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What Exactly Is "Overdrive" in Your Vehicle?

transmission

The term “overdrive” is one you are most likely familiar with. What is overdrive though, really, and why is it important? Alvie's Transmission Service Unlimited in Jacksonville, FL has the answer.

Phrases like “kick it into overdrive” sort of confuse the meaning of the word as it relates to vehicles. When we think of the word overdrive, we typically think of working harder, and the word itself kind of insinuates that. However, an overdrive in a vehicle’s transmission is actually the opposite.

The overdrive gear in an automatic or manual transmission is defined by the same principles. Each gear in your transmission provides a different gear ratio, allowing your car, truck, or SUV to efficiently utilize engine RPM for both speed and power. The final gear before overdrive is a 1:1 ratio, meaning the transmission and driveline are turning the same speed as the engine, and power loss from gear reduction and friction is minimized. When your vehicle is kicked into overdrive, it’s now taking it easy; the gear ratio is actually now 1 to less than one, for example 1:.70. This means is the transmission and drivetrain are actually turning faster than the engine RPM. You have less power at your disposal for acceleration or towing in overdrive, but the vehicle will cruise down the road at high speeds and low RPM.

Overdrive is a function we take for granted these days. If you remember cars from the 1970s and earlier, you likely remember noisy engines that cruised at high RPM and wasted a lot of fuel. The overdrive gear reduces cruising RPM, which in turn lessens engine noise, reduces fuel consumption, and decreases engine wear and tear. Certainly, it is one of the unsung heroes of the modern automobile.

On some transmissions, overdrive is disabled when there is a problem with the engine or transmission. If this happens to your vehicle, be sure to have it inspected immediately, to reduce the risk of engine or transmission damage.

For all your transmission maintenance and repair needs, look no further than Alvie's Transmission Service Unlimited. Our professional mechanics have the equipment and ability necessary to keep your car, truck, or SUV cruising and shifting smoothly, for years and years to come. For the best transmission service shop in Jacksonville, FL, call or come by any time.



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Alvie's Transmission Service Unlimited

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Jacksonville, FL 32208

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