• Server migration complete
    In the early morning of September 26, 2020, our migration to new servers was completed.
    Things seem to be working as expected, but if you notice any issues including not receiving email notifications,
    please vistit this thread for more details

Travelling in first?

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
Hi all, me again with another likely dummy question. I've been searching around the forums but can't seem to find the answer. I've always driven manual (and still do) but I've always used 1st gear as a "starting-only" gear and then gone right into second.

It almost seems like in the Golf TDI I should be using first gear for travelling as well. I just wanted to check in with you experts and make sure I'm not going to break the car if I travel for a while (~1 mile) in first gear. I stay in 1st and never get to 3000 rpm to shift in the conditions I'm talking about here, and if I do shift I'll be travelling at around 1100-1200 rpm.

If I go to 2nd the rpm will be too low, but I need to be going 10-20 mph. This is either on a dirt road, in traffic, or going up ramps in parking garages. Thanks!
 

coalminer16

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 11, 2008
Location
Central Wisconsin
TDI
Golf 2004
Wow. Drive more and worry less. I think 1st can handle it. And on a warm engine even a faster RPM although I would just shift to 2nd then.
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
Okay, cool thanks guys! I guess I've been reading these forums too much:). I taught myself how to drive stick and never really cared about it much since I was driving Hondas. So, since I now have this awesome rocket I want to make sure I'm treating it right. I will travel in first and not worry about it! Just always thought it was a gear just for starting the car and not going far. Thanks again!
 

Corsair

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2003
Location
Auburn, New York
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS TDI 5M
Another visit to the ever debatable "when should I shift?" topic....
my 0.02...
These cars have enough torque that you can often start out in 2nd at any rate. It's a "feel" that you have to develop, and depends on whether you're going up hill or down hill etc. I think you probably don't need to be "singing" the engine near 3000 in first, though doing so won't hurt it. In 2nd gear, pulling around 1200, there's still plenty of torque multiplication and the engine should be fine with pulling around 1200 in 2nd. Now, if you're going up-hill and the engine is laboring, then I'd recommend use first and let it sing a little. And I won't be surprised at all to find someone else replies with pretty much the opposite of what I just wrote here....

I'll share a quick story about my own experience, slightly different situation than what you wrote about... When I go through a 30MPH speed zone with my car, I can run in 3rd at around 2400 RPM or 4th at around 1700. I often choose to let it sing a bit in 3rd, especially if I'm going up a light grade. Keeping it in 3rd tends to remind me that I'm above 30MPH as the engine sings. If I do it in 4th, the car has plenty of torque but I find that I tend to end up at 40 or 45MPH, which is ticket territory.
 

jetlagmech

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Location
Puyallup, WA
TDI
2010 jetta
I have found the same as you in parking garage round-a-bout ramps. 1st seems to low a gear and 2nd seems too high. I tend to either slow down in 1st if wife with me or if alone speed up and dig the corners a little in 2nd.
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
Thanks very much, guys! That is really helpful advice above. It's my first time having a tach, so a whole new world has been opened up to me LOL :). I watch the tach more than the speedometer! I used to always start the Honda in 2nd but I thought that was a big no-no with this car because it likes to be so high in the rpm. I'm almost at 1200 miles now and got it to 4000 for the first time this morning! What a rush :). I don't know if I can get it any higher, the sound is too intense! But I will try ;). Thanks again.
 

AndyBees

Top Post Dawg
Joined
May 27, 2003
Location
Southeast Kentucky
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta TDI, Silver 2000 Jetta TDI (sold), '84 Vanagon with '02 ALH engine
In my opinion running (driving) around in 1st gear at 3grand RPMs is a waste of fuel....shift it and go on!

Also, worry less and shift...........I've been shifting over forty years and my brain is so programmed I shift without giving it ANY thought!....just do it!
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
In my opinion running (driving) around in 1st gear at 3grand RPMs is a waste of fuel....shift it and go on!

Also, worry less and shift...........I've been shifting over forty years and my brain is so programmed I shift without giving it ANY thought!....just do it!
I used to shift without thinking, too. I'm trying to re-program myself to shift at higher rpm though, with this car, per the break in rules and rules for the life of the car. I want it to last as long as possible so if having a heavier foot and shifting at higher rpm will do it, I'm there! Also just wanted to clarify...I'm not driving around at 3K rpm, but for the last few days I've been staying in 1st at 2000-2500 rpm before shifting. I'll ease off a little now. Seems like it maybe wants to be at higher rpm at the higher gears but doesn't care as much in the lower gears. Which makes things difficult without a race track nearby!
 

Conan

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2010
Location
Denver
TDI
2003 GLS TDI
I've heard of a trick you can do with a TDI, that I've never had a chance to try. Sounds like you have access to long roads with no other traffic. With your foot off the throttle, put the car in first. You should be able launch the car from idle, and shift all the way through the gears without touching the 'gas' pedal. Maybe it's an urban myth-- try it and let us know! (Unrelated to your question, but it sounds like you'd be an ideal 'guinea pig'.)
 

Corsair

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2003
Location
Auburn, New York
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS TDI 5M
#11- I've done it at least into 4th with mine, never tried 5th (without pedal).

I'm not advocating either to drive around at 3000RPM in 1st. It's not simply a matter of watching the tach. Must also combine what is the loading on the engine at the time. For instance, might be able to pull from 1300RPM in 4th gear, if going down a slight hill. But if going UP a slight hill at 1300RPM in 4th, a downshift would be in order.

because it likes to be so high in the rpm
I want it to last as long as possible so if having a heavier foot and shifting at higher rpm will do it, I'm there!
I'm concerned that maybe a message is getting garbled somewhere. These engines are NOT high RPM engines. Quite the opposite, actually.

IMHO:
Don't lug the engine.
Typically upshift at 3000 - 3300 when accelerating.
Won't hurt anything to run along at 3000 RPM, but personally I don't do that in parking lots or garages (or anywhere, come to think of it). If you're in a low gear going steady speed at 3000 RPM, probably an upshift is in order. #7 gave good words of wisdom- maybe the trans gear split isn't perfectly aligned with the speeds you happen to want to travel at in the particular situation. (Also like #7's solution !!)

I also didn't mean to suggest that revving the engine to high RPMs will extend its life. Mine routinely sees 3100 RPM on upshifts. Mine rarely sees above ~3500 RPM.
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
...
I'm concerned that maybe a message is getting garbled somewhere. These engines are NOT high RPM engines. Quite the opposite, actually.
...
I also didn't mean to suggest that revving the engine to high RPMs will extend its life. Mine routinely sees 3100 RPM on upshifts. Mine rarely sees above ~3500 RPM.
Hmm, maybe a message is getting garbled. I've been religiously reading these forums since I got the car a few weeks ago, and maybe the miscommunication is mine. When I say "high rpm" I mean over 2000 LOL. My Honda didn't have a tach, but I'm pretty sure I rarely went over 2000 in it. I think I mostly stayed around 1500. I drove a friend's the other day and it was going 60 in 5th gear at around 2000.

Driving without a tach all these years, I just did it by sound. When it got loud I would upshift :). The Golf gets fairly loud above 2000 but I let it do that, because of all the places in the forum that say how it wants to cruise around 2000 and shift around 3000.

So, I apologize for my ignorance. I'm learning about all of this as I go and am very grateful to the advice here. I hope I'm understanding it correctly. Maybe when I go for my 6000 mile checkup (I'm only at 1200 now) they will tell me if I'm doing it right. I don't want to lug, and I don't want glazing to happen. I don't really understand load even though I've been asking everyone I know about it and searching the internet. It seems like if I'm in 5th gear doing 60mph uphill, with my foot hard on the accelorator, then load is happening :eek:. So I try to do that.

I'm not TOO worried and I am really loving the car, and I know I'm not doing any true harm to it, but this topic is very interesting to me so I've been reading about it and trying to follow the advice given. I wish I could get a real-life demonstration of these things so I can get an actual feel for it better.

One more thing, about the car seeing 3500 rpm...DBW's advice is to explore the entire range of rpm, so that's why I've been trying to get it higher now that I'm over 1K miles on the car.

Thanks again. I hope this is helpful for other newbies like me!
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
Sorry, just wanted to add that in another thread I was just reading TornadoRed's comment:

Your Golf is still practically new; you have barely begun the break-in process. You should not even be driving for economy right now, instead you should be working the engine hard, revving higher, using WOT (wide-open-throttle), accelerating and decelerating repeatedly.
(He/She was not speaking to me at the time). So, that's what I think I've been doing and that was the main reason I asked the initial question of how long I should really stay in first. Just thought it might add some clarity. :)
 

Conan

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2010
Location
Denver
TDI
2003 GLS TDI
Hmm, maybe a message is getting garbled. I've been religiously reading these forums since I got the car a few weeks ago, and maybe the miscommunication is mine. When I say "high rpm" I mean over 2000 LOL. My Honda didn't have a tach, but I'm pretty sure I rarely went over 2000 in it. I think I mostly stayed around 1500. I drove a friend's the other day and it was going 60 in 5th gear at around 2000.
If you never got over 2K RPM in a Honda, you never came anywhere near the power. In a TDI, it's fairly pointless to rev much over 3K, but in a Civic Si (to cite an extreme example), you'd think you were driving a crippled Prius if you drove it around at 2K RPM. I think peak HP is something like 7500. When it's warmed up I shift about 3K, or 4K if I'm driving agressively. Cruising, I think I keep it around 1800. One thing that might be confusing you is the common recommendation to do an "Italian Tune-up". A good way to do that (IMO) is to find a long, straight hill with a pretty good grade (and no cops). Cruise about 2K RPM in third, for example, then PUNCH IT! (Try to avoid loading the turbo with WOT (Wide Open Throttle) at lower RPMs. The turbo charger takes a beating if you do that. The point there is to run high boost under load, so it blows the crap out of the turbocharger. I drive like that all the time, so I don't worry about it.

BTW, when breaking in an engine, the most important rule is to try NOT to run at steady RPM. Don't even use cruise when it's new. No upside at all to cruising in first. I don't even use first at all, except for taking off from a dead stop.
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
I will try that, I've been contemplating the "Italian Tune-up" all week :). When I punch it (put my foot down on the accelorator fast and hard) should I keep it in 3rd? Then get up to like 4500 and then let it go back down? Just want to make sure my understanding is accurate.

Wow about the Civic! I admit, I drive like an old lady. Or I used to, now I'm using a heavier foot and revving higher (and even learning the lingo LOL). It gave me 160K good miles of driving, then everything started going wrong so I got this new car. It is much more enjoyable with the heavy foot I must admit, just a little hard to get used to.

I'm not actually using cruise control at all, haven't even turned it on yet. I was going to wait until at least 10K miles per DBW's instructions. By "cruise" I meant drive along in traffic or a dirt road at less than 20 mph. I've been trying to vary my RPM but I admit sometimes I let it sit around 2000 when I'm on the highway, for at least 10 minutes at a time.

How you use first gear is how I always used to use it, to get moving again after being stopped. I think I may just continue doing that, and stay in 2nd even though the RPM will be lower, unless I'm going uphill and need the power.
 

AndyBees

Top Post Dawg
Joined
May 27, 2003
Location
Southeast Kentucky
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta TDI, Silver 2000 Jetta TDI (sold), '84 Vanagon with '02 ALH engine
Myth

I've heard of a trick you can do with a TDI, that I've never had a chance to try. Sounds like you have access to long roads with no other traffic. With your foot off the throttle, put the car in first. You should be able launch the car from idle, and shift all the way through the gears without touching the 'gas' pedal. Maybe it's an urban myth-- try it and let us know! (Unrelated to your question, but it sounds like you'd be an ideal 'guinea pig'.)
No myth at all! The ECU attempts to maintain the engine at 903 RPM. The strong long-end torque of the TDI allows the ECU/engine to do all the throttling for you.

Try this one: On a long basically flat straight-away section of road with no one following you, get the car up to 65 or 70 mph and let off the accelerator.........let it coast in 5th gear all the way down until the ECU kicks in! The ECU will maintain speed!

Lastly, two things, we all know (or should) that occasionally taking the RPMs up into the upper 3000 to low 4000 RPM range is necessary to exercise the Actuator on the Turbo and blow the curd out of the Vane system, secondly, shifting at 3000 rpm from 1st to 2nd will not drop the RPMs to 1200 .........more like 2000 to 2100, very near the sweet spot of PEAK torque.

So, there's little doubt driving your TDI at a higher than necessary RPM is a waste of engine and fuel!

Edit: It doesn't take 4500 RPM to do the clean-out (Italian tune-up). I do the WOT thru two or three gears about once per tank of fuel.....never have I had any issues with the Actuator/Vanes on/in the Turbo!............almost 285k miles on the clock!
 
Last edited:

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
secondly, shifting at 3000 rpm from 1st to 2nd will not drop the RPMs to 1200 .........more like 2000 to 2100, very near the sweet spot of PEAK torque.
In the situation I'm trying to describe, I'll shift at 3000, but then the speed I'm going is so slow that the RPM immediately goes down to around 1200 and stays there. Because I'm going slowly. I upshift, but I'm not accelorating any more if that makes any sense.

Also, I want to try the shifting without using the accelorator I'm just worried that I'll stall out. But I'm very interested to try and see if the speed is maintained like AndyBees described! That's neat.
 

KLXD

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 22, 2009
Location
Lompoc, CA
TDI
'98, '2 Jettas
I will try that, I've been contemplating the "Italian Tune-up" all week :). When I punch it (put my foot down on the accelorator fast and hard) should I keep it in 3rd? Then get up to like 4500 and then let it go back down? Just want to make sure my understanding is accurate.
The point is not to "punch" it. You want to wind it out. In as many gears as you can until you get to a speed you don't want to exceed.
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
LOL rickcrna1, I thought this is what TDI 101 was there for! I'm obviously not quite getting it yet, so I continue to ask... :) it's what makes the world go round.
 

AndyBees

Top Post Dawg
Joined
May 27, 2003
Location
Southeast Kentucky
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta TDI, Silver 2000 Jetta TDI (sold), '84 Vanagon with '02 ALH engine
Simply put: (these numbers are out of the air) If the car is going roughly 15 MPH in 1st gear at 3000 RPM.........then, you shift to 2nd, the RPM shoud drop down very close to the "sweet spot" for maximum torque of the TDI engine, i.e. 1900 rpm to 2100 (somewhere in that range), not 1200 RPM. No way! Remember, the vehicle is running at about 15 MPH. So, at 15 MPH in 2nd gear will generate a higher RPM than you appear to be getting.

Remember, the numbers I used are "out of the air"...but should be close, cause VW engineers did not design a transmission with a grear ratio from 1st to 2nd that would drop the RPMs as much as you have indicated.........unless you are driving straight up and the speed dropped from 15 to 5 as you shifted. Of course, some folks shift and let the car back off in the next gear, thus causing the RPMs/MPH to drop!

Check out this graph with respect to the RPMs and MPH per gear and assumed shifting speeds, etc. Note: This is a Vanagon gasser Tranny with the 4.57 ring & pinion. Look at the RPM drop from 3rd to 4th.....2100 RPM...that's perfect for the application I am doing. Notice the other RPM drops are not very suited for the TDI engine. The tranny received a $1,000.00 rebuild, which included the new 3rd and 4th gears with upgraded ratios, as well as all new bearings, etc.
 
Last edited:

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
I think that's what I'm doing:

Of course, some folks shift and let the car back off in the next gear, thus causing the RPMs/MPH to drop!
I will pay closer attention to this tonight! I'm in this situation frequently so I should be able to get more concrete numbers. I think I have to let it back off in the next gear to maintain the 15 mph speed...but maybe not. Thanks! To me, this thread is very interesting. Sorry if it's not for everyone :) but if I'm getting use out of it someone else must be, too IMO.
 

TDI_Timmy

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Location
Seattle
TDI
2012 JSW, DSG, Pano
In following this thread I find it interesting because they are all the same questions I had.

I totally understand the parking garage what gear do I use or pulling a steep hill from a dead stop when do I shift to 2nd, etc...

If I might add to this - parking garage scenario - sometimes I keep it in first (only going about 10MPH) but I roll down the windows and fluctuate the throttle so I can hear the turbo spool up.:D Sometimes I shift to second - drops RPMs to around 1200 or so but I am not worried about lugging the engine as I am not going uphill or trying to accelerate quickly. If there is ramp I might slow a little to go back into 1st so that it pulls it at a healthier RPM.

My take on hills - Living in Seattle we encounter some pretty steep hills. That's the only time I really wind 1st gear out. Might take it between 3200-3400 before shifting to 2nd so that I have good momentum before shifting and I am sure the RPMs won't fall below 1500. I might be asking too much with the right foot when going to 2nd as it feels the ECU doesn't allow the 2nd to accelerate all that quickly - it feels like it is being held back. Car is still new to me so it is taking some getting used to on the hills around here. I also try to avoid those hills with a cold engine. In addition - some people like to creep up the hills and makes it so that if I was in 2nd I would be lugging pretty bad so I sit behind them in 1st at 2800 RPM going however fast. Had it happen to me the other day - man was it frustrating!

Driving on flat surfaces - I sometimes use 1st up until 2600-2800 RPM and then 2nd I usually take to 3K or something like that. I don't accelerate gingerly - but I like to make the turbo work, and I feel that if I accelerate to 3K RPM making sure the turbo is boosting all the way it would be too aggressive and I would probably be driving too fast. 1st gear too feels pretty short and feels like it wants to be in 2nd before I hit 3K RPM.

"Italian tune-up" - those are fun.:D Just a nice smooth linear throttle action to the floor with the right foot. I like using the traffic meters at freeway on ramps for those! Only when traffic is moving of course - did one just the other day and I had a huge smile on my face.

In regards to load on an engine - my experience with turbo charged engines is that when traveling on a flat surface with the engine turning at 3K and let's just say in first gear there isn't a lot of load on the engine and the turbo isn't really boosting all that much if at all - it isn't until either you go up an incline making the car work while maintaining same RPM or if you start to accelerate then there is a load and turbo starts to boost more. I kind of think of it has revving and engine in neutral - no load and it isn't creating a lot of power. With that in mind, I do think that driving at 60 in 6th gear at roughly 1800RPM there is load caused by wind resistance - the car is definitely working differently at that speed and RPM then 15MPH @3K (1st gear) on flat where aerodynamics don't really quite work in yet. Lower gears also multiply the torque and in the higher gears it is more of the engine torque keeping things going.

Enjoy driving your car!
 
Last edited:

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
That is a very enlightening graph, thanks!

TDI Timmy, I do the same thing in the parking garage in first, it sounds cool! Thank you for the easy-to-understand post, it is helpful. This stuff fascinates me for some reason :). "With much power comes much responsibility" - I've never felt so much power in a car I was driving before, it's a little scary sometimes! I remember when I went for the test drive, as soon as I started moving I lifted both feet up and almost stalled, I was so surprised by the torque :).

I think I may be doing 2 things "wrong": 1st, I don't think I accelorate fast enough. I rarely push the pedal down more than a tiny bit, unless I'm consciously trying to push it down fast and hard (which I've been trying to do with this car). I think I need to get up to speed faster. The 2nd thing is maybe it's taking too long to actually move the stick to the next gear. So in the time the clutch is down, the RPM drop, then I get it into 2nd gear and they're down there still until I move faster. I will work on both of these, especially moving the stick into gear faster. So FUN!
 

Ski in NC

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Location
Wilmington, NC USA
TDI
2001 Jetta ALH 5sp stock
Cycling through a parking garage does pose a bit of a dilemma for stick shifts. Engine does rev high in first, and tends to lug in second. Most other driving situations you are passing through the 10-15mph speed either speeding up or slowing down.

So pick the gear that seems to suit the situation best. Nothing wrong with 1200 in second, as long as engine is not lugging, that is, no vibration felt. Nothing wrong with 3000 in first, but that is rather noisy and wastes a bit of fuel.
 

TDI_Timmy

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Location
Seattle
TDI
2012 JSW, DSG, Pano
Glad my post made some sense.:)

One thing to think and might help when accelerating is using a smooth (maybe firm) linear action with the right foot. Don't press hard and fast especially if you are under 2000RPM. The ECU doesn't like full power asked below that RPM and won't give it to you. That is when you use a firmer linear downward movement with your foot. It is hard for me to convey this feeling into words, but I kind of think of the accelerator as a carrot dangling in front of the donkey. My right foot is just a bit ahead of the engine RPMs.
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
Cycling through a parking garage does pose a bit of a dilemma for stick shifts. Engine does rev high in first, and tends to lug in second. Most other driving situations you are passing through the 10-15mph speed either speeding up or slowing down.
...Unless you're driving on the Merrit Parkway in CT! LOL I'm in 10-15 for miles at a time on the way to work. I haven't been holding it at 3000 in first, but I have been holding it around 2000 in first. Hopefully that won't wear out anything prematurely but it's probably better than lugging.

I hear you, TDI Timmy - I don't (and won't) do the hard/fast thing under 2000. But I also don't want to "flutter" the pedal so I need to find a happy median. The carrot analogy is a good one, I will try to think of it that way this afternoon. The "golf ball instead of egg" thing doesn't quite work for me. Maybe I need to push it more, but not fast. I do think I'm not pushing it down enough if you know what I mean ;). It is not easy to describe in text! Too bad none of you live near me we could do a demo!
 

lvfnchs

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Location
Connecticut, USA
TDI
Buyback: Golf TDI 2011 / Now have Golf TDI 2015
Nothing wrong with 1200 in second, as long as engine is not lugging, that is, no vibration felt.
Aha! Good to know, good to know, thank you. I didn't realize it was only "lugging" if I felt vibration. I haven't felt any so perhaps I'm doing something right after all.

I appreciate it, guys! You'll see me on the track in no time ;)
 
Top