some fool has been crashing the gears

Jardino

Senior Member
Korean
Topic
"You couldn't," the father said. "You're too stupid. But I don't mind telling young Mike here about it seeing he'll be joining me in the business one day." Ignoring Matilda, he turned to his son and said, "I'm always glad to buy a car when some fool has been crashing the gears so badly they're all worn out and rattle like mad. I get it cheap. Then all I do is mix a lot of sawdust with the oil in the gearbox and it runs as sweet as a nut."
source : Matilda by Royald Dahl

Can you check my understanding about this green sentence?
Some foolish person has been hit the gears( ? I don't know why he hit the equipment of a car ) so badly that they( the equipment of the car )are all worn out and rattle a lot.
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I would use "grinding or crunching the gears". It means failing to use the clutch properly when engaging the manual gears. This produces a crunching sound as the cogs (?) grind against each other.
     

    Jardino

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Here the gears mean engine part? not all of the equipment of a car ? then why it used with plural - the gears ?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Crashing the gears" refers to changing gear in a rough way - either without disengaging the clutch fully or by changing at the wrong time.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:

    Matilda was published in 1988, long after synchromesh became standard, but my guess is Dahl was thinking of an earlier generation of cars where you needed to synchronise the engine revs with the road speed before putting the car into a new gear; when changing down, this meant double declutching: mid way through the gear change, lifting your foot off the clutch a little and revving the engine to spin the transmission faster before depressing the clutch again and selecting the new gear.

    Edit: Dahl wrote for British audiences, where automatic transmissions in cars was unusual. It still is, but rather less so now than it was then.
     
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