You’re at the top of a hill, gazing down at the road below. You switch your car into neutral, believing you’ll save gas and get free speed by coasting downhill. What you might not realize is that this practice not only doesn’t save gas, but it could cause a crash. Here are some very good reasons why you shouldn’t coast downhill.
It Doesn’t Save Gas
Some claim a car traveling downhill in neutral gets better mileage because the momentum is creating “free” speed, like a snowball rolling downhill.
Here’s the problem. When you shift into neutral, the vehicle isn’t injecting fuel. To prevent stalling, the car needs more fuel to shift out of neutral than you would use if you drove downhill while in drive. Not only that, but a car in neutral uses about as much fuel as a car idling at a stoplight.
It Puts You At Risk
The other problem with coasting downhill is that it leaves you without a means of acceleration. If you need to suddenly avoid an obstacle or turn a sharp corner, it will be much more difficult to stay in control.
Similarly, it’s not uncommon for a driver to forget they are in neutral and struggle with the control to get back into drive while simultaneously trying to avoid a crash.
But the biggest issue is that engine braking is not possible in neutral. This means your car does not downshift as you hit the brakes. That means a much longer stopping distance, which can dramatically increase your chances of causing a wreck.
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