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What is the Overdrive Button Used For?

What is the Overdrive Button Used For?

You have seen the overdrive button on your vehicle before, but have you ever used it, or even know what it does? We will discuss both of these topics and let you in on what it can do for you. 

Overdrive is a setting in automatic transmissions that provides access to an additional high gear that allows the engine to run at lower revolutions per minute (RPMs). This allows the vehicle to operate more efficiently when it will be driving at a high rate of speed for extended periods.

Want to find out more about the overdrive button and how you can get the most out of having it? Then keep reading and see what it can do for you. 

What is the Overdrive Button?

The overdrive button is a button that is meant to keep added pressure off of your engine when you are driving at higher speeds for a long time. This is ideal to use when you are on a long drive on the freeway and will keep a high speed at a consistent rate. 

This button will work to keep the higher gears from putting too much pressure on the engine while you are driving. This will let your car use up less fuel throughout your trips.

This is great to use when you are driving at high speeds without needing to slow down or accelerate inconsistently, like when there is quite a bit of traffic. It is not made for use with lower speeds or city streets though. 

If you were to use the overdrive button while you are driving at speeds below 50 mph, then you can cause the speed to be varied at a dangerous rate. If used on regular streets, you could potentially damage your vehicle. 

An overdrive system has an electric and hydraulic gear that attaches to the back of your transmission. This system can help increase the speed that is outputted so that it is faster than that of the input. 

By doing this, the output is now overdriven in regards to the input shaft. This is where the term gets its name!

These overdrive buttons are more common in newer vehicles and are not always seen in older vehicles. They are often seen as standard in certain vehicles made in the modern-day.

Situations When I Should Use the Overdrive Button 

Well, the first we have already discussed, is when you are on the freeway for a long stretch at a consistent speed. However, though this is often the most common situation, you can also use it when you are going downhill. 

You put a lot of strain on your vehicle’s brakes when you are going down a steep hill, but you put a ton of strain when you need to consistently put on the brakes. This can happen when you are stuck in traffic when you are on the hill. 

This won’t allow you to speed up when you want to, and you won’t be able to keep a consistent speed. So, using the overdrive button for this situation will let your vehicle’s RPMs stay just above the idle without putting unnecessary pressure on the brakes. 

This will allow you to keep your car at a consistent slow speed without accelerating or having to stop and go forward like the rest of the traffic. 

Benefits of Using Overdrive 

There are several benefits that you get by properly using the overdrive button.

This can give your vehicle better longevity, fuel-efficiency, and can offer a quieter operation when driving.  

So, there are many benefits of using overdrive or adding one on if your car doesn’t come with it when you buy it.

1. Longevity 

Because the overdrive helps take the pressure and strain off of the vehicle’s engine at times when there is the most amount. By doing this, you are keeping your engine in better condition.

This will allow the engine to last longer than it would be able to without the use of the overdrive. So, you will have an engine that will run better over the long run. 

And, if you get used to using it whenever there is a situation that calls for it, you will allow your engine to last even longer. 

2. Fuel Efficiency 

An overdrive button can be installed on any vehicle, so whether you have a truck, sedan, or compact car, you’ll be able to reap the benefits. If you have a car that already gets good gas mileage, you can boost it so that it is even better. 

However, it will be good to install it onto a vehicle that doesn’t get as good gas mileage, because then it will help to lower the amount you spend on that vehicle.

Also, you should put it on the vehicle that you use the most if you have more than one.

This will help you get the most use out of the overdrive since that car will be on the road for much longer.

This can be especially useful when there is one car that you typically use for your daily commute, which will likely be in the scenarios where you should use the overdrive. 

3. Quieter Operation

Since the overdrive button helps the car stay at a consistent speed with a lower RPM, this also allows the engine to run with less noise. This makes the overall operation of the vehicle quieter when you are using the overdrive. 

This can keep your louder vehicles, like larger trucks that often have a louder sound, to stay at a lower decibel. This will not make much of a difference with cars that are already quiet, but you may still see a difference. 

If you have a vehicle that is often loud and wants to lower the volume, then you will benefit from the lower amount of noise produced from the vehicle when the overdrive is being used.

It should be noted that this will not be consistent if you do not have the overdrive on. This will only lower the noise while the overdrive button has been engaged. 

What if My Vehicle Doesn’t Come with an Overdrive Button?

Not all vehicles will come with an overdrive button, especially older automatic cars. If yours doesn’t come with an overdrive button, but you would like to have one, then you can add one.

You can add an overdrive button by attaching one to the transmission you have. This is typically just a smaller version of the transmission that is added on the back of the current transmission.

With an added overdrive, you will now be able to use the button when you are driving at higher speeds or when you are stuck in stop-and-go traffic. This will help you boost your fuel efficiency and keep your engine in better shape for a long time. 

This is not something that will need to be installed professionally, so the cost will not be as high as you might think. So, you will not have to factor in the cost of professional installation into the price of the unit. 

How Much Does Adding Overdrive Cost? 

The cost of the overdrive that you purchase will vary greatly. This is because there are so many different options to choose from. 

You will see some that are cheaper options that will offer good fuel efficiency, and then there are high-end options that will offer much better efficiency. These options will typically range in price anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

So, you will want to have a budget in mind when you begin shopping for an overdrive, or you could go over the price you can afford fairly easily. However, you can skip out on the professional installation if you have some knowledge of cars. 

This will lower your cost by a few hundred dollars if you can do the work yourself. Plus, there are special instructions that will help guide you through the process, so you will have some help along the way.

Final thoughts on using overdrive

If you never thought about what an overdrive button is, or what it is used for, then you could be missing out on several benefits for your vehicle. From the quieter operation to saving on gas, you could have multiple improvements to your vehicle by using or adding an overdrive button. 

Not all cars come with one, but it is not difficult to add one to your current vehicle. So, now that you know what an overdrive button is used for and when to use it, you can choose to add one to your vehicle so that you can reap the benefits that it comes with. 

When you are driving a vehicle, you should try to learn as much about it as possible so that you can do all you can to make it last longer. This will not only save you money but allow you to have a smoother ride every time you get behind the wheel.

So, whether you have one already or you want to add one, using your overdrive can help your vehicle when it needs it the most. 

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!