Switch to neutral, save on gas?

Switch to neutral, save on gas?

In theory it makes sense. But in practice, it rarely pays


Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Q: “When I’m waiting at a traffic light, should I shift my automatic transmission to neutral to save on gas?”

— Mukesh Aggarwal, Mississauga, Ont.

A: In theory, there may be a minute reduction in fuel consumption when shifting into neutral because the transmission will be totally disengaged from the engine, but the actual savings will likely be too small for you to measure. The downside is that you’ll need to shift back into drive when the light turns green. Repeatedly putting the shifter in gear may eventually stress components like the transmission, driveshaft joints, and engine and transmission mounts, so I don’t recommend it.

George Iny is the president of the Automobile Protection Association. Send him your automotive questions at [email protected].