General Question

seek2be's avatar

Is it better to downshift when driving a standard?

Asked by seek2be (127 points ) April 24th, 2008

I drive a standard 91 Toyota Pickup and have different advice on whether or not to downshift. Some people have told me it does not really matter and you can simply shift into neutral and coast to a stomp to lay off your clutch. However, I have also been told down shifting is better for your transmission. But, the only explanation i have been able to get as to why this is so is the vague explanation that it is good to cycle to gears backwards. But i do not understand why. Can anyone explain all of this to me, i LOVE this truck and want it to last forever.

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12 Answers

Hollister0221's avatar

are you down shifting to come to a stop? I drove a toyota standard love it and I only downshift most of time in a turn

seek2be's avatar

ya, to clarify, I am asking about downshifting to stop. I typically just go from 3rd to neutral, coast to the stop sign, and shift to first.

wildflower's avatar

I have no idea of the ins and outs of transmissions and what nots, but you burn less gas in neutral than in lower gear…....and I’ve only ever driven standard/manual and always done what you do if distance and time allows.

Hollister0221's avatar

true to burning gas when down shifting. You rev your engine up and that burns gas and I can’t see how it would be good for your engine. Use the brakes that’s what they are there for

Hollister0221's avatar

but hey you have a yota. You can’t break them. Lol

seek2be's avatar

Ya, like i said, i LOVE this truck. I would be happy never getting a new vehicle and just making repairs on this one the rest of my life LOL! So i want to treat it as nicely as possible.

Hollister0221's avatar

well than use all the coponents on it. Including the brakes

TrenchMouth's avatar

Go with the breaks. I have a Toyota as well. Down shifting can be fun, but never as fast a stop. I have heard that downshifting is in some ways beneficial for the components but I have no mechanical knowledge to back that up with. I have had my standard Camry for 6 years now and it was handed down to me from a family friend when I went to college. It has 170k miles on it. I had never driven a standard before and it is still running fine. So either I am doing something right or the car is just indestructible.

reed's avatar

Many years ago when brakes were not as robust as they are today, the conventional wisdom was to downshift to help slow down the vehicle to save the wear and tear on the brakes. This is no longer necessary with today’s brakes. Downshifting may increase the wear a bit on the transmission’s throw-out bearing but I wouldn’t be overly concerned. To address a previous answer that claimed that downshifting burns more gas, this is incorrect. Downshifting will increase the RPM’s but there isn’t more gas being introduced into the engine that causes this increase, its simply a gearing issue.

syz's avatar

I heard a similar question on Car Talk. The husband used the clutch (downshifting) to assist in stopping, the wife thought brakes would be adequate. Click and Clack agreed with the wife – they said that brakes are designed to be used, worn out and replaced. A clutch is mush more expensive to replace and should last much longer than brake pads.

RebeccaLove's avatar

I use downshifting for stopping on occasion…depending on the incline. It also depends on the situation; If I am needing to stop more abruptly, then downshifting can really cause me to have a “gentler” more comfortable stop than if I had just braked really hard.

Using a manual transmission for all of it’s benefits is the reason why I bought one in the first place; more control of my vehicle. There are also many times where downshifting has caused me to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

I don’t drive this way to save my brakes, I just drive in the most skillful manner that I know how!

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I have a 91 Toyota as well. Mine is 4×4 and I love it. Here’s the facts. Downshifting may not harm your transmission, but it does engage your clutch. The clutch plate does wear out over time, and the best way is to only downshift when necessary, like cornering or to avoid a situation. Otherwise, leave it in whatever gear you are in as you come to a stop. Keep your foot off the clutch. Pull it out of gear and put it in neutral just before the engine lugs to die. Pulling it out of gear without using the clutch does NOT harmthe transmission as long as you ar enot forcing it. While sitting at the stoplight, stop sign, or at any sort of stop, do NOT engage the clutch until you are getting ready to go. (this is the number one error people with a standard transmission make, of sitting still and holding down the clutch with the vehicle in gear). Just sit in neutral with your foot firmly on the brake. Here’s why.

The clutch plate wears out with use. Sitting at a light with your vehicle in gear and your foot holding the clutch down creates unnecessary wear on that plate. You are burning up the clutch while you are not moving. It is not necessary, and when it comes time to replace that clutch, it is going to cost you a fortune. Brakes are cheaper than clutches. My mechanic told me this. He has a 1996 Chevy S-10, standard transmission, and has never replaced the clutch. I just paid for new brake calipers on my Toyota, and it was expensive, but not the $1600 it would be to replace my clutch.

I also used to drive an 8 ton commercial vehicle (Haz Mat with air brakes) and that was how I was taught, to not use the clutch unless absolutely necessary.

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