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Lou’s Garage

Do paddle shifters harm my car? Add to ...

I enjoy using the paddle shifters in my 2017 Toyota Camry. Is this damaging my transmission/drive systems, or is the automatic transmission able to account for and handle this stress? – Jesse S.

Because of the rapid disappearance of manual transmission in our marketplace, manufacturers have been attempting to appease the manual-shift enthusiast by offering an automatic transmission that comes equipped with a sport mode. By giving the driver the option of manually selecting a gear, control can be partially granted back to the vehicle operator.

The transmission-control module (TCM) in your Camry has been devised using complex algorithms that accurately predict the most appropriate gear to achieve maximum fuel economy given the throttle input and road conditions. When the driver engages the sport-mode feature, they can override the TCM and make gear selections similar to a manual transmission.

The driver does not have full control though; if a selection is made that the TCM has deemed unsound, it will simply not allow the transmission to move to that gear. It will hold the last valid selection, expressing its annoyance with the driver with an audible cue. Normal day-to-day transmission operation in sport mode will not significantly affect the longevity of the engine and drivetrain, fuel economy being the notable sacrifice.

That doesn’t mean its unconquerable, as I’m convinced an unruly teenage driver or weekend racer can and will find ways to inflict injustices on the family sedan.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject area.

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