‘Does shifting into neutral at red lights save gas?’

The Car Doc weighs in.

The shifter inside of a Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The shifter inside of a Volkswagen Golf GTI. –Boldride

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Q. Does it save gas or wear if I shift my automatic into neutral at red lights? It seems like there would be a fuel saving.

A. You are correct in your thinking that when stopped, your car is getting zero miles per gallon, but my experience is that any gas savings are offset by the additional wear of moving the shifter.  A better solution to save fuel when stopped is shutting off the engine. This only is applicable when it looks like you’ll be stopped for a couple of minutes — not at traffic lights. This is why many new cars today have an automatic shut-off feature. And, of course, the best fuel savings come from how you drive. Going easy on the gas and brakes will always help to maximize fuel economy.


John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.