Everything about the Overdrive Button on a Toyota

I was reading the information that floating out there about the Overdrive button on most automatic transmission vehicles and it left me scratching your head. Have you ever encountered a situation where what somebody is saying is the exact opposite of what you know? That is what happened to me today. Apparently the internet does not know everything! Or maybe, it does, but situations vary. I don’t know. Anyway, here is everything that I know about the overdrive button on Toyotas;

What is overdrive in automatic vehicles?

The overdrive function in automatic vehicles is, based on my experiences, designed to give the driver additional power on the road by shifting the car into a lower gear. Usually, what happens when you press the O/D button is that the car shifts into 3rd gear. This provides it with the additional toque that is needed in some situations. I admit, I have come across some articles claiming the overdrive button shifts a vehicle into an upper gear. That’s not what happens on mine!

Which car do I drive?

I drive a battered and bruised 2000 Toyota Corolla. Yes, cars from back then are still up and running. I am in Zimbabwe and that’s considered a new car. Probably not! Anyway, the vehicle had low mileage when I got. So, other than the peeling paint and a few dent’s from the occasional roadkill, the it still drives like new. The Corolla has an O/D button, and I have occasionally used it.

I am always thinking if the people in Japan who sell their used cars to Zimbabweans and other African countries were to make follow-ups, they would be vastly surprised at the terrains on which the cars are driven. I mean, I have driven the Corolla on barely visible trails and up hills out there in rural Buhera. At first the scratches that it accumulated from engaging in warfare with thorns on the side of roads were something to worry about. Now I have gotten used to them. As long as a problem on the car does not prevent me from driving, I just ignore it.

What happens when I press the O/D button?

When I press the overdrive button in my car, there is a noticeable increased in power. The O/D off light then comes on on the screen. Okay, so maybe there is something to what those other people are saying. It all sounds like mathematics. The fact that the display says O/D off means the normal driving condition is with the O/D on. Which means the O/D button is there to what?

Okay, things risk being lost in translation here. I still think my explanation is the correct one. If the normal driving condition is with overdrive on, then the overdrive button is there to turn the overdrive off to give the vehicle greater power. I usually do this while trying to overtake on Zimbabwe’s roads. Using the overdrive function momentarily turns my rather uninspiring Corolla into a sports car. I am then able to zoom past other vehicles at a quicker pace.

Driving with the Overdrive off uses up excessive amounts of fuel

This is something that I have noticed a number of times. While trying to overtake in front of a coming haulage truck, I have been forced to use the overdrive function. Afterwards, there is always a noticeable decrease in the level of fuel in my tanks. It’s like I can see the gauge falling right there before my eyes. So, I always make sure that the O/D light is not lit on my dashboard.

What do you think?

So, what do you think? This appears to be a needless complicated subject. What does your car do when you press the O/D button? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.


  1. I recently noticed that my Toyota Corolla wont get into overdrive and its consuming up to 10km/litre on the highway because its using powerfukl gears. Is there a way of rectifying this problem or i need to replace the gearbox?

    1. Hmmm, you probably need to change the gearbox. But… what do you mean won’t go into overdrive? Overdrive ndeye paunenge uchida kuovertaker kazhinji jacho kana uchikwira makata. That’s when you press the button and the light turns on on the dash. The default is out of overdrive, ie with no light on the dash. Anyway, hope you resolved the issue.

  2. I use the O/D all the time.
    When I start going, the overdrive is off and the little beauty does it’s thing and starts going through it’s gears.
    When I get up to about 70 or 8o KPH I turn the O/D on.
    Or if the speed limit is lower I turn the O/D on when I am at the limit, or even when just chugging along slowly, I have the O/D on.
    I also use it to slow down before cornering, and even slip the transmission into 2nd gear just after turning the O/D off to pull the car up even faster to make the corner or to avoid an accident, it really pulls the car up quickly.
    When I am on a drive I am using the O/D button all the time, I turn it off before a bend and even use the gears if needed and then back up through the gears and then O/D on to power out, but you must feel the car and when you know your rev ranges of your engine and the rev ranges of the gears, your set for some pretty cool sporty driving.
    In normal driving conditions, it helps with tire wear and it also helps with brake pads wearing. THE BUTTON IS NOT THERE TO JUST LOOK AT, AND NEITHER ARE THE GEARS ON THE GEAR SHIFT!
    It changes the attitude of the car and makes it sit more evenly on and bend and you can apply the power early and heavier during the bend.
    But you must get your timing right!!!!
    Happy driving.

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