Monday, March 8, 2021

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Manual vs Automatic cars: Is it okay to skip gears?

For one reason or another, there are times were you think it might be beneficial to start off from a stop in second gear rather than first in your manual transmission car. In most cases, though, doing that will cause more wear on your clutch. Why? Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained is here to, well, explain.

It all comes down to how much you have to slip the clutch to keep the engine from stalling. In first gear, you have to slip the clutch up to a certain speed (5 mph, for example) to get it fully engaged, while in second, you might have to slip the clutch for a longer time up to a higher speed (10 mph, lets say) to get it fully engaged. The only scenario where starting in second doesn’t incur more clutch wear is if you’re starting on a downhill, or you’re already rolling forward when you begin engaging the clutch.

Starting in second isn’t nearly as bad for an automatic transmission, which uses a fluid drive to transmit power to the transmission rather than a clutch plate. In fact, many new automatic cars often start out in second gear as a default unless you put them in a sport mode or mash the throttle from a stop. This is done for smoother acceleration and better fuel economy.

But those are very simple explanations. Let Fenske show you the ins and outs of why starting in second gear probably isn’t a good idea.

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