What is it called when your auto transmission shifts down

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by kgruber, Jan 9, 2021 at 11:09 AM.

  1. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    What is it called when your auto transmission shifts down from high gear into a slightly lower high gear...........................but not down to 3rd.

    I would like a switch to push to keep it in that slight shift down. Often on a hill it will go to that slight shift down and I will just place it in 3rd to keep it from "hunting."

    This happens on all my auto transmission cars, regardless of make. I WANT THE PUSH BUTTON!!!
     
  2. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Engine braking?
     
  3. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    It's called a "downshift" but I think what you're really looking for is a manual mode. Most modern cars have that these days. What year/make/model cars do you own?
     
  4. Jim K

    Jim K Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Well, it's called, unsurprisingly, a downshift. What you are after is engine braking as Ryan said. Most cars have a position that locks out the higher gears, although modern cars with 8-9 speeds and engine start- stop may not, I'm not sure. My wife's hybrid has a "L" position for this. My next newest vehicle is from 2001, so I'm a bit out of date.
     
  5. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Instead of D leave it in one number lower, like '4' or '3' .. some cars also have a button you press to keep it out of overdrive.. the goal of these was to prevent what you might be describing, "gear hunting" typically driving up an extended uphill at highway speeds or towing something

    In the FJ I drop it to 4 from D.. but it's only happens when I am in cruise control as it seems to overcompensate, when driving manually I've never had it gear hunt

    I've never encountered this on most modern cars, seems modern transmission are smart enough to figure this out
     
  6. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    With 10-12 speed traditional slush boxes and CVTs becoming the norm, you’ll barely notice the constant annoying gear changes after a while. LOL

    What you may be describing is the vehicle unlocking the torque converter and doing prep for a shift it never completes.

    There’s a bunch of wonky computer programmed silliness in many types to (ostensibly) save fuel and such.

    Makes it difficult to know when it’s working properly. Maybe it’s just badly programmed, maybe it’s not shifting right. How you know, is beyond me without analyzing it with another computer.
     
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  7. PilotThumper

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    What vehicles are you working with? I have done this for a few older vehicles.
    Can be done electronically but if it is all mechanical you would either need to manually select the gear you wish (if possible as some you may not be able to select) or there are thing you can do internally on the transmission that will prevent the downshift.
    The downside of doing anything internally is that you will also see gears being held for longer in other situations.

    However, if this is purely for going slow down hills I will make the comment that your brakes are far cheaper than a transmission rebuild or the wear and tear on the motor.
     
  8. Jeff Oslick

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    As mentioned above, most auto-trans cars also have a selector to allow some degree of manual shift, though the computer can still override what you select to prevent transmission damage.

    Depending on the make/model, and if you are out of warranty or care if your warranty might be invalidated, there are reprogramming options sometimes available for the engine and/or transmission. These require a reflash of the car's computer, and the dealer can tell that you did it, but it is fairly easy to do. The catch is finding a reputable program provider who isn't going to break your car in the short or long term. Just a minor reprogramming of shift points usually won't result in anything worse than slightly reduced gas mileage.
     
  9. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Kick down. You need to give more info on what you are driving, but like anything else, it's out there, you just have to pay for it. Tranny shops will install something for you if you want to pay, and pay you will.
     
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  10. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    Are pretty "old" school.
    2007 Suzuki SX-4
    2004 Suburban
     
  11. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Like anything else though, if it's hunting the answer is "more horsepower".
     
  12. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Save your money. You found the best solution, just move the shift lever.
     
  13. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Given the age of the vehicles, like @denverpilot , my money is the slight downshift you feel is the torque converter unlocking when more power is demanded. It raises the revs some and gets a little more torque amplification out of the TC.
     
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  14. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Don’t forget there’s just bad designs too.

    The slush box in my Yukon was plenty good for about 150K miles but was also known to have an underpowered servo for downshifts and the automotive community quickly learned when rebuilding them to use the servo from the Corvette that fit right into the same position as the wimpy one.

    Chevy used the wimpy one for a squishier shift so mom and the kids weren’t jostled around in the family truckster by it... shifting like a truck. Go figure.

    Wasn’t technically a “bad” design but after squish box mods to make suburban housewives happy, it wasn’t suitable for harder work like heavy towing anymore without knowingly going into that with “it’ll need replaced at 150K miles” planning. No biggie. It was also a CHEAP trans to replace. $2K tops and you’re rolling again for another 150K or more if your rebuild shop changed it all back to a proper pickup truck configuration.

    In other words, the requests for specific make/model/trans and model Year are important. Because people with more time and some larger vested interest or just natural mechanical curiosity have probably already figured it out.

    Which is what led to Subaru extending the warranty on my current CVT out from 35K to 100K across many many model years. Nobody trusts the things.

    But if you’ll say you’ll replace it when it barfs, fine. LOL...

    With most companies now saying they treat the trans as a replaceable unit and even dealers are told not to troubleshoot or rebuild them, just swap it... I pretty much think you’re best off just driving normally and ignoring whatever it’s doing.

    It’s impossible to figure out what’s in some egghead at a desk’s brain when they programmed it. And they’re as likely to have programmed it correctly as have written a bug or ten into that code. Ha. Seriously. The order of the day is “oh yeah there’s a TSB around here somewhere where we were supposed to re-Flash the firmware in six on board computers but we didn’t bother... let me go find that and waste your time to fix our bugs, and charge you for it.”

    LOL LOL LOL.
     
  15. SoonerAviator

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    That's my guess as well. The torque converter unlocking is what generally happens for a bit prior to the downshift command. The only way to really adjust that manually in modern vehicles is with a programmer/custom tuner.
     
  16. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Ah yes, my father's suburban did the same.. just drop it into one gear lower from D and it should stay there, albeit at a higher RPM
     
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  17. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Yup. And the ever so questionable “Tow/Haul Mode” button. LOL

    A friend offered to reprogram mine, he’s done tons of them. I said nah... I don’t tow that often.
     
  18. PilotThumper

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    The Suzuki I would be reluctant to do anything with as they are know to have transmission issues so playing around with that would be asking for problems.
    For the Suburban you can get a different TCM for it as well as have it rebuilt with some different internals. I would highly recommend doing both together as it often happens customers will get things reprogramed on an older unit and then the unit can not take the extra load and gives up the ghost.

    Best thing to do it bring the vehicles into a shop that you trust and ask some opinions.
     
  19. G-force

    G-force Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sounds like your talking about the torque converter locking and unlocking? Its not shifting down a gear, it is just the two halfs of the converter unlocking and slipping a bit between themselves. If the trans is old enough tech I suppose they may be a way to put a switch to manually lock/unlock they converter. But the point of the locking converter is it creates less heat and is more effecient when locked. I dont think they are designed to run unlocked for long periods of time. In my '03 tundra 4 speed, when 4th gear unlocks onsay a long uphilll, the computer will only let it stay there for 10-15 seconds before it either relocks it, or downshifts to 3rd.
     
  20. RudyP

    RudyP Line Up and Wait

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    One of many reasons to avoid automatics like the plague...

    Actually, I’d rather have Covid than an automatic.
     
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  21. 455 Bravo Uniform

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    Does the Suburban have a “Tow Mode” button in the end of the shift lever? There’s the button you’re looking for.
     
  22. chartbundle

    chartbundle Pattern Altitude

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    My slightly newer truck has 3 ways: 1. tap the brakes lightly and it will usually downshift. 2. Tow/Haul which will make it more aggressively automatically downshift and alters the turbo settings slightly to improve engine braking. 3. M to set the max gear with buttons to adjust. Between all of those when I'm not hauling I rarely need the brakes.
     
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  23. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    I've used the lower gears in my automatics for years without any transmission problems. If they can't take that, they weren't worth owning in the first place. And I spent many years driving thorugh the Rockies, where serious hills are the norm, and using the brakes on long downgrades accomplishes two things: it burns out the brakes and discs, and leaves you with extremely hot brakes at the bottom of the hill that won't stop you quick no matter how hard you push. The heat also doesn't do the bearing lubrication and seals any good.

    I've always been amazed at the number of brake lights on when following a line of traffic down a long downgrade. What do those drivers think the other positions on the shifter are for? The stink at the bottom of the hill can be awesome, too.
     
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  24. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    ..does this actually put any unusual load on the transmission and engine? The gears are still feeling a positive load, whether that load is making the car go faster or helping it slow down the teeth are still pressing on each other.. either way there's 100 ftlbs torque (or whatever) going through the machinery. I'd also venture that the cylinder pressures are far lower when downshifting vs accelerating.. you're strictly compressing air at that point vs having a strong combustion drive the piston down and car forward.

    YES! I assumed that it was common knowledge to stay in a lower gear for getting down hills vs riding your brakes so you don't burn them up
     
  25. Brad W

    Brad W Line Up and Wait

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    one thing I've enjoyed about driving my electric E-Tron is the constant acceleration rate all the way up....no shifting at all. It's a subtle thing I never would have thought would be worth noting, but there's something just nice about that.
     
  26. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    Same here, although this advice was given to me many years ago by my stepfather, who was not the most mechanical person in the world, to put it mildly.

    But I thought the OP was talking about talking about the car downshifting when trying to maintain speed going uphill. Almost all the cars I have driven have done this, especially when on cruise control.
     
  27. Dan Thomas

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    You're right. He hated the thing shifting back and forth on an upgrade. Are there cars now where you don't have manual-shift option?
     
  28. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    I don't know. Mine does and it's a 2012 Forester. I've never tried the manual mode when using cruise control, though. Actually, I've never used it on an upgrade either, only on those long downhills.
     
  29. ktup-flyer

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    Take it to a tuner and have them change the shift points. Easy to do.
     
  30. denverpilot

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    Subaru disables cruise control in manual shift mode.*

    *Caveat: Assuming EyeSight is on. There’s another “regular” cruise mode that’s a pain to turn on that disables Eyesight that MIGHT allow for manual shifting but I doubt it. The manual doesn’t go to that level of detail and I’ve only ever forced the non Eyesight cruise mode once.
     
  31. Everskyward

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    Pretty sure the Forester is too old for EyeSight. It's blind...
     
  32. denverpilot

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    Ahh right. You’re even before the CVT debacle. Haha.

    The ‘17 clearly is designed by people who don’t want anyone actually driving it. Whatever it wants to do you just sit there and let it. It’ll be fine. Hahaha.

    You probably saw my photos elsewheee but for those here, the dealership also saw this vehicle three times in the last 4000-5000 miles and marked the battery “good” on the checklist every time.

    Tech left the red rubber boot off the positive post and I had been noticing hard starts...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    They tossed in a handful of free oil changes with the purchase to do the usual try at getting you to use the servi e dept. So I let ‘em try. They didn’t manage to get a single visit right... solidifying my eternal hatred of dealerships. Ha.

    Should be noted that’s the original factory battery in it and they’re well known for being garbage, so any tech servicing a ‘17 or older should have been recommending replacement anyway. It’s a whopping 350 CCA piece of utter garbage.

    Most sources say many dealers avoid pointing out leaks or other problems because Subaru of N America makes them replace them and the dealer eats most of the cost.

    That thing has been leaking around that post for years probably. Trash before it was ever installed the first time.
     
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  33. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That'll do it.
     
  34. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Modern cars have hill descent control that will downshift downhill.

    Edit: Now that I mention it, modern cars also have ascent control as well that is supposed to prevent all that gear hunting. Old cars only sensed the load when trying to decide whether to downshift, hence the gear hunt. New cars now take into account the incline via an electronic attitude indicator.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021 at 4:25 PM
  35. wayne

    wayne Pattern Altitude

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    You still call it a sissy stick.

    [​IMG]



    Sent from my SM-G781U using Tapatalk
     
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  36. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller Final Approach

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    Me three. -Skip
     
  37. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    I think the computers way overcompensate, and the car ends up "undulating" ..
     
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  38. kgruber

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    That's why I just want a button to keep it in "shiftdown."

    Also, I use Walmart for all my oil changes. "Pitstop" service $19.95. Even on my Suzuki....................where I have lifetime free oil changes
     
  39. denverpilot

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    Very few cars have descent control. Usually seen in SUV and “off-road” vehicles including the fake bubble SUVs (I guess you could call those cars, since they’re not trucks or built to be off road really...)... and vehicles used for serious towing.

    Hill hold (brakes held until you push on the accelerator) is becoming fairly common. And various “we don’t describe exactly what it does, but push rigs button if you’re already in the ditch from your bad driving decisions...”. Heh.

    But hill descent Control isn’t all that common in standard “cars”... yet.

    This Subaru has the ever so descriptive mystery button “X-Mode”! LOL. All actual mild off roading videos show it farting around with brakes to “lock” differentials which ends up being useless because the CVT overheats and shuts the fuel off. Ha.
     
  40. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Yeah that line is getting awfully blurry these days, isn't it?