Auto Transmission Basics: How to Use the Gears Correctly
Cruising in an automatic car is such a breeze yet it’s surprising how many of us don’t know how to use the gears correctly! Here’s a quick run-through of the rudiments so you won’t risk damaging your gearbox.
Most automatic cars have three-speed transmissions and Overdrive is the fourth and highest speed. So if you’re driving with the 0/D button off, your car can only shift up to third gear. The 0/D should always be on in normal driving conditions because it lets the engine pick up slowly to give better fuel efficiency, putting less wear on the engine. There are situations that require you to switch off the O/D such as:
When driving up a shallow hill. Due to the incline, the transmission goes back and forth between third and overdrive to find the suitable gear to be in.
When overtaking another car on the highway. By forcing the transmission into third gear, it gives your engine more torque and therefore, able to accelerate fast enough to overtake the other car.
- 2 – Typically, second gear is used when the third gear fails to provide enough climbing power when going uphill. Second gear is also for when you need more traction to avoid spinning your wheels on muddy roads.
- L – This refers to first gear and most car manuals tell you to use this gear when going downhill on a steep slope. Why? On this gear you slow down the car using engine braking which holds back the car to let it roll down at a safe speed. This prevents the brakes from burning, from prolonged heat as a result of constantly stepping on the brakes.