Start in 2nd gear?

Discussion in 'Hyundai' started by Smile-n-Nod, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. Smile-n-Nod

    Smile-n-Nod Well-Known Member

    On my '13 Elantra (with auto-transmission), I noticed that the sport shift allows me to shift to 2nd gear even while the car is stopped. Is there any problem with starting to accelerate while in 2nd gear, or is it better to start in 1st?
  2. nighthawk

    nighthawk Well-Known Member

    I would have to guess it's more effecient to start in 1st gear. The 2nd gear start would be good for slippery conditions.
  3. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Depends on the gear ratios. On my manual Civic I regularly start in 2nd on level or downhill starts. For uphill starts I use first for half a second (literally) then drop into 2nd. There's a risk with a manual - you have to slip the clutch more, causing more wear. I don't imagine there's much problem with an automatic since it uses a fluid coupling torque converter.
  4. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    The only time I will start out in 2 is in very cold weather, when the initial 1-2 upshift is delayed and has a pronounced lurch. It's normal for the car (emission compliance), but starting in 2 and then moving back to D above 10mph eliminates it.

    First gear is there for a reason, so the car will use it when the lever is in Drive. Second gear is a bit taller than first gear in most 4ATs. Starting out in 2nd means relying on torque multiplication from the converter, and that is less efficient (just ask anyone who owned or drove an old Dynaflow).

    Modern six speed automatics use a first gear that is extremely short along with torque converter that it's "tighter" (less slippage, but less torque multiplication at stall), and the overall design is far more efficient. The idea isn't new. The Hydramatic (1939-1964) used a simple fluid coupling instead of a converter, and so had a very low first gear to provide the torque mulitplication missing from the coupling. For its time, the Hydramatic was generally credited as being the most efficient of the popular automatics of the era.
  5. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Your Elantra has 4.40 x 3.065 = 13.486 first gear ratio.
    2nd gear is 2.726 x 3.065 = 8.355.

    My Civic has 3.250 x 4.058 = 13.1885 first gear ratio.
    2nd gear is 1.762 x 4.058 = 7.15.

    Our first gears are nearly the same, but your 2nd is shorter than mine. That means more engine rpm / gearing reduction. You're better off than I am on that front.

    Of course, I don't know how well this works on the automatic, so listen to Maxx.
  6. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    The 4.4:1 first gear allows the use of a smaller/thinner torque converter. It is designed to have less torque multiplication at stall, and a "hook up" with minimal slippage at lower rpm. Less slippage means less heat buildup, meaning less engine effort is wasted as heat and more gets to the drive wheels.

    The gearing of the Hyundai 6AT is close to that of many 5AT designs, but with that extra short first gear. At light throttle, the car is already in second gear by 10-15mph, much like the early 1-2 upshift in the old Hydramatics of the 1940s-1950s. It's just there to get the car moving with the greater efficiency of gear reduction instead of fluid inertia.

    There is no downside to the granny-low first gear unless the pedal is floored to get the car moving. A taller first gear (or starting in 2nd) just means the torque converter needs to add in additional effort (at the expense of efficiency) to get the car moving and allow the engine speed to wind up toward its torque peak. Try starting in "2" and you will notice that the relationship between road and engine speed isn't linear. The engine speed comes up and then the car moves, and then the car accelerates to catch up to the engine speed. While the slushy start is beneficial on slick surfaces when winter tires aren't used, there is no advantage on dry roads.
  7. JonNC

    JonNC Driving Smarter Since 06/07/2011


    I start off in "2" 99% of the time.
    Should I not be?
    I guess I could start in "1" for a tank and see what happens?

    1st gear is the "Automotive Magazine Review" gear.
    It is geared short for aggressive take off.
    Andrew's post above shows the difference in ratios between 1st and 2nd.
    It's been my thinking that by taking advantage of the taller gear ratio, that I'm using less fuel when accelerating from a dead stop.
    But I could be wrong.

    I guess I'll give it a try (starting out in 1st) and see what happens?


    Your logic is sound.
    I've been doing it wrong.
    I feel foolish.
    I'll start in 1st from now on.
    Someone smite me.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
  8. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Try starting in 1st (D) and 2nd (2), setting your UG to report TPS and RPM. Compare TPS (throttle position) and engine rpm for each. Specifically, keep an eye on TPS value to get the car moving, and engine rpm as the car starts to move.

    In 2, you should see more throttle, and higher rpm as the car starts to move. Starting in D, you should see a little less throttle, and less rpm needed to move the car.

    Remember that it takes much more energy to get the car moving than it does to accelerate from a few mph. That's why we try to avoid coming to a complete stop. All that extra energy to get from 0-3mph needs to be sent to the drive wheels, and the added effort can come from the torque converter or from gear reduction.

    If you're heading down a hill, and you can let the car start to roll before hitting the pedal, a start in 2 can be the preferred choice. But in normal driving, the theoretical advantage goes to the first gear start.
  9. lxmike

    lxmike Well-Known Member

    I remember is an old ford i had you could start out in 2nd gear with the automatic. My dad said was helpful in winter when roads got iced up.
  10. diamondlarry

    diamondlarry Super MPG Man/god :D

    My wife's '99 Saturn SL2 will start in 2nd when the shifter is placed in 2. With that and the Blizzack's in the winter, it can get me anywhere I want to go.
  11. JonNC

    JonNC Driving Smarter Since 06/07/2011


    Thanks for the deeper explanation.
    I'm afraid to change the displayed gauges on my UG, the last time I did that some gauges went wacky.
    So i'll take your word for it. :D
    I gave it a try on the way home today and noticed the decrease in tps needed to get up to speed.
    I had forgotten just how "short" (as in duration) 1st gear was!
    I'm going to stick with it from now on and see if I can eventually quantify the difference on my daily grind.

    Thanks again Chris!

Share This Page