Q: Is it mechanically safe to coast in neutral?

asked by on February 13, 2017

Will it damage the transmission/engine to re-engage into Drive from Neutral when the car is in motion? or into Neutral from Drive mode? Does coasting in Neutral saves gas? similarly will it help the transmission/engine when the car is in Neutral instead of Drive while stopping (at signals etc).

Is it better to stop the engine when waiting on signals or should we keep the engine running? When is it advisable to shut the engine (say waiting for more than 30 seconds/45 or more than that). Will frequent start and stop hurt the engine/ starter more than it would save the gas or prevent engine wear and tear.


Technically, least cost operation is attained if engine idling (at stops) does not exceed 60 seconds and, indeed, some studies put the threshold as low as 10 seconds. Certainly 60 seconds is a conservative estimate. This is why "start-stop" features on modern engines have become popular; "start-stop" saves money. As a practical, and most importantly safety matter though, unless your vehicle came equipped from the factory with start-stop technology, do NOT turn your vehicle off at intersections because that practice will substantially increase the risk of a collision and has the potential to impede traffic flow as you attempt to mimic the operation of what is ordinarily seamless start-stop technology. In all other settings, though, as noted if your vehicle is sitting idle for as little as 10 seconds you will save money turning the vehicle engine off. As far as shifting from drive to neutral and back again, although there is no damaging effect in an automatic transmission, such a practice is NOT recommended, again due to the safety hazard such a practice creates. During these periods when the transmission is in neutral, you have no ability to accelerate the car, if it becomes necessary to avoid a collision. You also loose all engine braking, there is no appreciable gas savings, and the manual shifting becomes a driver distraction. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

What can I do to help my 2009 Audi S5 get better gas mileage?

Often times, owners have unrealistic expectations for their vehicles when it comes to fuel mileage. This is because the EPA estimated fuel mileage rating give to a vehicle doesn't stand up to real-world driving conditions. That being said, there are...

Bad gas mileage

Hi there. The fuel mileage is never great in this car, but this is rather low. Most of the time if it is running fine and has recently dropped off it is because or a dirty air filter or a...

How do I manually adjust the seats?

If your car has manually adjusting seats, follow these easy steps for moving the seat forward or backward. Pull the handle of the manual adjustment, which is located below your seat, at the front. Scoot your seat forward or...

How do I arm and disarm the immobilizer?

The immobilizer is a key safety feature that helps keep your vehicle from being stolen. The immobilizer makes it so that your vehicle cannot be started unless a key is in the ignition. You cannot manually arm or disarm the...

What is the recommended tire inflation pressure?

It is very important to always have your tires properly inflated. The proper tire inflation pressure is located on the Safety Compliance Certification Label or the Tire label, which are on the B-Pillar, near the door latch, or on the...

What kind of oil should I use?

You should use SAE 5W-20 engine oil.

Fuel gauge and tank not holding enough

The most common problem is the fuel pump sending unit is bad in the fuel tank. The fuel gauge may also be bad in the dash. The best and quickest way to test the gauge is to disconnect the connection...

How do I disarm the theft-alarm system?

The theft-alarm system will be automatically disarmed whenever you unlock the vehicle.

How do I change the trip meter item to display?

The multi-information display will show you the average fuel economy, as well as another trip meter item. To choose which item you would like displayed alongside average fuel economy, follow these steps: 1. Turn the ignition to On, while making...

Related articles

How Long Does an Intake Manifold Runner Control Last?
Having Having the right air and fuel mixture in a car’s engine is the only way for it to run at peak performance. Older vehicles really had no way to control the flow of air that came into their engine....
Is it Safe to Drive With the TPMS Light On?
Low tire pressure activates the TPMS light, which can contribute to premature tire wear and tire failure.
How to Become a Race Car Driver
It It goes without saying that race cars are a lot of fun. Anyone who enjoys cars and driving is bound to love race cars; they accelerate and brake faster than normal cars, handle far better, and are driven on...