My Toyota Camry's engine feels like it's constantly looking for the right gear.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1998 Toyota Camry LE V6 which has a couple of disappointing
characteristics. I drive frequently in town at around 40 mph. While driving at
that speed, it feels like the engine is constantly searching for the right gear.
The only advice I've gotten from the dealer is to disengage the Overdrive while
in the city. But, when I do that, the car almost feels like the emergency brake
is on when I let my foot off the gas. Any advice? -- Tom

RAY: Yes. Listen to your dealer. You're driving the car right at the speed at
which it shifts between Third gear and Overdrive (Fourth gear). In automotive
parlance, the transmission is "hunting." If you crawled under the car, you'd
probably see it dressed up in one of those orange safety vests.

TOM: The only way to eliminate the hunting is to either change your driving (not
drive at 40 mph in the city), which would probably be very inconvenient, or shift
out of Overdrive and force the car to stay in Third gear.

RAY: And while taking it out of Overdrive does eliminate the hunting, you do
experience a little more "engine braking." Personally, I think it's hardly
noticeable at 40 mph, but you're obviously a sensitive driver and it bothers you.

TOM: Neither engine braking nor hunting will do your car any harm, Tom. It's
really just a question of preference, Tom. Which one do you find less annoying?

RAY: That's a question our readers and radio listeners ask themselves about US
all the time!

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