Most drivers are not flawless. We all make mistakes on the road or track. These mistakes are usually modest, allowing us to grow and learn from them. They help us become better drivers. Of course, some blunders can lead to more catastrophic repercussions. The infamous money shift is one such mistake that can seriously damage your engine and transmission.
In this article, we’ll define a money shift and explain what happens when you do one. We’ll also provide you with some helpful advice on how to avoid it.
What Actually is a ‘Money Shift’?
A money shift occurs when a motorist intends to shift up a gear at full power but instead chooses a lower gear. It’s termed ‘money shift’ because it can inflict costly engine and transmission damage.
Hearing the words ‘money’ and ‘shift’ combined makes even the most experienced drivers squirm. We are all human and everyone makes mistakes from time to time. But certain blunders can be quite costly.
Accidentally shifting down a gear while at maximum acceleration can have serious ramifications for your vehicle.
What could happen when you money shift?
So, how awful is money shifting? It depends. When you accidentally downshift near the redline, you can face a variety of problems. From minimal inconvenience to total financial headache, here are the most likely outcomes:
1. You’ll lose control of the vehicle
When you mistakenly drop a gear during full acceleration, the rear end of your car may swing out. This occurs when the car attempts to slow down too quickly, breaking the traction of your tires on the road.
When you shift money, the car’s speed is substantially reduced due to engine brakes. This happens to rectify the incorrect shift. At best, this will result in uncertain handling and, at worst, a full-fledged spin-out.
Remember that all of this will happen in the space of a second, emphasizing the importance of rapid reactions and ability. Always make sure you’re comfortable with a car and its controls before taking it out on the circuit!
2. Engine damage
Money shifting can cause serious problems for an engine by overrevving. If an engine revs above its redline for an extended period, permanent damage, such as valve float, will occur.
Consider it this way. In my Mazda MX-5 NB, I can reach the redline in third gear at around 92mph. In second gear, I’ll reach the red line at a considerably slower 62 mph. If I’m traveling at 92mph in third and I unintentionally shift down to second, the engine will temporarily travel at a greater speed than the rev limits would normally allow because the wheels are spinning too quickly for the engine.
In this situation, potential money shift damage could include the dreaded valve float, crankshaft failure, piston seizing, and connecting rods ejecting themselves from the engine block. We told you that money transfers were pricey!
3. Transmission damage
Accidental downshifting can put additional strain on your clutch and other gearbox components. Gear synchronizers and the clutch itself are susceptible to erroneous operation.
The engine rpm limiter helps your clutch and transmission function at regular rates. If your clutch operates at speeds greater than the red line, it may break or perhaps shatter. When a clutch disc shatters, the fragments might travel through the transmission casing, causing catastrophic injury or damage.
Don’t be fooled: even if you don’t fully engage the clutch in a money shift, changing gears will cause the clutch disc to spin faster than it should. Do not do it!
4. Absolutely nothing
If you’re lucky enough to rectify a money shift quickly, you may be able to avoid causing any damage or loss of handling to your car.
Engines and transmissions are designed to last. While your car was not built to go over the red line, it is not the end of the world if it does. Your engine may even be over-engineered, which means there is some leeway at high RPMs.
If you are the victim of a money transfer, pull over as quickly as possible to inspect for damage. Keep an ear out for any strange sounds, knocks, or noises originating from the engine or transmission.
If everything appears to be in order, you will most likely have survived the dreaded money shift. Your wallet will thank you. Please do not do that again!
How to avoid money shifting
Fortunately, money shifting is not prevalent. When you hit the rev limitation, most transmissions will resist shifting into a lower gear. Simply put, most shifters should warn you when you’re about to do something improper.
However, worn bushings, faulty synchros, and fatigued transmission mounts can all enhance the risk of a money shift. Here are some helpful techniques to avoid any unintentional downshifts:
- Take it gently and don’t rush your gear changes.
- Don’t shove gears: help guide the shifter to its next destination.
- Practice good shifting techniques. Do not clutch the gearshift too firmly.
- If your transmission has visible problems, repair them
- Have fun and don’t stress about it: Money shifting is rare.
Aside from our advice, you should ensure that you are comfortable in a car before putting it through a high-pressure event, such as a track day. Practice makes perfect!
And there you have it. I’ve been the victim of a money transfer once or twice, but my faults did not do any severe damage. Sure, my pride suffered, but I learned a few lessons about what not to do when driving on the track.
Even if your engine is virtually bulletproof and your driving ability is unparalleled, it is never a good idea to develop the habit of over-revving. It may potentially injure you if you are not cautious. Have you ever experienced the infamous money shift? Tell us how it went for you.