Friday, April 4, 2008

5th Gear in Traffic? Ridiculous

by Stoneman

According to the geniuses at Transport Canada, they suggest you shift into 5th gear when going even as slow as 50/60 km/hour. I don't know about you, but in my Subaru Impreza 5th gear is rather a highway cruising gear. I call it the gear of cruising and last resort. It's the gear you don't use when driving in the city or you have the need to pass on the highway.

I did try driving my Scooby in 5th gear a few months ago. Allow me to try and describe how it felt. It was like driving a bogged down car that had almost no acceleration potential. You put your foot to the floor, the car bogs down.........nothing happens. It chugs a little as the engine tries in vain to speed up the AWD drive train, but in effect you are going nowhere. It's sort of the same experience I had when driving the 2007 V6 Hyundai Tiburon and 2007 Accent. Both such pathetic cars that immediately after exiting the car you went to your own and kissed it.

Fifth (or even sixth gear in some cars) is an over-drive gear. It's used to give you better fuel economy on highway drives by lowering the amount of revolutions at highway speed. I can take fourth gear up to the redline in my car (110 mph?). 5th gear will take me up to 120, but at that speed I believe the engine speed cutoff switch engages. Not that I ever drive that fast - hardly.

I find myself mainly using 2nd gear to get right up to 70 km/hour. 3rd gear will easily take me to 110+ km/hour. The only bad thing is the extremely loud drive train. I actually enjoy the AWD drive train whine, but some people who are very old or fussy may not want to hear this action going on. And speaking of ridiculous, Hyundai has the 3-door Accent commercials on lately that feature two guys in a highrise car park. His friend asks if he could take his accent out for a spin. The man answers by throwing his keys over the ledge and replying "Ummmmmm I can't find my car keys".

If I owned a Hyundai Accent I'd be reluctant to keep the keys around anyway. Although the build quality of Hyundai has increased steadily in the past few years, nothing short of a direct threat of death would get me to select a Hyundai Accent as a daily driver. Now that I think about it, Waterboarding appeals more to me than the Accent. But I guess every car has it's niche crowd - just don't expect me to fall inline with this type of vehicle ever. I'd rather walk than drive a Hyundai Accent.

I've noticed lately that gear changes usually require a bit of finesse if I want to use the clutch in a gentle manner. Meaning: I am not 'forcing' the gear and the change is made at a leisurely pace. Taking up the car to redline and then shifting is a sure way to wear your clutch out in no time. Those clutches cost about 200 dollars plus the cost of the throwout bearing and machining of the flywheel.


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