Q Here's a quick tip for driving Highway 17. Take the car out of overdrive! I started doing this years ago when I was driving to Santa Cruz regularly. It makes the drive much easier and safer.

Ted Stein

A You must tell me more.

Q My mechanic at Capitol Toyota made that suggestion after I had to have my brakes done with only 15,000 miles on the car. My wife had been driving to Santa Cruz four days a week and evidently had been riding the brakes down the hill.

With overdrive off, we both immediately noticed that we didn't brake as hard or as often. And not only did it save the brakes, it made for an easier, safer and less stressful drive over 17.

You get better acceleration going uphill. But more importantly, the car doesn't pick up speed going downhill nearly as fast. And since you don't have to ride the brakes as much, navigating the turns is much easier and smoother.

Ted Stein

A And ...

Q Using brakes all the way down the Grapevine on Interstate 5 or other mountain roads is a recipe for disaster. Downshifting saves brakes from burning up.

Paul Burnett

Alameda

A My auto experts agree with Ted and Paul. They say many cars with automatic transmissions have an overdrive option when the shifter is in the drive position. Pressing the switch turns overdrive off.


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With an automatic, the transmission will downshift itself when climbing grades. But it doesn't know to downshift when going down a hill, so it just lets gravity do its thing.

Q Is it OK to use cruise control in the city?

I use it all the time. I love it. My mom told me that it wasn't safe to use all the time. How is it unsafe? I don't have to look at the speedometer every 2 seconds, the cancel button is right there (I use it a lot), it saves money (better mileage). I am more focused, since I don't have to worry about how hard to push the pedal. I wouldn't use it in traffic or rain. I set it to the speed limit and hit cancel when I see something I am unsure of (kids, etc.).

Manuel F.

Sunnyvale

A There are no laws prohibiting this and Steve-the-AAA-Auto-Man says you make some good points:

"I personally wouldn't use it, but I think it is a matter of preference. It is a fact that driving your vehicle with consistent RPMs and at consistent speeds results in better miles per gallon, but the difference between doing it and not doing it in the city is probably negligible."

Q With so many people who have previously written you about being solo in the carpool lane, and not caring about the fine (?!?!?), does a carpool violation count as a strike on their DMV record?

Ann Hugger

Fremont

A No. The fine is around $491 for being a carpool cheater, but it is not a moving violation and therefore doesn't affect a violator's insurance cost.

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