What Does Overdrive Do in a Car?

December 4, 2023

Overdrive is a feature that’s found on automatic transmission vehicles. It is a gear that helps to reduce engine RPM’s at highway speeds so that fuel efficiency is improved and noise and wear are reduced. Generally speaking, it is best to leave overdrive on as you will be saving gas and lessening strain on your engine.

However, there are situations where you may want to disengage overdrive, such as if you anticipate needing to accelerate quickly to pass another vehicle or when driving up or down steep hills. When you disable overdrive, the transmission will shift to a lower gear for better traction and performance.

The overdrive switch is commonly located on the shifter lever in your car. You can press the button or switch to turn it on and off as desired. It functions as a high gear mode for the transmission and can be looked at as an added gear that widens out the transmission’s shifting range when the powertrain is cruising at high road speeds.

Overdrive is one of those things that we take for granted. It’s something we don’t really think about, but it has helped to improve the driving experience and fuel economy for millions of cars over the years. Whether or not you choose to use overdrive, it is a great feature that’s worth the small amount of extra cost to have. As long as you keep it in good working condition, you’ll be rewarded with better fuel economy and quieter driving.


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