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How to Operate Automatic Transmission Car


In an automatic transmission car the gear change is made automatically, hence there is no clutch or gear stick. When the transmission is put into Drive (D) the car will automatically select the correct gear according to the load on the engine and the road speed. Usually, an automatic will change to a higher gear as the road speed increase, and to a lower gear as it falls.

The Gear Selector

Nearly all automatic have a gear selector, which will usually include:

P – (park) this locks the transmission and should only be selected when the vehicle is stationary.
Use this position when the vehicle is parked or when starting the engine. Use this position together with the parking brake. When parking on a hill, first apply the parking brake and then shift into the “P” position. (Caution: Use this position only when the vehicle is completely stopped).

Automatic Transmission

R – (reverse)
use this position to back up. Shift into this position only after the vehicle has completely stopped.

N – (neutral) this is the same as neutral on a manual gearbox.
Neither forward nor reverse gear is engaged. The engine can be started in this position.

D – (drive) select when driving forward.
Use this position for all normal forward driving.

2 – (second gear),(D2)
Use this position for hill climbing, engine braking on downhill grades, or starting on slippery roads. (Caution: Do not downshift into the “2 (D2)” position other than the speed mentioned in the owners manual. Downshifting under high speed may cause severe damages to automatic transmission and engine).

1 (first Gear), (D1)
Use this position when climbing steep hills slowly or driving slowly through deep snow, sand or mud, or for maximum engine braking on steep downhill grades. (Caution: Do not downshift into the “1 (D1)” position other than the speed mentioned in the owners manual. Downshifting under high speed may cause severe damages to automatic transmission and engine).

Accelerator Downshift In “D” Position:
For rapid passing, fully depress the accelerator pedal; this shifts the transmission down into third gear, second gear or first gear, depending on the vehicle speed.

One must Know Driving precaution:

  • Never shift to “P” or “R” while the vehicle is moving.
  • Start the engine in the “P” or “N” position. Engine will not start in any other selector position. If it does, get your vehicle checked by your nearest authorized dealer for inspection, driving car under this state may led to an accident.
  • Shift into “N” position and apply the parking brake when at a standstill for longer than a short waiting period.
  • Keep the engine at idling speed while shifting from “N” to any driving position.

Caution (When starting vehicle) :

  • Depress The Foot Brake Pedal :

Shifting the selector lever to “D”, “R”, “2 (D2)” or “1 (D1)” without depressing the brake pedal causes the vehicle to move slowly when the engine is running. Be sure the brake pedal is depressed fully and the vehicle is stopped before shifting the selector lever.

  • Make Sure Of The Selector Lever Position:

Make sure the selector lever is in the desired position. “D”, “1 (D1)”, “2 (D2)” are used to move forward and “R” to back-up. Then release the parking brake lever and foot brake pedal. Depress the accelerator pedal to start the vehicle. Avoid racing up the engine while the vehicle is stopped. This may cause unexpected vehicle movement if the selector lever is in “D”, “R”, “2 (D2)” or “1 (D1)” or damage the engine if in “N” or “P”.

  • Engine Warm Up:

Due to the higher engine RPM / idle speed when the engine is cold, extra caution must be exercised when shifting the selector lever into the driving immediately after starting the engine in cold position.

  • Parking The Vehicle:

Depress the foot brake pedal and, once the vehicle stops, move the shift selector into park position, pull the parking brake lever and release the foot brake pedal.

This automatic transmission is designed so that the foot brake pedal MUST be depressed before shifting from “P” to any other position while the ignition switch is “ON”.

The engine brake is less effective on an automatic, especially if engine tick over is set too fast.


Automatics are deliberately designed to ‘creep’ forward without any pressure being applied to the accelerator pedal. Because of this, when stationary with the engine ticking over, you must engage the brake pedal or the handbrake.


When driving an automatic, if you need to suddenly accelerate more quickly, for example when overtaking another vehicle, you can use the kick-down device. This feature allows you to over-ride the automatic selection of gears and forces the transmission to stay in lower gears for longer. This gives you a higher degree of acceleration than normal.

To activate kick-down you simply press down hard on the accelerator pedal and keep it fully pressed down until you reach your desired speed. When you reach this speed, ease back off the accelerator and the car will automatically return to normal drive and select the most appropriate gear.

Slowing Down and Stopping

This is easier in an automatic than a manual car. However, you must remember that an automatic gear box does not respond as quickly as manual to easing off the gas, so the ability of the engine brake to slow the car is severely reduced.

To slow down, transfer your right foot from the accelerator pedal to the brake pedal. Because of the reduced engine braking, you must brake sooner and more progressively than in a manual car. The transmission will automatically work its way down the gears as you slow down, so you are always in the correct gear. This is a great help at junctions and any other situation where you need to slow down, as it allows you to focus on observations and safety rather than changing gear.

When the car comes to a stop, to avoid creep, you must keep your foot on the brake, and remember, the car will not stall, even if you stop suddenly.

Parking and Waiting

As a rule, you should always apply the handbrake whenever waiting in traffic. If, you only need to pause, you should apply the foot brake.

When parking, you should apply the handbrake and then select the Park position on the gear selector, all before releasing the foot brake. Just before you drive away you should apply the foot brake, release the hand brake and then select Drive.

Hill Starts

On steep hills creep may be insufficient to get you moving after you release the foot brake. Some automatics have a feature that will prevent roll back, but if yours doesn’t, you should use the following routine.

With the handbrake on, very gently apply a little pressure to the gas pedal. You will feel the nose of the car rise slightly. Release the handbrake and let the car creep forwards a little before gently pressing down on the accelerator.

Driving Downhill

To help control the speed of the car, and to save you having to brake excessively, when driving down hill you should select one of the locked gear positions, either 1, 2 or 3. This will keep the car in the selected low gear and stop the automatic transmission selecting a high gear, which will help increase your speed.


Automatics sometimes change up as you approach a corner due to reduced pressure on the accelerator, which could cause you to take the corner faster than you had intended. To avoid this, slow down before you reach the corner then accelerate gently as you start to turn. This will encourage the automatic gearbox to select a lower gear for the corner.

On roads with a series of bends, you can select the 3rd locked gear position to prevent the gearbox from selecting higher gears.

Driving In Snow and Ice

To help avoid wheel-spin when driving on slippery roads, it helps to select a higher gear. Some automatics have a setting for such conditions, which you can select manually, but if yours doesn’t you can select locked positions 2 or 3 to help give you more traction when moving off or going slowly.


Because ‘creep’ will move the car automatically and slowly, it is likely that you will not need to touch the accelerator pedal when manoeuvring at slow speed.

If manoeuvring on a hill you may find a little gas will be needed in order to keep the car moving. In such situations it is OK to use your left foot to brake at the same time as holding the accelerator pedal with your right foot. This is the only time you should use your left foot to brake, however.
Most automatics allow you to manually select low gears. These will be marked on the gearshift as numbers equivalent to the gears on a manual, although you may find first gear is marked L for Low.

These low gears are useful in slow moving traffic and when you need to make use of the engine brake, such as when driving down a steep hill.

On finishing your journey and stopping the car always put the gear shift into Park and engage the parking brake before switching off the engine.

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