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#4483421 - 08/09/17 08:35 AM auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear
OilUzer Offline


Registered: 07/31/17
Posts: 136
Loc: WA
Hello everyone,

I am new here, this is a very informative site and a lot of knowledgeable people here. I found this site when I was researching 0W-20 Synthetic oil but I have another question. I am sure you all are tired of 0W-20 synthetic vs. dino questions! lol

I recently bought an auto 5.7L v8 after driving manual trans cars forever ... when I am going about 30 MPH and not accelerating for example in city driving, the car is in the 5TH gear and about 1000 RPM and then it shifts into 6th gear (highest) at about 40 mph. not sure if the torque converter is locked or not ... the rpm is so low that I can't tell!

I manually shift it back to 3rd gear when going 30 mph to get the rpm at least near or below 2000.
coming from manual trans background the 5th/30mph is kind of a foreign concept!

I am not concerned about fuel consumption otherwise I wouldn't have bought a v8! I wish the car had a 5 front gear manual trans!
not sure what is the best for the engine & transmission in a long run. let it do its thing or take over?

Thank you!

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#4483425 - 08/09/17 08:38 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
Schmoe Offline


Registered: 05/12/03
Posts: 7256
Loc: Oklahoma
Seems to be the "in" thing now. Our new F150's here do that I've noticed. I wouldn't worry about it and let it do its thing.
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#4483447 - 08/09/17 09:00 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
meep Offline


Registered: 02/20/07
Posts: 3548
Loc: Southeast
Let it spin on down low. It'll rev and shift if you need it to. I personally enjoy having a large engine that just loafs along at low revs.
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#4483450 - 08/09/17 09:01 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
Phishin Offline


Registered: 05/01/12
Posts: 2425
Loc: Indiana
One of the worst vehicles I've ever driven that does this is my 1990 K1500 Chevy truck.

That truck shifts to OD at 35MPH!!!! So when I drive around town, I always keep the transmission out of OD. Otherwise, it wants to lug all the time.

I guess this is why installing a "shift kit" was so popular in the 80's and early 90's.
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#4483459 - 08/09/17 09:08 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: Phishin]
TooManyWheels Offline


Registered: 02/21/03
Posts: 3762
Loc: Houston, Tex
I'm on the forum for the new Colorado/Canyons and this drives many people crazy, to the point of buying aftermarket reprogramming (tunes).

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#4483511 - 08/09/17 09:57 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
totegoat Offline


Registered: 12/21/11
Posts: 1261
Loc: Ca
I manually shift my autos all the time. Just adds to the fun of driving for me, plus around town, lower gears help my Cummins warm up and the exhaust brake is more effective.

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#4483533 - 08/09/17 10:13 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
KrisZ Offline


Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 7456
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I would let it do its thing on a daily basis, it will not hurt neither the engine nor transmission, despite what others might feel about it.
You have to remember that a fluid coupling allows slippage, unlike a friction type coupling, so you really cannot lug the engine.
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#4483569 - 08/09/17 10:47 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
zorobabel Offline


Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 477
Loc: Anaheim, CA
My Maxima stays in OD with the TC locked a bit bellow 35 MPH at 1100 rpm, and even going uphill - up to a point. It obviously lugs the engine, and even thought I'm not sure how ping sounds like, it must be the noise and vibration this engine makes at 1100 rpm under load.
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#4483571 - 08/09/17 10:48 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
Lolvoguy Offline


Registered: 02/06/14
Posts: 2323
Loc: Canada
On the Focus in my sig, I have started locking out the 4th gear around town.
From my understanding, lugging the engine and causing it to constantly shift b/t 3 and 4th gears causes harm to the engine and trans. Better to just lock it out until higher speeds are reached.
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#4483626 - 08/09/17 11:50 AM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
69GTX Offline


Registered: 09/23/15
Posts: 3815
Loc: Connecticut
For 3-4 mile trips near home the car never sees over 40 mph and my shift point to OD is at 35-38 mph. These days I just leave it in 3rd for shorter distances. Once up to 45 mph OD is fine. Though to be honest, I have a tough time telling when the TC is locked or unlocked.

I can't see how a transmission hunting all the time from 3rd gear to OD and back (35-42 mph) can be anything but detrimental to it. And keeping it in 3rd for the first few miles (2000 rpm) will speed up the engine oil warmup to the desired 170-180 deg range.
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2001 Lincoln Cont 4.6L DOHC/ 39K mi / QS HM 5w30 / FUG XG2
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#4483685 - 08/09/17 12:55 PM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: Phishin]
Duffyjr Offline


Registered: 01/13/16
Posts: 503
Loc: Nebraska
Originally Posted By: Phishin
One of the worst vehicles I've ever driven that does this is my 1990 K1500 Chevy truck.

That truck shifts to OD at 35MPH!!!! So when I drive around town, I always keep the transmission out of OD. Otherwise, it wants to lug all the time.


My 89 GMC does the same thing, kind of glad to hear this since I had a rebuild put in 3k ago so I know it's normal.

Do you notice it shifts harder when in D vs OD?
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#4483703 - 08/09/17 01:16 PM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
Propflux01 Offline


Registered: 09/26/02
Posts: 3398
Loc: Arkansastan
I actually like it on my Elantra. Less noise, and no reason to rev when just loafing along. What I dislike is the auto downshift when I let off the gas, especially down a grade. It drops to 5th automatically (hiway) whether it needs to or not. I know they do it for compression braking, but to me, harder on tranny, and brake pads are cheaper.
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#4483851 - 08/09/17 04:01 PM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
Johnny2Bad Offline


Registered: 05/20/13
Posts: 1810
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
With an auto transmission, put her in Drive and forget about it. If you tow or haul a heavy load, turn off the overdrive.

If the shifting bothers you, and it's available on your model (you don't say what year/make/model it is ... do so next time you ask for help here) try Sport mode.
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#4483860 - 08/09/17 04:09 PM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: Phishin]
Kibitoshin Offline


Registered: 04/19/16
Posts: 686
Loc: Kaiōshinkai
Originally Posted By: Phishin
One of the worst vehicles I've ever driven that does this is my 1990 K1500 Chevy truck.

That truck shifts to OD at 35MPH!!!! So when I drive around town, I always keep the transmission out of OD. Otherwise, it wants to lug all the time.

I guess this is why installing a "shift kit" was so popular in the 80's and early 90's.


I find my 02 Silverado to go into OD around 30mph then lock up at 35mph. If I keep on the gas while approaching a hill it won't unlock until it gets below 30mph. Lugging an automatic around 1,000RPM's is a sight to see.
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#4483889 - 08/09/17 04:35 PM Re: auto trans - Low speed driving in high gear [Re: OilUzer]
brave sir robin Offline


Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 300
Loc: California
This is from the owners manual of my old 6 spd 1997 SS Camaro.

bear in mind 6th gear on 4th gens was a .50 overdrive
70mph in 6th was around 1500rpm if memory serves and I think skip shift kept you around 1000-1100 rpm. That "feature" used to really let you know the transmission mounts were working thats for sure.

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