Home Discussion Forum Should I shift to neutral with an automatic transmission?

Should I shift to neutral with an automatic transmission?

The car has the option of being put into a manual transmission mode and paddle shifted, but I’m ususally in automatic mode. Will this help my brakes last longer? Use less fuel? Put less strain on my engine while idleing? Cause more wear on my transmission? How about when in stop and go traffic? Or am I waisting my time? Saturn Aura 3.6L VVT.


  1. I’d leave it in automatic mode most of the time, and only use the paddle shifting for fun once in awhile. I would NOT put it into neutral to coast to a stop, thinking you’ll get better mileage, nor would I routinely use the transmission to slow me down.
    The reason is you may cause excess wear on the transmission in the 2nd case, and may accidentally shift into reverse or even park in the first case. Transmission repairs are horrendously expensive. It will cost you at least $250-300 for the shop to remove it and diagnose what’s wrong. After that, figure on spending at least $500 more, more likely $1000 more.
    Brakes are routine wear items. They WILL wear out, but they are designed to be easy to service. Often the first job that budding mechanics are assigned is a brake job.
    So use the brakes, coast to stops in drive, get the oil and transmission fluid changed at regular recommended intervals, and you should get lots of miles out of your car.

  2. If you are good at using manual transmission, I would say use it. You will have better gas mileage, and if you choose to downshift you can save your brakes a little (though I personally don’t downshift to slow down.) In stop and go traffic you may wear your transmission down a little bit this way, but I’ve got a Saturn with close to 150K miles on the same manual transmission, and it still works fine.


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