you are NOT IN TOTAL CONTROL of that

    Oh and FYI I have been driving a LONG time, in vehicles ranging from Geo
    Metros up to a 12 axle heavy hauler.
    I also own and drive two race cars. One dirt and one funny car. Started
    driving in a dirt car at the age of 14 and had 4 years in Karts
    before that. On average I drive about 100,000 miles a year just on the
    Steve W., May 8, 2004
  10. Elijah Bailey

    TDRacin® Guest

    I want to know how this "law" is enforced. lol Kinda reminds me of some
    of those sex laws, like no oral sex. Yeah OK, come ticket me for that.
    TDRacin®, May 8, 2004
  11. Elijah Bailey

    Xiaoding Guest

    Tell him not to do that!

    It's not neccessary to put it in neutral, just dis-engage the clutch,
    keep it in gear. It might come in handy someday. I down shift to a
    stop, clutch dis-engaged, so I got the option to re-engage if I need
    to. The rules about keeping it in gear were written before the days
    of stop and go driving,
    it's just not realistic for todays roads. Of course the law, as
    usual, is an ass.

    For those who say that you should use the engine to slow down, I would
    that engines are for going, brakes are for stopping. Engine braking
    is way over-rated. If you got 5 miles in which to stop, sure, that's
    ok, but in my neck of the woods you got 100 feet or so. :)

    Xiaoding, May 10, 2004
  12. That's a rather baseless assumption.
    The original poster didn't specify if it was a first test, a renewal or
    someone moving in from out of state. For someone to develop a "habit" of
    putting the car in neutral, it's reasonable to assume that they've been
    driving for a while.
    No one said anything about cornering in neutral. I was simply making the
    point that many old laws and practices are no longer relevent and may
    even be detrimental.
    Agreed, but so what? It's also illegal to exceed the speed limit, but
    the majority of drivers do it virtually every time they get behind the
    wheel. It doesn't necessarily make them less safe, either.
    That is completely dependent on the circumstances. Under the wrong
    conditions, it's correct, but not as a blanket statement.
    Good for you, assuming that you like driving. ;-)
    Brian Nystrom, May 12, 2004
  13. Elijah Bailey

    Xiaoding Guest

    Don't know about that. Can't find anything about it in North Carolina laws.
    Xiaoding, May 19, 2004
  14. Elijah Bailey

    The Steven Guest

    Why is being in neutral dangerous?

    One word..... Ice.

    'nuf said.
    The Steven, May 22, 2004
  15. What does ice have to do with it?
    Brian Nystrom, May 23, 2004
  16. Elijah Bailey

    The Steven Guest

    What does ice have to do with it?

    Simple.... What happens if the road you are driving on is covered with ice,
    you come to a stop sign or red light, you shift out of gear into
    neutral..... the drive wheels lock up and then what happens.... skid, slip,
    and slide. crash.... oops.

    That, in my opinion, why you should downshift to brake, down to 2nd gear and
    then take the transmission out of gear.
    The Steven, May 27, 2004
  17. Elijah Bailey

    Loop Guest

    Why exactly will the drive wheels lock up if you're in neutral?
    Loop, May 27, 2004

  18. Sorry, but that makes no sense at all. Downshifting puts all the braking
    force on the front wheels, which makes them more likely to slide. Using
    the brakes distributes the braking force over all 4 wheels (the fronts
    will see ~70%), so the front wheels are less likely to slide and the
    braking contributed by the rear wheels is beneficial in keeping the car
    from spinning if the fronts do lock.

    You need to re-examine your conceptions of vehicle dynamics. You're
    still living in the rear wheel drive age.
    Brian Nystrom, May 27, 2004
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