How to drive an automatic car and enjoy a more comfortable and safer driving experience

Do you know how automatic cars drive? Do you know the difference between automatic and manual cars? Stay tuned because it is very interesting to know the characteristics.

Automatic cars have more and more followers in Spain. If until a few years ago there was hardly any interest in this type of transmissions, nowadays the percentage of sales is already important. And that is because automatic transmissions have evolved a lot: they work much more quickly and smoothly, without jerking, they have reduced their influence on consumption – and some of them are even lower than the equivalent manual version – and they are much more fun to drive if they have sequential gearboxes and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

The drawback is still the price, as automatic cars are usually more expensive than the manual version, but for the comfort and safety they offer, it can be worth spending a little more. So much so that more and more drivers, once they try an automatic, do not return to the manual, especially if they make many urban journeys and roads with traffic jams.

In case you are curious and have in mind to drive or buy a car with automatic transmission, it is important to take into account some considerations.

How to drive an automatic car

Driving an automatic car is simple. You don’t have to press any clutch at the same time you change gear, you only have to worry about braking or accelerating. But this simplicity can work against you if you’ve never driven an automatic car before. Here are the keys:

The first thing is to correctly adjust the position of the seat and steering wheel. Remember that both arms and legs must be slightly bent.

Check that you reach the pedals correctly by pressing the brake pedal all the way down. In the following link you have all the tips for a correct posture at the wheel.

An automatic car has only two pedals, the brake pedal on the left and the accelerator pedal on the right. As there is no clutch (located on the left in a car with manual gearbox) it is easy to confuse the pedals and brake with the left foot instinctively because you want to change gear, a very common mistake. To avoid this, what you have to do is forget about your left foot. Leave it resting on its footrest and only use your right foot for both braking and accelerating.

Learn the gearshift lever positions. Although the operation of an automatic transmission is similar from one model to another, its presentation and handling vary from brand to brand. Generally, they have four positions: Park (P), Neutral (N), Drive (D) and Reverse (R).

On some models the P position is engaged by pressing a button and also requires you to step on the brake pedal to move from P to a drive position, either to initiate forward (D) or reverse (R). The reason for this is to ensure safety and prevent unintentional movement of the car. Some models also have a Sport position (S) for sportier driving, and even a position (W) for driving on slippery or low-grip road surfaces.

We start off with an automatic car, what should I bear in mind?

Once we have familiarized ourselves with the pedals and the gear lever, it is time to start driving and enjoy driving an automatic car. Its main feature is that the vehicle chooses the type of gear depending on the speed at which we drive and the power we demand when we press the accelerator pedal. In general, these changes are usually conservative and lengthen the gears for a more efficient driving.

If you prefer a more dynamic driving, some models have a sequential or manual mode, which allows you to move the lever forward to upshift or backward to downshift, according to your tastes and needs. And even a Sport mode that prioritizes faster and shorter gears. This type of driving can also be done when the car includes steering wheel paddles.

When driving an automatic car you should also take into account:

  • Moving from position P to D or D to R can only be done when stationary.
  • If you need your automatic car to be towed, you must turn off the engine and place the lever in position N. If you move it with the lever in another position, you run the risk of serious damage to the transmission.
  • If you are going to stop or park the car, first activate the parking brake and then move the gearshift lever to position P. If you do not do this, and first activate the P position of the gearshift, you are unloading a lot of weight on the transmission and it may suffer damage.
  • The automatic transmission uses a specific fluid for good lubrication. Respect the maintenance intervals to avoid unnecessary breakdowns.
  • If you are going to wash the car in a car wash, put the gearshift in position N, without turning off the engine, so that the car can move along the rails of the tunnel.

If we come from a car with a manual gearbox, it is normal that to drive an automatic car we need some time to adapt, but with these keys that we have given you, you will soon enjoy the advantages and safety of driving an automatic car. By only having to worry about accelerating and braking, you will be much more attentive to driving. And if you still have any doubts, or want to improve your driving safety, you can always take a driving course.

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