To Drive or Overdrive... - Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-17-2012, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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To Drive or Overdrive...

...That is the question.

So I read the discussion about the differences between putting the transmission in drive or overdrive, and which is better for certain situations...and I'm still confused.

I just recently purchased my '99 wagon, and tried it in both Drive and Overdrive. My 40-mile (round trip) daily commute is about 1/3 65 mph highway, 2/3 45-mph slightly hilly two-lane with some stops and starts. When in Drive only, I noticed it was over 3K RPM at speed, which was making the ol' Vulcan chug pretty hard. In Overdrive, it hums along at just a tick over 2000, although it gear-hunts on the hills a little. So which is better for the life of the transmission?

Also, can you shift from Drive to Overdrive at speed?

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- 1999 Mercury Sable LS Wagon - 3.0l Vulcan -AX4N - Toreador Red on gray - Ford Taurus front end (salvage car) - 135K original miles[FONT=Arial]
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-17-2012, 10:49 PM
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While you are on hills pop it into Drive to lock it in so it won't hunt. When you are done with the hills, change it to OD. I use D for anything under say, 40, that I know won't be without a stop for miles.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 12:09 AM

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I have a duratec engine, roughly 45 more horsepower than the vulcan. I tried using Drive for a while when I was under 45mph and OD on the highway, or other higher speed situations...

I noticed a gas milage drop when I did that. Got about 18mpg a tank. So now I use OD all the time and get around 20mpg like normal. About half highway miles.

It won't hurt to switch between D and OD, I sometimes will switch down to D on a big hill. The duratec has more pull, so at 35mph it doesn't need to unlock the TC or shift down to 3rd to take smaller hills. The vulcan will need to downshift.

I hear that people say its better to put a vulcan in D when not on the highway (places with lots of stop and go), and OD when higher speeds/highway. There is NO reason to keep it in D going 65, that just wastes gas. I'd say drop it into D before you get on the highway and after you get off.

Keep in mind that dropping from D to 1 can hurt it though. Especially older trans will slam into first when you dip below 15mph or so. Otherwise they will just drop down to second if you are going faster than 20mph. It will stay in first if from a stop and then stop at fuel cutoff (6500rpm). Same thing with second. With D it will govern before you get to fuel cutoff so it doesn't matter (around 100mph).


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 12:30 AM
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Just to be clear, selecting drive limits the transmission to 3rd gear, while using overdrive allows it to shift into 4th gear.

Personally, I leave my car in overdrive 99.8% of the time. If you encounter a hill, you can just push the gas pedal more until the car downshifts into 3rd. The only reason you would want to use drive instead of overdrive would be if the transmission keeps shifting between 3rd and 4th. Once the terrain smooths out, you should shift back to overdrive. You will get the best fuel economy by leaving the car in overdrive as much as possible.

Shifting while the car is moving can be dangerous because it's easy to overshoot into another gear like neutral or low (or even reverse). This can cause a distraction while driving until the problem is corrected, so most safety advocates don't advise changing gears while the car is in motion (it's best to do it at a complete stop).
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 06:27 AM
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Drive is best reserved for driving in hilly terrain. Heck, sometimes 2-nd gear is even better. By this I don't mean just to have enough power to climb over one hill. Using drive or even the second gear is very helpful on a twisty mountain road that changes slopes rapidly, sometimes dropping down and sometimes going up. In such situations you will have far more control over the car if you use a lower gear. Not only the throttle is more responsive, but you also have additional engine braking which makes car more controllable when driving downhill or approaching the curves and it is easier on the brakes. I probably use this once a year when I go on a ski trip. Once I even found D useful on a highway. The I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix in Arizona drops something like 6,000 ft over less than 100 miles. It's been the case many times that I find the car coasting at 90mph without even trying hard. Shifting into D in many sections added the necessary engine braking power.

The drive gear is also useful in situations when you need to overtake someone on a narrow 2-lane road, so you don't lose precious time by letting the transmission spend time on deciding when to downshift. Granted, I don't think I'd use Drive position as often as I do if my floor shifter lever didn't have the little "overdrive off" button. I can find it with my eyes closed. It's basically downshift on demand. It's not installed on all cars.

Last edited by fct; 11-18-2012 at 06:37 AM.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 06:56 AM
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I have a 2004 Duratec with 220,000 miles on the original transmission. Have just left it in OD unless I want to brake a little going down a steep hill. Have done that with all my Duratecs ('96 '98 '04)
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 01:59 PM
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OD all the time, lol.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by sheila View Post
OD all the time, lol.
Now exactly what kind of OD do you do all the time, Sheila?!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 03:52 PM
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Put it in OD and go. The ONLY time I don't is when I'm going down a long hill and drop it down to 'engine brake' the car instead of heating up the pads/rotors.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:15 AM
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Pretty much, I just OD.
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