Does my husband really need to down-shift?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1987 Plymouth Turismo with a five-speed manual transmission. My husband drives the car whenever we travel somewhere. He always down-shifts when he passes another car. Please explain the point of leaving fifth gear when the car is moving at 65 mph to pass someone who is moving at 55 or 60 mph. I see no purpose in it, nor do I believe the car needs any extra power to pass at that speed. In fact, I'll bet that the only purpose of down-shifting to pass at that speed is to sound "macho."

RAY: Whooa! Rebecca! Them's fightin' words! You're not only accusing your husband of being wrong. You're accusing him of being illogical, irrational, and driven by hormones rather than careful scientific reasoning! You're hitting below the belt, Rebecca!

TOM: But you happen to be right. This guy's nuts. At 65 mph, on flat ground, there's no reason to shift out of fifth gear. He IS just doing it to sound macho.

RAY: So you can tell him to cut it out if you want to, Rebecca. But if you do, make sure you give him another outlet for his machismo. Remember, it has to come out somewhere.

TOM: Maybe your travel agent has some ideas. Perhaps you could take him on one of those special two-day, four-night excursions to Pamplona next year for the running of the bulls?? Ole!

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