When Am I Supposed to Be In Neutral?

The neutral gear is the least used gear for motorists with automatic transmissions; in fact, it's technically not even a gear. More importantly, it serves such a critical function. While a car is in neutral, the gas pedal does not accelerate the vehicle, and no power from the acceleration is ever transmitted to the wheels. For those with manual transmission vehicles, you are an exception. Manuals require the driver to be neutral before anything gear changes. However, most automatic transmission drivers seldom use this tool. So why is it there?

During a Drive-Thru Car Wash

If you are a mechanical car wash goer, you are probably familiar with the process. You must place your car in neutral gear so that you can safely pass through the cleaning cycles smoothly and safely. Otherwise, the chances of accidents in a car wash would be increased.

During a Tow Without a Dolly

Placing a vehicle in a neutral state during a tow isn't usually advised unless the tow truck lacks a dolly. Putting your car in neutral in this circumstance will minimize the risk of damaging your vehicle in the process.

When You Need to Push Your Vehicle

In the situation where your vehicle stalls or is stuck in something, you may need to give your vehicle a push to get it going. Before you roll up your sleeves and put full force onto the car, you need to put the vehicle in neutral. Also, you need at least two people to do the job. One person should be behind the wheel to navigate. While the other(s) should push.

During Brake Failure

If your brakes malfunction mid-drive, most people think you should immediately turn off the car. However, this is the one case where you should resist doing so because it can lock up your steering wheel. Placing the vehicle in neutral during brake failure is the most dependable approach as it will allow you to steer away from the road.


In conclusion, the neutral function is only ever used at a car wash or in emergencies. Though it is rarely used, you should still know when to use it. If you need any auto maintenance or repairs, give McSpadden's Tire & Automotive a visit today!