Shifting without the clutch is like catching a baseball in your teeth.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

After reading your response to the recent letter about the downshifting debate, I was forced to concede defeat to my wife. She has always followed your advice not to downshift when coasting to a stop, despite my criticism, teeth gnashing, and general ranting. We now need you to resolve another debate. When coming to a stop, I often downshift without the use of the clutch. Such downshifting can only be accomplished by an extremely skillful and experienced driver, as the movement of the shifter requires the utmost in sensitivity and handling. After accomplishing such an heroic feat, I am faced with only one problem: my wife's hostility as she reiterates that I am damaging the automobile. Who's right? We eagerly await your reply. We have both agreed to abide by your ruling, but only if it's unanimous.

RAY: You should have quit while you were behind, Ronald. Now you're 0 and 2.

TOM: Shifting without the clutch is like catching a baseball in your teeth. If you get everything just right, the best you can hope for is to avoid doing serious damage. But if your timing is off just a little bit, well...hope you're fond of strained peas.

RAY: And that's exactly what can happen if you make a bad shift without the clutch. You can break teeth in your transmission. And transmissions run into money, Ron.

TOM: Your wife is right again, Ron. And our ruling (which is unanimous, and which you agreed to abide by) is that you do three things. One is to stop shifting without the clutch. Two is to go out and buy your wife a dozen roses to thank her for saving you from a potentially expensive (not to mention embarrassing) trans??mission rebuild. And the third is to practice saying "yes, dear," a lot more.

RAY: And write in again anytime you're having one of these marital disputes. This is fun.

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