Here’s an interesting breakdown of how bad habits can break your car, and how they change depending on whether you’re driving with a manual, automatic, CVT or dual-clutch transmission.
Jason Fenske has been doing a great job of conceptualizing how various parts of cars work on his YouTube channel Engineering Explained. Over the course of the year, he’s posted specific videos breaking down what not to do (any why) with different types of gearboxes. Now that he’s posted one about CVTs we have the complete set!
Spoiler alert, the big points are generally: don’t coast in neutral, don’t change direction without stopping, and don’t half-engage a gear—no matter what kind of car you’re driving.
But the finer points are a little more nuanced, and the explanation of why some bad habits should be avoided is always interesting.
Fenske’s main statement with manuals is “don’t rest your hand on the shifter.” He argues that you could cause premature wear on the little fork that engages the gear.
He also recommends putting the car in neutral at stoplights instead of holding in the clutch, to extend the life of your throwout bearing.
Pretty much the only time an automatic should be in neutral is when it’s getting towed. Take it out of gear while in motion releases significant control of the car, and the extra shifting causes unnecessary wear for no benefit.
And you probably already knew you shouldn’t put an automatic in park while you’re driving, but Fenske gives us a whiteboard-diagram as to exactly why not.
Dual clutch gearboxes like the ones found on the Volkswagen GTI, Ford Focus and a litany of performance cars behave differently than traditional automatic transmissions. They need to be treated differently as well.
Fenske says not to let the car “hover” on an incline without your foot on the brake, because unlike a “regular” automatic transmission the dual-clutch’s clutch pack will be spinning and contacting increasing heat unnecessarily.
Apparently dual-clutches also don’t like “inching forward,” especially when towing or going up a steep hill. Since the clutch is only partially engaged at low speed, it will wear faster.
CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
There are basically two types of CVTs– the “traditional” with power moving from the engine to the wheels through a system of pulleys, and an “E-CVT” in hybrid cars which adds an electric motor into the mix.
Most of the same driving logic from automatics can be applied to the CVT. Don’t rev the car up in neutral and throw it into drive, don’t put it in neutral unnecessarily.
Hopefully you’re not realizing you’ve been driving all wrong all this time after watching some of these, but I like how Fenske gets just technical enough to explain what’s going on between a car’s engine and the wheels.