What Happens if You Put Your Car in Reverse While Driving?

This is one of those dumb car questions that doesn’t have a good answer. A similarly stupid question to try and answer is, “how hard can I hit this window before it breaks?” Thankfully, someone in the vastness of YouTube decided to figure this out for us. In case you were wondering, putting your car in reverse while you driving will yield only heartbreak. But, let’s get into it. 

A Ford Ranger smokes it's tires after slamming into reverse at 50 mph
Ford Ranger hitting reverse at 50 mph | AutoVlog via YouTube

Can you put your car in reverse while driving? 

Nowadays, most cars won’t allow you to slam them into reverse while driving forward. However, if you knew a time before super-computerized cars, this idiotic query crossed your mind a few times. This is clearly more difficult in automatic cars, but for our manual drivers, this has grown beyond a query a time or two. Sometimes we’ve even been tempted to try it. Of course, no one is dumb enough to do that. Well, almost no one. 

The YouTube Channel, AutoVlog put a 1994 Ford Ranger on the line for the pursuit of science. Michael Vaim is one of these internet people who makes a living destroying perfectly good vehicles. He recently tried to answer the same question with a Chevy Prism. However, the car was only front-wheel drive and an automatic. He decided he wanted to try it with a manual 4×4 to see how that shakes out. 

What happens when you put your truck in reverse at 50 mph? 

The first attempt was surprisingly anti-climactic. He didn’t have 4WD engaged, and the rear tires just started spinning when he let the clutch out in reverse at 50 mph. With that shock out of the way, he went for another pass—this time with 4WD engaged. 

In 4-low and going 45 mph, Vaim slams the Ford Ranger into reverse. The Ranger does exactly what it should given such absurd treatment; it explodes. This wasn’t a fiery explosion, but instead, a mechanical and existential explosion – the Ranger’s world ended. 

A horrible grinding noise is quickly followed by a symphony of destruction. There is whining, grinding, ticking, “ker-chunking,” and about any other scary metallic onomatopoeia, you can imagine. 

How to destroy your transmission

As CarScoops notes, the end result is pretty anti-climactic. Don’t get me wrong, he destroyed the transmission, but the truck just makes some scary noises and slowly comes to a stop. The YouTuber doesn’t show us the hell unleashed on the Ford Ranger’s gearbox, but the gear shifter still seems to work. However, the clutch was surely obliterated. 

In case this answer was something we really needed, we now know without a shadow of a doubt that putting your 4×4 vehicle while in reverse is a categorically horrible idea. 

Although clearly stupid, this may have just as well been a mercy killing. Vaim has tortured this same Ranger in the past. He tried to answer some other silly questions like can the truck run on Red Bull, vodka, or tequila. 

However, something tells me this old Ford Ranger might make a comeback.

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