Automatic cars are no longer a luxury, but more of a necessity these days, especially with our worsening traffic situation. Thus, it comes as no surprise that automatic car sales have sky-rocketed in the past few years, particularly in Tier-1 cities. However, if you are upgrading from a manual gearbox-equipped car to an automatic one, what should you keep in mind? Here are some tips and tricks.
1. The biggest change is going to be that your left foot is not going to be used. You will only use your right foot to deploy both the brakes and the accelerator. There is no clutch hence no need to use your left foot.
2. An automatic car has four or five modes; ‘P’, ‘R’, ‘N’ and of course ‘D’. Some automatic cars also have an ‘S’ mode, plus an option to shift manually. The car should be in ‘P’ when you start and you put it in ‘P’ always when you park it. The ‘N’ mode is confusing to many as to regarding when to use it. The ‘N’ stands for neutral and is for when you are stopping for a short period of time. It should not be used when you are moving. The ‘D’ is, of course, for drive while ‘R’ is for reverse.
3. Start driving by putting your right foot on the brake and shift to ‘D’ and then lifting your right foot off the brake will mean that the car will ‘creep’ forward. You need not use the accelerator immediately. All automatic cars have this ‘creep’ function.
4. It is advisable to not put the car in ‘N’ mode at the traffic lights and instead use the brakes plus also to leave it in ‘D’. Switching between ‘N’ and ‘D’ constantly puts wear and tear to the gearbox.
5. Never change from drive to reverse without stopping completely as this too will cause big wear and tear to the gearbox.
6. The biggest mistake many commit is to put the car in park mode without coming to a halt completely. This, again, is a big mistake that causes damage.
7. Some cars come with paddle shifters nowadays to change gears manually and while this provision provides instant acceleration, the mileage goes down. Thus, this option should be used only while overtaking and not in all driving scenarios.
8. When you are driving down a slope, never put the car in neutral as it damages the gearbox. It can also be dangerous.
An automatic car is indeed easier to drive over its manual counterpart, but some careful driving and correct techniques applied would mean years of carefree motoring and add years to the life of your car.