Driving a car with automatic transmission requires a small process of adaptation, do you know how to use it correctly and the care you need?

How to drive a car with automatic transmission

How to drive an automatic car

Although the vast majority of passenger cars marketed in Europe still have access to manual gearbox, it is true that more and more customers are opting for automatic transmissions . And it's quite logical, because an automatic car is always more comfortable and simple to drive .

However, the novelty and the fact of facing something we are not used to It always scares us. If we have always driven cars with manual transmission, it is normal that we have some fear of taking an automatic one. Do not worry, it is very easy. In this article we are going to give you the keys on how to drive an automatic car

Main differences between automatic and manual cars

Audi A3 automatic gear selector

The first thing we should recognize is the main differences between a car with manual and automatic change in terms of driving controls . Easy and simple. Instead of having three pedals, we have two, so the clutch pedal is suppressed . In addition, as a general rule, the brake pedal increases its surface area.

For its part, the shift lever also changes its design and, in some cases, even its location. Instead of having the traditional lever, we usually have a larger lever. Of course, this is already in the hands of designers of the company because being an element that is used much less than in manual cars, do not need to be so ergonomic.

I invite you to take a look at this other article where I tell you the main advantages of automatic gearboxes and why it surprises me so much that we buy more automatic cars in Europe.
Mercedes automatic gear lever

Some Toyota models (in the image header of the selector of the change of a Toyota Prius), for example, have greatly reduced its size. In Mercedes it is customary for the automatics to have the gear lever as a satellite control of the steering wheel, which is left in the right hand, where the windshield wiper controls are usually. In the case of Mercedes we need a little more time to adapt to this unnatural location for Europeans. Other cars such as the Alfa Romeo 4C, instead of a lever, have "keys" in the center console to select the operation of the transmission.

What is the use of each? position of the shift lever

In the selector levers of the automatic change , depending on the make, the model and the mechanical version, we can find different positions . The most common are the following:

Positions of the automatic change of a Hyundai Ioniq
  • P : The "P" position means " Parking ". The transmission is blocked and we must select that position of the gear lever when we park our vehicle. We can only activate it with the car stopped, pressing the brake pedal and also the safety button of the lever itself. Although the car will not be able to move, it is important to activate the parking brake so that the transmission locking ratchet does not suffer.Likewise, we can only move the lever to "R" with the vehicle fully stopped, pressing the brake pedal and the safety button of the gear lever. If we release the brake pedal, the vehicle will begin to move backwards at low speed, as if we were with gear engaged and half-clutch in a manual transmission car.
  • N : The "N" means "neutral", that is, dead center . The transmission is uncoupled from the engine and, therefore, even if we accelerate, the vehicle will not move even though the thermal engine will rise in turns. Normally, although it depends on each vehicle, to go from "R" to "N" we will have to step on the brake and safety button of the lever. However, from "N" to "D", and from "D" to "N", it is not usually necessary to use this lever trigger.
  • D : position "D" is the one we use for the engine and the automatic transmission to be coupled, that is, to move forward under normal conditions. It means "drive." If we release the brake pedal, the vehicle will begin to move at low speed, as if we were in first and half a clutch on a manual transmission car.
  • S : Many automatic cars , in addition to the "D" position, they also have the "S". It means " Sport ", and it serves to offer a more dynamic behavior. The transmission lengthens more the gears to offer a more instantaneous and powerful response to the demands of the accelerator. It also reduces gears before, thus seeking to maintain the highest engine revolutions. You can switch from "D" to "S" and vice versa without pressing the brake or safety button on the lever.
  • 1, 2 and/or 3 : Although they are less common, in some automatic vehicles we still see the numbers "1", "2" and/or "3"; especially in older cars. These positions serve to circulate at low and medium speed, when we do not want the transmission to increase many gears reducing the engine rpm. Its operation is mainly oriented to circulate on mountain roads , where we will not go at high speed and we are interested in maintaining a high turnaround regime to have more response.
  • B : It is also not very widespread, but some brands like Toyota, in its hybrid models, do have this "B" position. It is an automatic gearbox mode that offers a greater retention when we stop accelerating, thus relieving the work of the brake system. In Toyota hybrids, in addition to preventing the car from significantly increasing its speed on downward slopes, it also helps to recover electrical energy for the batteries.
  • M : The "M" position "Means manual . We will be those who say to the transmission at what time you must raise or reduce gears from the selector lever itself, usually with longitudinal touches on it, or from the steering wheel paddles. In any case, the electronics will always try to protect the engine if we order, for example, to go down to second gear while driving at a very high speed.There are some that are small and rotate in solidarity at the wheel, while others are larger and fixed, being always in the same position although we turn the direction. Simply, with the left cam we reduce marches and with the right we go up. To me, personally, I like them more than they are fixed and of big size , although many prefer those that turn with the steering wheel even if they are somewhat smaller.

    Basic advice when driving for the first time an automatic car

    How to drive an automatic car

    The first and most important of what we should mentalizing ourselves is that we do not have a clutch pedal. That is why we always remember that the left foot should be at all times in the footrest , that is, we will not use it for absolutely nothing.

    If we get distracted and we look for the clutch while driving, it is more than likely that we step on the brake pedal , with what that means. A sudden dry braking that, in addition to scare you and your companions, can generate a serious situation of danger. Believe me, it's not nice at all. Your heart rate will trigger, because the car will be stuck without you expecting it.

    If this is your first time with an automatic car, you can fall into the error of thinking that, having only two pedals, you will use the right to accelerate and the left to brake. No. Use the right foot to accelerate as well as to brake . The reason is simple: the sensibility that we have gained with the right foot - let's be left-handed or right-handed - driving manual cars is not comparable with the one on the left foot. So, as I was saying, forget about using your left foot.

    Toyota Yaris hybrid automatic change

    The best thing you can do before going out on the open road (or the urban jungle) with an automatic car is practice in a clear place ; without traffic and without dangers. After a few minutes you will see that it is very simple and that it has no mystery, checking the reactions of the car when accelerating and how it starts by itself and very smoothly the displacement both in position "R" and in "D" "When releasing the brake pedal.

    Otherwise, there is not much difference with respect to a model with manual transmission . In current models, the performance of a single motor hardly change from one variant with manual to another automatic, as well as consumption. As you will notice, an automatic car is much more practical and comfortable , although it is also true that, if you like to drive, it may be something more boring .

    Never forget to put the parking brake in addition to the "P" position when parking, or look for the clutch pedal or think about braking with the left foot.

    How to take care of the automatic change of the car

    How to take care of an automatic gearbox

    As with any mechanical system of the car, you also have to have a series of precautions to avoid breaking or creating premature wear in the automatic gearbox .If you do it in motion, the gearbox would suffer a very aggressive shake that could destroy it.

    Take care of the position P

    We must have great care when setting and removing the gear lever from the "P" position , from Parking. As I said before, a ratchet blocks the transmission as if in a car with a manual transmission we left the first one stuck with the engine off. Like, in the manual car we also put the parking brake, with the automatic we must do it exactly.

    Ideally, when we are going to stop the vehicle, with the foot brake depressed activate the parking brake and then put the lever in position "P". We can release the foot brake. When we start, when we start the march, we do the same, but in reverse. That is, we step on the brake, start the engine, put the change in D, release the parking brake and then start the march.

    We should never let the car rest in position "P" without have activated the parking brake before . If we do, we can damage that transmission blockage, because all this element would support the entire weight of the vehicle. You have to take it even more into account if we are on a slope.

    Put "N" in long stops or retentions

    When we stop At a traffic light it is not necessary to go from "D" to "N", because we are going to be standing only a few seconds. However, if we are going to stop for several minutes with the engine running or if, for example, we are in a long retention, it is better to pass the transmission to neutral . This will prevent possible overheating, especially in torque converter gearboxes.

    Subaru XV automatic change

    Avoid keeping the car on a hill with the accelerator

    Eye with the slopes. In the same way that in a manual car you would not think of being several seconds keeping the vehicle stopped playing with the clutch and the accelerator in a slope (because you would burn the clutch in the twinkling of an eye), neither do it with an automatic transmission . You will cause internal overheating of the box and wear that you can save simply by keeping the car stopped with the brake pedal, which is what it is for.

    Towing or push

    Although it may seem silly, it is more common than we think that a user breaks the automatic gearbox of your car by trying to push or tow it. In a manual car it is as simple as to put the gear lever in position "N", but this is not always so easy in an automatic model that has broken down or simply has run out of battery . As there are several ways depending on the models, read the manufacturer's manual to learn how to put a neutral and tow your car.

    Maintenance and oil changes

    Depending on the type of automatic gearbox and each version, some will have oil lubrication. It is vital for the box to perform the maintenance stipulated by the manufacturer , without letting it "expire". A past oil (either for miles or time) will not effectively lubricate the internal components and, therefore, will end up creating fatal wear. Therefore, do not skimp when it comes to using a good oil and respect the deadlines indicated.

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