What does this OD - OFF on my vehicle dashboard mean?

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What does this OD - OFF on my vehicle dashboard mean?

Uncle Kunle, what does this OD-OFF sign on my car‘s dashboard mean?” A confused young lady recently called me, wanting to

know the meaning (or the cause) of the sudden appearance of OD-OFF sign on her vehicle‘s instrument cluster.

The OD is simply the abbreviation of Over-Drive. It‘s a phrase that historically found its way and common usage into the automotive (vehicular) transmission (or gear) system.

Generally speaking, OD is the top-most gear in the transmission (or gear) system. If, say in a manual-gear vehicle, the gear starts from Gear-1 and ends in Gear-5, Gear-5 (in this particular example) is the OD.

The OD simply allows the engine to operate at a lower RPM (Revolution per Minute) on an open or clear road where an automatic-gear vehicle wants to engage its highest gear-power for speed.

This allows the vehicle to achieve better fuel efficiency, and usually quieter flow on an open expressway.

When the OD is switched on (please note that when the OD is ON you don‘t see anything about the OD on the dashboard), an automatic transmission (gear) vehicle can ”automatically” shift into Over-Drive mode after a certain speed is reached (say 70 km/h-plus [or 43 mph-plus] depending on the load it‘s carrying).

When the OD is OFF, the automatic transmission (gear) shifting is limited to the lower gears. For an automatic transmission vehicle, it is perfectly always best to let the OD be ON and allow the transmission to systematically control engagement of the OD itself.

It’s very dangerous to have the OD-OFF in an automatic transmission vehicle; this is because when the OD-OFF is on (i.e., when you see the OD-OFF sign on your dashboard), the transmission (gear) system is put under dangerous strain due to the limitation of the transmission reaching the top-most gear level.

Therefore, the next most important question to ask at this juncture is: what turns the OD-OFF sign on in a vehicle‘s dashboard?

Most automatic transmission vehicles‘ gear-sticks have a small seemingly innocuous knob. That knob is many a time mistakenly pressed down by an innocent driver while moving the gear-stick. And, in many instances, the drivers don‘t even know that the knob‘s been wrongly pressed (or, that they have mistakenly activated the OD-OFF functionality, ironically even when the sign visually yells at them from their vehicles‘ dashboards).

When the knob is either deliberately or mistakenly pressed down, the OD-OFF sign comes on the dashboard to ”warn” whoever is driving that vehicle that there‘s a limit to its gear selection range. When a vehicle with that sign is forced to drive on high-speed on a free motorway, it can DESTROY its transmission system.

So, anytime a driver notices the OD-OFF sign on a vehicle‘s instrument cluster (the dashboard), the driver should simply press the small knob on the gear-stick back to its (the knob‘s) highest point. This automatically puts the OD-ON back on WITHOUT ANY SIGN SHOWING ON THE DASHBOARD.

Reactions to Automedics

A POLICE patrol vehicle with plate number DL 168 LSD (CONVOY AREA G PATROL written on it) caused traffic along the Oko-Oba-Abule Egba road just because they wanted to buy corn and immediately after that faced on-coming vehicles from the other side of the road.

Akorede, many thanks for the detailed information. Many Senior Police Officers do read SUNDAY PUNCH and the alleged culprits will get their comeuppance.

I AM an unemployed 2003 graduate of mechanical/production engineering from ESUT, Enugu with no practical experience. I wish to know when you will organise the next seminar and also if there is any way you can come to my aid as I am almost getting confused about life. No company wants to hire anybody without experience and I have been roasting all these while.

Anthony, please send an email with ATTENTION OF MR. GBOLA OBA to automedicsnigerialimited@yahoo.com.

I AM Emma Hanson, an ND holder in business admin and a driver in V/I. I am interested in learning a trade from you. please advise me.

Hanson, please send an email with ATTENTION OF MR. GBOLA OBA to automedicsnigerialimited@yahoo.com.

I AM a DIY man. I will appreciate if you will allow me attend your next workshop.

Engr. Tony Eruteya

Anthony, please send an email with ATTENTION OF MR. GBOLA OBA to automedicsnigerialimited@yahoo.com.

GOOD day, I use a Toyota Camry 96 model (Orobo). There is a sign on my dashboard that looks like a car with light flashing at its rear. Please may I know its meaning?

The light flashing at the rear of the car means one or two light bulbs is not working on rear lights.

GOOD afternoon sir, my name is Adebowale. I trained at the Government Technical College, Ikorodu (motor vehicle mechanics section). I want to start another training package.

Please send an email with ATTENTION OF MR. GBOLA OBA to automedicsnigerialimited@yahoo.com.

DEAR Kunle, I own a Nissan Quest 2005 model and the performance of the engine is superb. But my problem lies in the suspensions of the left sides from the front right to the back.

If you are having suspension problem, your mechanic needs to examine all the necessary parts associated with the suspension, like shock absorber, coil spring, ball joints, lower and upper control arms and bushings. Also make sure the vehicle has never been in an accident.

I‘M Isaac Ikperha; I am interested in your apprenticeship programme.

Please send an email with ATTENTION OF MR. GBOLA OBA to automedicsnigerialimited@yahoo.com.

DEAR Kunle, I drive a Toyota Rav4 2003 model and I have changed my gear box twice since last year. The gear selection will start a fault by having an initial dragging movement when you engage drive and you will need to force the car to move, but when it gets to a higher speed, it selects normally and the reverse moves normal, except the gear one selection. At times it disengages and makes a loud noise to change gears and some days, it works perfectly for day or week before the fault comes again. But when the gear breaks down and I change it, it‘ll work normal a bit and starts later. My mechanic says it‘s brain box, but each time I diagnose the car, no fault reads in the computer (diagnosing machine). Mr. Frank

Please scan this car before you do any other repair, it sounds as if the problem is electronics and might be inside the ECM. If the real fault is not addressed you could be changing transmission all the time. If the right scanner is not used it might not pick up the fault.

MY car with Mazda engine emits bluish smoke when it is being warmed early in the morning. Thereafter no smoke will come out for the rest of the day.

The problem with your car is the valve seals, it needs replacement, the cylinder head will have to be removed to do this job. While at it, make sure the valve seats are resurfaced.

HI Kunle, I had my 1999 Ford Windstar scanned (OBD2); it diagnosed thus: PO340; Crankshaft position; Sensor A circuit (bank 1 or single sensor). Kindly interpret/advise way forward.


You will eventually need to replace the sensor if it is failing, but before you replace the sensor, check it for misalignment, or loose connection.

GOOD day sir. I‘ve just bought a 2004 Toyota Avensis Verso and the brain box light is on. Also, the front tyre seems to be noisy at high speed. Please, direct me to a good mechanics. God bless you.

Gbenga Musa

The light that is on is called (check engine or service engine soon) light. You need to scan it to find out what is wrong. The noise on the tyre is the wheel bearing, which needs to be replaced.

PLEASE my problem is where to locate engine number of Passat car four-cylinder: 1998 model. Please help me on how to locate engine number.

Usually, American spec cars don‘t have engine number (the 17-digit VIN carries all the necessary information the vehicle needs). But since 2008 on some, there‘s a part number stamped on the case at the bottom of the generator pedestal.

DEAR sir, I am an (OND) mechanical technician, I will like to learn how to diagnosis and scan (eobd) and (obd). I will be very grateful if you can assist me.

Please send an email with ATTENTION OF MR. GBOLA OBA to automedicsnigerialimited@yahoo.com.

THANKS for the good work of public enlightenment weekly in SUNDAY PUNCH newspaper. How regularly should one be using octane booster for a car?


It depends on you, how clean you want the engine in your car to run.

I DRIVE a 1998 Honda Accord (V6). I have changed the power steering pump thrice because of stiffness and the problem persists with transmission oil draining to minimum level after two days. What next do I do? Keep up the good work.


If you have replaced the pump thrice, then your mechanic needs to look at the steering rack and pinion, I think that is where your problem is.

I‘M an enthusiast. For close to 35 years I‘ve followed developments in the auto industry. The advent of the analyser seems to tend to confuse me but thanks (to) your collector item (in SUNDAY PUNCH). I‘ m elated. Please send me a complete version as promised to topetubi@yahoo.com.

Thanks for your appreciative mindset. We‘ve sent the full version of Diagnostic Codes Interpretation to your email inbox. Please enjoy it.

I USE a 300SEL Mercedes Benz. My challenge is with the gear box or cover leaking hydraulic oil. Two different mechanics worked on it but couldn‘t fix it. They changed the rubber seal three times but it persisted. In fact, it now spills on the ground when I parked causing tension and apprehension. The gear is OK but its performance is hampered.

I think the problem is from the dip stick pipe. There is an O ring on it. If it is dry and brittle it will normally leak from this point.

I RECENTLY bought a Tokunbo Toyota Corolla 2002 model (American spec); it shows an orange symbol with ‘check‘ written under it. What do I need to do?

Femi, The ”orange symbol with ‘check‘” is the car telling you that it has noticed a slight systemic problem, which may not have fully manifested into a full discernible problem. Scan it ASAP. That is the only way to find out what specifically is going wrong in the car‘s power train (engine and transmission) system.

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