Car manufacturers over the years continue to develop technology to ensure a smooth ride for their customers. From the ease of driving with the power steering to safety measures like ABS (Anti Lock Braking System), one of the more common features we see vehicle manufacturers offer is the Automatic gearbox. Much like its predecessor the car still uses gears to move but instead of you doing it manually, the car does it for you.
If you are a manual car driver looking to move to an automatic vehicle or are already an owner, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind before you drive off!
1. Don’t forget – There is NO clutch pedal!
As we mentioned automatic vehicles have gears too, but your car does all the shifting for you. Thus getting rid of the clutch pedal completely leaving you with just the accelerator and the brake pedal to use.
It can get confusing if you’re used to driving with three pedals over the years and can take some getting used to. Just remember to use the right foot for your accelerator and brake pedal and keep your left foot idle at all times.
2. Do memorise the Gear Stick/Shifter
Traditionally the gear shifter would normally have numbers and letters to indicate the desired gear movements. Automatic vehicles have a more linear gear stick.
It has four primary gear functions they are as follows,
- Park (P): Park is just like neutral with the gears locked in place so the vehicle doesn’t move. It’s good practice to ensure the vehicle is in (P) mode before you start the vehicle and before you shut off the engine.
- Reverse (R): Just as in a manual gearbox the (R) model is to move backward, well nothing new here.
- Neutral (N): As a practice with manual vehicles, whenever the car is halted for a short while like a traffic stop, we put the vehicle in neutral or (N) in automatic cars to take the pressure off the engine and let the vehicle idle for a few seconds. It’s a good practice to use the hand brake to ensure your vehicle doesn’t roll forward or backward.
- Drive (D): The (D) mode is to move forward, don’t worry about the gears, the vehicle will move up or down the gears automatically based on your speed.
3. Don’t forget the Creep!
Automatic vehicles will ever so slowly move forward in (D) mode and backward in (R) mode without any acceleration input from you. This happens at idle speed and is often called ‘Creeping’. It is best to keep your right foot on the brake pedal when you need the vehicle to be at standstill to ensure the car doesn’t creep in either direction.
4. Do practice in a safe environment
Finally, it is always a great idea to practice your driving skills in a safe environment before you move onto the busy roads. While it can take a few days to get used to the idle left and left foot, we can assure you that driving an automatic car can be a lot easier than driving a manual gearbox.
For quite a few people driving an automatic vehicle doesn’t replicate the true feel of driving a vehicle, we have found that driving an automatic vehicle is a lot easier to drive as they need less input from us constantly. In troubling situations like heavy highway traffic, the automatic geared vehicles are a boon and save your hands and legs from the constant gear shifts. Once you move to the comforts of an automatic car, you may not always want to go back to driving a manual ever again.