What is the Overdrive Button for on an Automatic Transmission?

If you have a vehicle with an automatic gear shift you may have noticed there is a little button on the shift itself. Pressing that button will turn off the vehicle’s overdrive mechanism. Almost all drivers choose to go with the automatic transmission because it is easier than a manual transmission. There really is no other reason on earth not to get a manual transmission since vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions tend to be slightly more expensive. This price differential only makes sense because an automatic transmission system must contain parts that manual transmissions do not. It always cost more to have a machine do things for you that you are perfectly capable of doing yourself. The automatic transmission makes up for its higher price by allowing you to use the hand you are not steering with for other things like drinking, eating, talking on the cell phone, turning up the radio, or squeezing the thigh of your significant other sitting next to you.

When the overdrive button on an automatic gear shift is not depressed, or in the on position, which it where it should be 99% of the time, it is saving you money in gas by lowering the revolutions per minute (RPM) of your engine. Because the transmission is essentially in full control of deciding the optimal gear the car should be in during any particularly everyday kind of driving condition, the overdrive button acts to save on wear and tear in the gear system, which will also save you money. So that does mean you should never turn the overdrive off on an automatic transmission?

Of course not, although the average driver a car or van will rare need to do so and even very few drivers who were suckered into buying an SUV will ever need to do so. Turning off the overdrive button on an automatic gear shift serves to increase the engine’s torque and increases the efficiency of the vehicle when you are either climbing a steep hill or towing something. The only thing is that even if you have an overdrive button to disengage, you could probably accomplish what turning it off will accomplish when climbing a steep grade by shifting to another gear. In reality, the only time you should ever press your overdrive button in on an automatic vehicle is if you are towing something. An added benefit is that it will also help alleviate the damage caused by the increase heat that accompanies towing.