Driving an automatic

Previously, we gave you a list of things that you shouldn’t do while driving a manual. However, if you prefer or own an automatic, here are 5 tips that you should be aware of while driving on the road.

Engaging P before coming to a complete stop

When driving an automatic, always remember that you should engage the gear stick to P (Park) only when your vehicle comes to a complete stop. The reason for this is that, when you engage the gear stick to P while the vehicle is still in motion, the parking pawl could get damaged. The component locks up the automatic transmission. It essentially stops the transmission from rotating which prevents the vehicle from moving forward or backward.  

Moreover, it’s not advisable to place the gear stick to P at a stoplight for safety reasons. Look at it this way, if the light turns green, shifting the lever from P to D (Drive) requires effort. You have to go through R (reverse) and N (Neutral) before you can place the gear stick to D. You might also accidentally engage the gear lever to either R or N when shifting from P to D. 

Going 'neutral' at stop lights

Some experts say that you shouldn't put your car in 'drive' at a stoplight because this can wear out the transmission. They may have a point but, the way we see it, it’s best if you keep the gear in D. Why? Because you might forget that the gear is in N when the light turns green. As a result, you’ll end up revving the engine to no avail, costing you more fuel. There is also a chance that your engine will get a little too rev-happy as you press on the accelerator while in neutral. Then in the heat of panic, you end up shifting into D, causing your car to lurch forward. 

Changing gears while the vehicle is moving

Some drivers who are parking their vehicles tend to change gears even while it's still in motion. Switching gears while the vehicle is moving is a habit that you should break because this can damage the vehicle’s transmission. If you want to shift from D to R or vice versa, you should wait for the vehicle to stop moving before doing so.

Coasting in neutral

They say that coasting in neutral can help you save fuel. While that may be correct, coasting in neutral is something that you should not do. The reason for this is that you’re not in full control of the vehicle. Same with driving a manual, you can react faster and safer if your gear stick is in D. On the other hand, modern automatic engines are designed to be fuel-efficient even if the gear is in D.

Launching your car

In a nutshell, ‘launching’ is accelerating a vehicle from a standstill, similar to drag racing. This works by revving your engine while the gear is in N and dropping it into D to launch the vehicle forward. While this may amuse your friends, launching an automatic car is not a good thing because this will wear out the bands in your transmission.

Driving an automatic may be straightforward but you should also be aware of how you drive. We hope that the points mentioned in this article would help you become a better and safer driver.

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