What does the neutral gear do in an automatic transmission car?


The N or neutral gear in an automatic transmission helps cut off power to the wheels while allowing the driver to control the steering, hence saving lives during emergencies such as brake failures.

In this article by NaijaCarNews.com, we are going to look at what the neutral gear “N” in automatic vehicles does and how it actually works.

It is not new that automatic transmission cars are a lot easier to drive than manual transmission cars. Despite that, a lot of drivers still do not know for sure the use of neutral gear in automatic transmission cars.

The N or Neutral gear of an automatic transmission car is so important that if used correctly in some emergency situations could save lives.

1. Functions of neutral gear in automatic transmission car

The N or Neutral gear functions to cut off power flow from the engine to the wheels. This disconnection in power is felt when you press down on the accelerator. Rather than the usual power response you get from your car accelerator pedal, you get a non responsive power cut.


When the gear is in neutral, it cut the power off from transmitting to the wheels

The neutral gear also allows the wheels to rotate freely without drawing any power from the car engine while at the same time giving you total control of the steering and wheels.

Shifting to the neutral gear in an automatic transmission will not only cut off power flow between the engine and the wheels but can also prove very helpful in some critical real life situations.

2. When to engage the Neutral gear

Engaging the neutral gear in the following critical situation can save both time, and lives of the driver and other occupants of his vehicle.

  • Use Neutral gear to stop a car with a stuck throttle

While this might sound like something that happens only in movies, it is a real life critical situation that could happen to just anybody. It is important to know what to do and when to do it as that can save both the driver and the car from serious injuries and damages.


The belief of saving fuel in neutral mode is only a myth

Imagine a scenario of losing control of your car due to a stuck throttle while at top speed on a high way. Quite scary a situation that is. But the truth is that applying your brakes while the throttle is stuck might not bring your car to a successful stop.

The best approach is to gently shift from the DRIVE gear to Neutral. Doing this will automatically cut off power supply from the engine to the wheels and also render the throttle powerless. Doing this will also allow you to successfully control your steering during which you can start applying your brakes which will eventually bring the car to a successful stop.

Note that turning off the engine is not a safe solution at all as doing that will cut off power to the steering making it impossible to neither control the steering nor stop the car without any damage.

>>> You may also checkout: What to do if you're involved in a car accident?

  • Successful stop during a brake failure

Several cases of brake failures end up in total wreckage due to inexperience or due to lack of information on the part of the driver on the best thing to do when the brakes fail.

Most inexperienced or uninformed drivers respond to brake failures by trying to turn off their ignition. While this might sound like a sensible thing to do, it is equally the wrong thing to do as well.


Neutral gears can save lives in criticial situation on roads

As already mentioned earlier, turning off the engine will cut off power to the steering wheel making it impossible to neither control the steering nor stop the car without any damage.

Also, turning off the engine when the brakes fail at top speed can even lock up the wheel mechanism making the situation a more dangerous one.

The only safe and recommended solution is to gently shift to the neutral gear which will allow you to maneuver the steering and wheels while bringing the car to a less eventful stop.

  • To tow a car

The use of neutral gear is not limited to stopping vehicles in emergencies. It can also be used to tow a car in the absence of a proper towing dolly. If for any reason you need to tow an automatic transmission car, the best gear to use for this is the Neutral gear. Most towing truck businesses in Nigeria don’t have the ideal tow dolly for towing vehicles, so shifting your vehicle to the neutral gear before towing will keep the engine on while ensuring that transmission damage is minimal.


The neutral gear helps diminish the transmission damage to the least when the car is being towed

3. Frequently asked questions about neutral gear

Below are some frequently asked questions about making use of the neutral gear. NaijaCarNews.com has taken time to answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about use of neutral gear in driving.

  • Are there any disadvantages of using the neutral gear?

The major disadvantage of using the neutral gear is that it offers less control over the car. In order to be prepared for any emergencies, you can actually practice applying the neutral gear just as you would in an emergency situation.

  • Does shifting to the neutral gear save fuel?

Not really, the belief that shifting to neutral gear will improve fuel economy is nothing short of a car myth.  Even with the neutral gear engaged, the engine is still running and would consume same amount of petrol as in the idle state.

Video: Should I shift to Neutral at Stoplights?

  • Is engaging the neutral gear while driving dangerous?

Truth is driving with the neutral gear in a automatic transmission car could be quite dangerous. Shifting to neutral gear while driving especially at top speed should not be made a routine driving habit as that could hold some dare consequences for both the car and the driver such as cutting down wheel functions and leading to accidents.

>>> Highly recommended for your own safety:


    Latest Driving Tips

    People have just commented on