General Question

buckyboy28's avatar

Is it better to stay in neutral or first gear at a stop light?

Asked by buckyboy28 (4938points) November 28th, 2010

I’ve heard both things from many people. Does it really make a difference? Does putting it into neutral save your clutch, or does it really just keep your left foot from getting tired?

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11 Answers

syz's avatar

I’ve been told (and also taught in motorcycle safety class) to keep my vehicle in gear because you have more control in case of emergency (i.e., you’re about to be rear ended and have an escape route available).

YARNLADY's avatar

Keep your car in gear at all times.

jaytkay's avatar

Neutral at a light saves your clutch, riding the clutch wears it faster.

“if you sit at red lights with your foot on the clutch pedal all the time, you can wear out the throw-out bearing”

Read more:

“Keep your car in gear at all times.” is good advice when you are in motion.

jerv's avatar

I’ve seen quite a few cars driven both ways that had the original clutch and throwout bearing after many years (10+) and many miles (200K+), so I think that the wear issue is only really important if you are in a car that sucks.

Personally, I generally leave it in gear most of the time as I have almost been rear-ended too many times to feel comfortable in neutral in traffic. When I hear the guy coming up behind me at 50 MPH going into a four-wheel skid (again!), I really want to be able to get out of the way ASAP.

john65pennington's avatar

I can only tell you this: in each state, its a traffic law violation to coast down a hill with the transmission in neutral.

Based on this law, i would say that keeping the cars transmission in D, would be mandatory. i have nothing to backup my opinion, other than this other law.

I worked a traffic accident where the car in front of another car was waiting for the light to turn green. both cars were on a small incline. front car was in neutral(manual transmission) and waiting for the light to turn green. foot slipped off the brake pedal and rolled backwards into the behind vehicle. front vehicle was at-fault for not having his vehicle under control and improper backing.

So you see, it can go either way, depending on the circumstances.

jerv's avatar

Another way to look at it is like this; I have arthritis in my left knee due to an old work injury. Keeping the clutch pressed in makes it feel like someone stabbed me behind the kneecap with an ice-pick, especially in the wintertime or when it’s raining.

Now, if I can still hold the clutch in anyways, then “My foot is tired!” is a lame-assed excuse from a lazy bastard who really should just drive a slushbox or not be driving at all.

@john65pennington That takes a special kind of special right there. Even on the steepest hills I’ve driven, I’ve never rolled back more than about a foot, so I have to wonder how inattentive that front guy was. Even most tailgaters leave more room than that!

lillycoyote's avatar

I’ve heard that it’s best to put your car in neutral at a red light to save wear and tear on the clutch. About 60–70% of the time I do; I put it in neutral and release the clutch and the rest of the time I don’t. If I know it’s usually a short light I don’t bother and the rest of the time I just forget.

lillycoyote's avatar

@john65pennington I think you’re talking about a car with an automatic transmission, in terms of laws regarding coasting in neutral but I could be wrong; and if that guy rolled back that far on the incline he probably shouldn’t be driving a manual, even though shit does happens sometimes and generally, in the U.S. at least, manual transmissions are uncommon enough these days that people don’t leave you even the tiniest bit of wiggle room on a hill sometimes but it is still up to you to make sure that you can accelerate from a full stop on a hill without running into the car in back of you.

jerv's avatar

@lillycoyote Few things suck more than forgetting you are in neutral and redlining your engine :P

Kraigmo's avatar

Manual transmissions such as your should be put in neutral at red lights.

Automatic transmissions should remain in Drive mode.

lillycoyote's avatar

@jerv Followed closely by downshifting from 5th into 2nd at 55mph which I’ve done a couple of times. :-)

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