The "W" button - is it okay to drive at highway speeds?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Rob Guenther, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. Rob Guenther

    Rob Guenther Guest


    Just got back from NorthBay... where it was snowing quite a bit, i've never
    had such trouble driving a car in my life... Tried the W button and it
    helped a bit getting things going... and I used it on the snow covered
    highways at speeds from 50-90kph.... When the roads turned dry I turned it
    off.... Even when I had to accelerate to get up hills I didn't have any fish
    tailing it was good... But was it okay to just leave it on? I under stand it
    locks the car in 3rd for starting up... felt like it went into 4th for the
    highway tho.... and considering it was a 3rd gear start the car (960 2.9L)
    didn't feel sluggish AT ALL.
    Rob Guenther, Dec 5, 2004
  2. Rob Guenther

    Bonnet Lock Guest

    In an earlier contribution to this discussion,
    I would only use it in slippery conditions. By blocking out the lower gears,
    it reduces the amount of tractive force available at the wheels, preventing
    wheel spin and loss of directional control.

    Under normal conditions, with W engaged, the torque converter will have to
    work a lot harder every time you start off from rest - generating a lot of
    heat and burning more fuel than you do when you use the gears for low speed
    Bonnet Lock, Dec 5, 2004
  3. Rob Guenther

    Rob Guenther Guest

    I had it on in town to get me out of parking lots and maneuver around
    corners, then resume down the road... On the highway I only had to stop
    twice (at the lights in 2 small towns... I needed the W mode as much as in
    North Bay at those stops, one was black ice... ABS was kicked in under light
    braking from 100m away doing 40-50 kph, the other was snow).... For the most
    part on the highway I was driving in 3rd or what felt like 4th gear.... but
    going up hills my RPMs were only 1300-2000 rpm.... usually the tranny would
    downshift -I'm glad it didn't.

    So basically I drove the car really easy, but had the tranny and torque
    converter working extra hard under certain conditions (startups and hill
    Rob Guenther, Dec 5, 2004
  4. Once you are moving at highway speeds, the W setting makes no difference.
    In my experience, fish tailing doesn't happen with front wheel drives. If
    you also have front wheel traction control, that will help pull you up
    hills. And if you are going up a snowy hill at low speed, the W setting
    also helps.
    Marvin Margoshes, Dec 5, 2004
  5. Rob Guenther

    Rob Guenther Guest

    The 960 was always a rear drive car... i've had experience with this vehicle
    starting to slightly fish tail (well, slide its rear end to one side just a
    little bit, then have the limited slip diff kick in and straighten things
    out) while just giving the car some mild throttle inputs to accelerate while
    at-speed to maintain speed up hills or one flat road surfaces.

    Basically I was thinking to myself (I wish I was driving my Golf, I wish I
    was driving my Golf for about 45 mins while I got really used to operating a
    rear drive vehicle in snow - our 960, despite being fitted with snow tires
    has rarely seen action in snow... i've driven on snow with it MAYBE twice or
    three times... and only for a few minutes, never with ice under the roads
    like yesterday... we have never even tried the W button before... my dad
    thought it was a differential locking button)
    Rob Guenther, Dec 5, 2004
  6. I understand the 'W' button disengages the locking ring on the torque
    converter. This normally engages after a gearchange so the change is
    smooth, but the mechanical efficiency after is as good as a manual clutch.
    Without it the converter is only 80-85% efficient & torque transfer would be
    limited, hence it is best permanently disengaged when high torque to the
    wheels is not needed.

    As far as I'm aware there is no limitation on the gear selection when this
    is in use in Drive mode. The older style of auto which has manual 1-2-3
    selection is intended for towing or driving up/down hills, where unplanned
    upshifts could be dangerous.
    Andrew Potter, Dec 6, 2004
  7. Rob Guenther

    Arne C Guest

    I´m not too shure about the latest models are you ?


    Gert C

    Sweden (Used to be a Volvo Country).
    Arne C, Dec 6, 2004
  8. Rob Guenther

    Rob Guenther Guest

    The 960 and the S/V90 were rear drive 6-cylinder cars... Nothing but.

    Who cares about the new ones, if we had the XC70 we want we wouldn't have
    this winter driving dilema ;-).
    Rob Guenther, Dec 7, 2004
  9. The W state is just using the higher gear and skipping first and second.
    That is best at highway speeds. It is real gutless at low speeds.
    Stephen Henning, Dec 7, 2004
  10. Rob Guenther

    Bonnet Lock Guest

    In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

    At highway speeds it doesn't make any difference - because it won't be using
    the lower gears anyway!

    W is good for low speed use on surfaces with poor adhesion, because it
    greatly reduced the risk of wheel spin. However, it *shouldn't* be used on
    good adhesion surfaces because it is gutless and inefficient. Using the
    lower gears to generate acceleration torque is far more efficient - and
    effective - than generating torque by excessive torque converter slip.
    Bonnet Lock, Dec 7, 2004
  11. Rob Guenther

    Rob Guenther Guest

    Thanks everyone who responded... seems I used it correctly, or so it would
    seem. Glad to hear.
    Rob Guenther, Dec 7, 2004
  12. Perhaps different models / autos in the Volvo range deal with it
    differently - but AFAIK W(inter) mode makes it start from standing in 3rd

    It probably does prevent lock-up in the torque converter, too - but is
    fundamentally for starting off in a higher gear, in order to alleviate
    Zed's Dead baby, Dec 8, 2004
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