Tell That to The Porsche Cayenne's Automatic Gearbox

“Q:I recently purchased a 2008 Nissan 350Z. I allowed a friend of mine (from Australia) to drive it to the airport yesterday, and noticed that after stopping at a red light, he would start the car in second (instead of first) gear. He said this is better for the engine and would prevent first gear from wearing out. Is he correct? And if not, is this bad for my car?

Ray: Well, your friend certainly did teach you a valuable lesson: Don’t let any of your knucklehead friends drive your new car again!

Tom: Starting in second is not good for the engine. The engine is perfectly happy to start in first gear. In fact, starting in a higher gear under the wrong circumstances could cause you to “lug” the engine, which is bad for it.

Ray: But more important, starting in second is bad for your clutch. You need to use more gas and let the clutch out more slowly when starting in second. That wears out your clutch more quickly.”


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  • Argentla Argentla on Sep 29, 2008

    John Horner: Mercedes four-speed autos from the 80s typically started in second gear unless you floored the throttle; the same was true with Nissan's early Infiniti Q45. I've never driven a Q, but with at least some Mercedes, there was a kickdown button under the accelerator that would start in first if you put the throttle to the floor. Of course, automatics are a different story. They don't have a friction clutch to wear out by starting in a tall gear; the extra slippage heats up the oil in the torque converter instead. A lot depends on how much torque you have and how much torque you need when starting. If you're on a level surface and have a lot of low-end torque, you may well be able to start in second without slipping the clutch. With some of the more ridiculous torque-monster muscle cars of the late 60s (I'm thinking in particular of the COPO and Nickey 427 Camaros), you pretty much had to, at least with street tires, since there was so much torque to begin with that the added multiplication of first would just send the tires up in smoke.

  • Doctorv8 Doctorv8 on Sep 29, 2008
    but with at least some Mercedes, there was a kickdown button under the accelerator that would start in first if you put the throttle to the floor. Still is. All new Benzes have the kickdown switch, though now that trannies are computer controlled, you can put the car in "comfort" or "sport" modes, the latter of which starts the car in 1st gear, while "comfort" does not.

  • Hal Hal on Sep 29, 2008

    Start in First, Turn in Second, Stop in Third, Drive in Fourth.

  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Sep 29, 2008

    Sometimes 2nd gear is better in snow. Then again, perhaps I should use better tires. Often 1,3,4 is my shift pattern...

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