Clutches, Broken Speedometers and Transmission Filters

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

A friend of mine and I have been having an ongoing debate concerning gear shifting. Whenever I need to shift into neutral, I always depress the clutch and then move the stick. He insists that I am causing excess wear on my clutch. HE waits for the RPM's to drop down to the level at which a car normally idles, as he is breaking towards a red light, for example, and then simply pulls the stick into neutral. In addition, sometimes he doesn't even use the clutch when shifting INTO gear. For example, after he is in first gear and gets up to speed, he will let the RPM's level off, and then just ease the stick down into second. He is good at this and there is no grinding sound or jerking. By doing this, he says that he has not had to change his clutch in about 80,000 miles so far. It may even be more than that. Is his argument valid? Am I causing excess wear on my clutch by using it to shift into neutral and into other gears? Or is he damaging his gears by not using the clutch whenever he shifts?
Tyler G

You are operating your vehicle correctly. Your friend however might have a transmission that either has very good synchros or is slightly worn. I had a 83 Plymouth with the old 1.7 l 4 cylinder. This car was able to shift without the clutch, but only at certain RPM's. In response to your question about shifting into neutral, if you leave the car in gear as you stop, then "slide" it out of gear, you are actually causing more harm to the engine than anything else. Let me put it to you this way, I had a truck with a manual transmission that I drove for over 50,000 miles without the need for a clutch (I sold it before it needed one) and I used it the "normal" way. By the way, that Plymouth that I told you about, needed a clutch after 30-40k miles of driving.

Hi Bob,
My odometer doesn't work. I don't know how fast I am going or how many miles I've traveled. It's driving me nuts. They both used to work. Don't remember when they quite, but it was sometime after my hubby worked on the car. He has done what he knows to do but can't figure out what the problem. I am not sure what he has checked or done. Can you help? I've already received one speeding ticket.

Sorry to hear about your problem! Try checking a fuse (if it's an electric one) or the cable at the tranny. Do you hear any squeaks or anything? does the needle bounce at the zero point and not go higher or is it just dead? The reason that the odometer does not work is because it is off of the speedo.

Hi Bob,
I've got a question that I've wondered about for a while & I hope that you can give me an answer one way or another. Everytime I have changed the transmission fluid & filter on my car ('87 Pontiac 6000), I begin loosening the many bolts which hold the drain pan onto the underside of the transmission. Naturally, once I've loosened enough of the bolts, the fluid begins to drain out of the pan all around the edges. This usually leads to minor burns and major messes. The question is this: Would there be any reason why I could not drill a hole in the drain pan--after removal, of course--tap threads into the hole with a tap and die set, & insert a bolt into the newly-threaded hole for future use as a drain plug just like the oil drain pan has? Is transmission fluid so corrosive that it would eat away at the bolt and hole until it began to leak? Is there any particular reason why the manufacturers do not install drain plugs in the transmission pans? I realize that transmission filters and fluid are not changed as often as oil & oil filters, but how much more trouble would it have been for them to drill and tap a hole and put a plug into it? If I do decide to try this on my car, are there any special considerations that I should take into account? Hope you can give me some help with this dilemma.

Your question is one that I have pondered about myself. This job is so messy, that I almost refuse to do it. I would rather pay someone else that do it myself. To answer your question I phoned a friend of mine who just happens to be connected with an exotic import (I don't wish to mention what type of car it is, but it's fast, red and Italian). I am told that the reason is the same regardless of manufacturer. The reason is that it is MORE important to change the filter than the fluid. The manufacturers feel that if there is a drain plug, then only the fluid would be changed and not the internal filter. So to answer your question, yes you can install your own drain plug, just make sure that it seals and that there is clearance.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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