Q. I like to rest my hand on the shift knob of my manual-transmission car’s shifter when driving. However, I’ve been told that this may damage the transmission, even if my hand is resting gently on it. —  E.M. (via Internet) 

A. Even resting your hand lightly on the shift knob will damage the transmission over time for reasons too technical to go into here. Just put your hand on that knob when changing gears. 

Q. Am I making my automatic transmission last longer if I shift the gear lever into “neutral” when waiting at say, a stoplight. — D.E. (via Internet)

A. That won’t make it last any longer. Leaving an automatic transmission car in “drive” with the engine idling and your foot on the brake when waiting during such occasions doesn’t hurt the transmission.

Q. What’s the best way to save gas when stopped for more than a few minutes while waiting, say, for a long train to pass? — J.J. (via Internet)

A. Turn off the engine. In fact, some modern cars have a system that automatically shuts off the engine to save gas when the vehicle is stopped for more than a few minutes. The engine automatically starts when the brake pedal is released and your foot is on the accelerator again. That system is designed so that the regular starter doesn’t get unusual wear. 

Q. I’ve been told that it’s not a good idea to remotely start a car on a cold morning from the comfort of my warm house to get its heater going while I finish my cup of coffee. That so? Of course, this lets me get into a warm car when I enter it. — J.C. (via Internet)

A. By starting a car remotely, you’re squandering gasoline and causing needless pollution. The best way to quickly warm up a cold car is to drive it a few miles. This way, you’re not only warming up the engine and allowing the heater to throw heat but also warming up the car’s moving parts to prevent excessive wear. Buying a car with heated seats and even a heated steering wheel will make it more comfortable while the car gets warmed up when driven if you can’t stand even a few minutes of being cold for a relatively short time in the car.

Q. Former top auto company executive Bob Lutz predicted in the November 6 Automotive News publication that we are “approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.” Do you agree? I think that’s nonsense. — A.C. (via Internet)

A. Lutz may be overstating things. Mike Jackson, the CEO of the country’s largest dealership group, wrote in the November 27 Automotive News, that he’s “not in Bob Lutz’s camp.” Jackson wrote that there are “265 million vehicle on the road that American consumers love and use very economically for independent transportation, and these vehicles will not be made obsolete from one moment to the next. They will have a life span on the road of 25 years.”

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