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Use your car’s gears correctly

To avoid ruining the engine’s lifespan, know when to change gears in your car.

Imagine driving your car with a manual transmission without shifting the gears properly.

It would be unnecessarily severe on your car’s engine and gearbox because you would be lugging (when driving in a higher gear than you need to be in and the engine is turning low RPMs) it in a lower gear or constantly revving the engine.

That also applies to cars with automatic gearboxes and poorly selected gear ratios.

What are gear ratios?

Gear ratios refer to the relationship between the number of teeth on two meshing gears. The ratio between the engine’s rotational speed and the vehicle‘s wheels alters when a driver shifts gears.

The gear ratio determines the amount of torque the engine sends to the wheels is determined. A lower gear ratio delivers more torque, which is advantageous when starting from a stop or ascending hills. Less torque comes with a larger gear ratio, which helps you sustain faster speeds on level ground.

How do gear ratios work?

Visualising two gears meshing together can help explain how gear ratios operate. Consider a smaller 10-tooth gear meshing with a larger 20-tooth gear.

The larger gear will only spin by half a turn if the smaller gear turns once, indicating a 1:2 or 0.5 gear ratio between the two gears. The larger gear revolves by half a turn for each rotation of the smaller gear.

A gearbox usually has multiple gears one can engage to produce a variety of gear ratios. Essentially, shifting gears modifies the gear ratio between the engine and the wheels. Less torque is produced by the wheels turning quicker than the engine when the gear ratio is higher.

Consider this scenario: You are driving a car with a manual gearbox in third gear, and your speed is 30km/h. The engine will rev higher when you downshift to second gear, but the wheels will revolve more slowly, giving you more power for acceleration. By shifting up to fourth gear, you can sustain a higher speed with less strain on the engine because the wheels will turn faster and the engine rev lower.

Why are gear ratios important?

Gear ratios greatly influence a vehicle’s efficiency and performance and are significant for these primary reasons:

Power and torque: The power and torque produced by a gear ratio vary. For instance, a higher gear ratio will result in less torque but better fuel economy, whereas a lower gear ratio will bring torque and better acceleration.

You may maximise the power and torque of your car to suit your driving requirements by choosing the appropriate gear ratios for it.

Fuel efficiency: Using the proper gear ratios can also increase fuel efficiency. The engine might waste petrol and experience more wear and tear if it operates at an excessive speed for the road conditions. Selecting a higher gear ratio can improve fuel efficiency and decrease engine speed.

Engine longevity: Choosing the appropriate gear ratios will help extend the engine’s life and improve fuel efficiency. You can extend the engine’s life and lessen its wear and tear by keeping the engine speed in the advised range.

Towing and hauling: Choosing the appropriate gear ratios is crucial when pulling a trailer or transporting large objects. While a higher gear ratio might result in the engine struggling and lowering overall performance, a lower gear ratio will offer more torque and a better towing capacity.

Driving conditions: The correct gear ratios will also help your car run better under various driving circumstances. For instance, a lower gear ratio is preferable for off-roading or driving up steep hills. For highway travel, a higher gear ratio is preferable.

Choosing the correct gear ratio

Several criteria, such as the vehicle’s weight, engine power, and intended use, must be considered when selecting the appropriate gear ratio. To choose the correct gear ratios, consider these factors:

Determine your needs: Identifying your driving needs is the first step to choosing the appropriate gear ratio.

Improved off-road performance, towing capacity, fuel efficiency, or acceleration are the things you are after. You can select gear ratios that satisfy your needs when you have determined what they are.

Consult the car’s handbook: You might find information on the ideal gear ratios for various driving situations in your car’s handbook. Refer to the manual to ensure you choose the correct gear ratios for your car.

Think about the car’s weight and engine power: When selecting gear ratios, you must consider the vehicle’s weight and engine power. Higher gear ratios might be necessary to prevent over-revving in engines with greater power whereas heavier vehicles might need lower gear ratios to deliver sufficient power.

Examine your driving style: Always consider your driving style when choosing gear ratios. Which would you rather drive – a smoother, more fuel-efficient drive or forceful acceleration? Lower gear ratios can provide more torque and acceleration if you are an aggressive driver.

Seek professional advice: It is a good idea to see a mechanic or automobile specialist if you are unsure what gear ratios you should use. They can help you select gear ratios that suit your driving style and car.

• Information from Tier One Transmission

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