Many questions on if we should shift to neutral when at stop lights. But I've developed a habit to shift to neutral when going downhill or far away approaching a stop light to avoid unnecessary speed-ups/breakings. I feel there will be less stress generally on car so I shift to neutral as much as possible.

Is it harmful by any means?

I've heard shifting itself causes wears and harms to gears. I have a Toyota Corolla 2013 if that makes a difference.

  • 1
    On modern cars this is likely to use more fuel. Closed throttle with some revs the injectors are probably not being triggered (so no fuel used), while in neutral the engine is using fuel to maintain the idle speed
    – Kickstart
    Aug 23, 2019 at 7:57
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    The short answer is "NO", since you have an auto transmission. Also going into neutral while driving downhill is downright dangerous!
    – abhi
    Aug 23, 2019 at 13:36
  • i flagged this question as off-topic. Perhaps you want to come into the chat and discuss your question there?
    – Martin
    Aug 23, 2019 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


This is a driving technique question that will end up closed.

Using engine braking when going downhill reduces the load on the brakes and as some have found brake fade can be an issue.

Slowing down for lights from a distance is good driving practice - it’s called anticipation, but not sure about your “unnecessary speed ups” - controlling the accelerator is an important driving skill.

  • There will be no brakes. I mean when approaching the stoplight from distance, instead of accelerate and then brake, I try to coast on neutral.
    – Tina J
    Aug 23, 2019 at 13:54

Most modern fuel injection engines use no fuel when in gear but off the gas, as the momentum of the car will keep the pistons moving, so you're actually using more gas than you need to if you're in neutral.

Being in gear also utilises engine braking. When going down a hill, being in a low gear, say 2nd or 3rd for a manual but works with automatics too, depending on the slope, will naturally stop the car from picking up too much speed, meaning you don't need to use your brakes constantly, saving on wear.

Being in gear also means you don't need to first put it into gear if you need to react to something, like a skid you need to correct. So it's safer from that perspective.

  • I mean a short downhill that will have no brakes, but eventually have to accelerate. But doesn't shifting a lot when driving cause any wears or harms to gears?
    – Tina J
    Aug 23, 2019 at 13:58
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    Gearboxes are designed to last at least 15-20 years of normal driving, in practise they last much longer. Unless you're crunching, slamming it into gear, or putting it into reverse when not fully stationary, all on a regular basis, you won't do any significant damage.
    – MKHC
    Aug 23, 2019 at 14:36

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