I am interested to hear what everyone considers is the 'proper' way to use this feature. Does everyone leave it on all the time just switching off when needed or do the majority continually switch it on an off....and for what reason?
I have never had a vehicle with this feature before and the manual is a little unclear.
........having a great time with my Escape............very impressed!!!
For most driving, leaving it on is the way to go. Check out your owners manual to confirm.
But to explain it further,the overdrive or 4th gear will engage around 40-45mph. You can push in the little button on the side of the stick to disengage it, only allowing the transmission to shift to 3rd gear.
If you don't want to think about it, don't use the feature, because if you leave it on, and driving down the highway, you don't want to be driving in 3rd gear. This puts wear on the transmission and hurts fuel mileage.
On the other hand, any type of driving below 40mph, you will be fine.
Where you want to use this feature is when you are doing some driving around the 35-50mph range. The transmission will start to hunt and shift in and out of overdrive. Sometimes you will feel this. This will put undo wear on the overdrive band, and raises the temperature in your transmission, breaking down the trans fluid faster. I personally use this feature, when I think about it, but for most driving, you don't need to.
Set it, and forget it.
I also drain and fill my trans fluid of the 4qts every 15K miles.
Hope this helps.