You can not only feel the jerk...if you look in the driver's seat, you can see him, too.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

We have a car with an automatic transmission. My husband has several habits I'd like you to comment on. While backing out of a parking space, he'll shift the car from Reverse to Drive before coming to a complete stop. When going forward, he'll put the car in reverse before stopping. He says it has no effect of the transmission, but I can feel the "jerk." What do you think?

RAY: You can not only feel the jerk, Miriam, if you look in the driver's seat, you can actually see him, too. This is exactly the kind of driving habit that wrecks cars.

TOM: Let me draw a little analogy for you. Imagine that you're walking down the street, and we want you to walk in the other direction. There are two ways we could do it. The nice way would be to tap you on the shoulder, stop you, turn you around, and start you walking the other way.

RAY: Or, we could have Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants run straight at you, and without warning, plow into you with a cross body block. That would get you going in the other direction too, but there'd be a limit to how many shots like that you could take.

TOM: When your husband shifts before stopping, he's doing to the drive train what the Lawrence Taylor would be doing to you in the scenario we just described. He's harming the transmission, the differential, the CV joints, and everything connected to the drive train. They're all turning in one direction, and when he shifts before stopping, he slams them in the other direction.

RAY: We discuss this very issue in our book CAR TALK. Refer your husband to Chapter Eight, which is called "Making It Last." And Miriam, if you have any success reforming the jerk, let me know. I've been trying to find a way to deal with my brother for years.

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