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2003 Cross Sports
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
For those of you with a 4EAT, when you come to a stop light or are in traffic, do you keep the car in gear and step on the brake or do you repeatedly change between neutral and drive?

I keep changing the gear and have never thought about it until a friend drove with me and asked why I do that? I have no idea if there is actually any benefit of going into neutral at a stop. Does it keep temps down? I doubt it reduces wear as the gears aren't turning.
 

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07 XT
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70 Posts
For those of you with a 4EAT, when you come to a stop light light or are in traffic, do you keep the car in gear and step on the brake or do you repeatedly change between neutral and drive?

I keep changing the gear and have never thought about it until a friend drove with me and asked why I do that? I have no idea if there is actually any benefit of going into neutral at a stop. Does it keep temps down? I doubt it reduces wear as the gears aren't turning.
I leave it on D all the time in the road... I guess my reasons are: one, I don't think it makes such a difference on fuel consumption and certainly not gear wear, and second, I reckon that multiplies the number of changes on the shifter, and my fear is that could develop some play on it...
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,501 Posts
Bad idea. Moving it in and out of gear probaboy shortens its life over time. No reason to ever do it.
 

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2001 Forester
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1,140 Posts
Eh, to be perfectly honest about 50% of the time I drive I manually shift between 1,2,3 and D. So I don't think you are really doing any harm.
 

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2018 ForesterXT Touring..
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2,740 Posts
My dad has been doing that for years and his Subaru GL-10(1988) has had no tranny problems. I remember reading in a magazine years ago shifting into neutral when at a stop light saves extra wear on the brakes. This is my first auto vehicle and I shift into neutral too-I'm not worried about it.
 

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When you're at a stop with your foot on the brake, the transmission should be automatically putting it in neutral. Shifting to neutral will have absolutely no benefit. Just keep it in D.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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When the engine is cold & is still not up to temperature, I'll shift to N at a traffic light. This seems to take some load off the still warming engine. Once it's up to temperature, I never use N. I'm one of those drivers that like to keep the 4EAT in 3 around town & shift to D when I'm above 50 MPH. I always shift down from D to 3 when I come to a stop, or I drop below 50 MPH. I've always done this on my '03 X & now my '07 FSXT & I haven't noticed any additional wear. :smile:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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2004 2.5xt
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122 Posts
Torque converter comes into play on this a bit, you shouldn't have to switch into neutral with newer cars, now if you have something with some sort of race transmission in it (mostly muscle cars in my experience), then you would definitely put it into neutral at a light.
 

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2010 Forester 2.5X
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1,692 Posts
Why buy an automatic if you always shift it to neutral at light all the time..
 

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2007 Forester XT Sports 4EAT
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541 Posts
I frequently bump into N, I don't like holding the brakes on hot rotors. That's how they warp, cooling at different rates. Probably not too big a deal in stop/go traffic.
 

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2007 Mitsubishi Pajero 5spd Automatic
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3,572 Posts
I keep it in gear. Never put it in N. If I'm to put it in anything else while at a stop I put it in park so I don't have to hold on the brakes. But that would be a long time standing there.
 

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2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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Just leave it in Drive. That's what a torque converter is for.
 

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2009 Forester 2.5x
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702 Posts
Well this is old school for sure: if I am in stop and go traffic during very hot weather and have the AC blasting away continuously, I will put the Forester into neutral at any prolonged red light or traffic jam. Every car I've ever owned has suggested doing this in its owner's manual--except my 09 Forester. Can't find anything in the manual suggesting I do this. Probably the engine cooling system, the AC system, and the vehicles ECU are all so finely tuned that putting it in neutral is no longer necessary. But I'm sure I'll keep doing it. Will also put the engine in neutral for several minutes before shutting it down after a prolonged session of any kind of "severe service " driving.
just my $.02
Steve
09 2.5X AT
 

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2010 Forester
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121 Posts
This article does not address the question of what to do when stopped at a traffic light, it discusses, instead, what to do when coasting. It claims shifting to neutral does not help when coasting and describes how the injectors shut off fuel flow when coasting. They can not cut off all fuel flow as the engine would stop running. What I suspect is that that they meant to say that the engine management systems are smart enough to cut fuel usage to a minimum when coasting while keeping the engine running. That still leaves the question of what to when stopped. I suspect that the engine management systems do attempt to reduce fuel consumption at idle when stopped, but it isn't clear to me if shifting to neutral might help slightly or not.


Hers a link to a story Car and Driver did a couple issues back...they say not to do this as it does more harm then good. Just leave it in drive.
When Coasting to a Stop, do Not Shift Into Neutral - Feature - Car and Driver

Kenny
 

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99 UK S-turbo
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8,566 Posts
Most auto's still do not use an 'idle neutral' condition, so sitting at a stop with it in gear will use about twice as much fuel (about double while stopped, although in outright terms its not much fuel) as shifting into Neutral.

Cash or Co2, whichever you ar worried about will be improved, if you don't worry about either, leave it in D.

Simon
 

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2004 XT AT
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1,101 Posts
Most auto's still do not use an 'idle neutral' condition
Now this is something I've wondered about for a while. The sales brochure for my 2004 XT says something like 'direct control AT selects a "virtual neutral" when stopped in D range with the brakes on, saving fuel'. I'm sure if it did that I could tell - there'd be a drop in revs, as it re-engages drive.

Anyone know if it really does do that - or was the brochure wrong?

FWIW I only change into N at quite long stops, not every traffic light. I know idling in D uses more fuel, but I've read that constantly shifting in and out of drive increases wear on the braking members inside the gearbox. (True?)

-- Steve
 
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