Learn How to Drive an Automatic Car – Wheelsonspin
Automatic Car How to drive

Learn How to Drive an Automatic Car

driving an automatic car

 If you have a manual license, you can legally rent and drive an automatic car, although allowing the car to handle the gears might take some time to get used to it. Discover tips on how to drive an automatic car. Automatic cars are easier to drive compared to manual cars. As the name indicates, they do a lot of work for you. So, it is not surprising that those who have a manual driving license can also hire and drive automatic cars, but not vice versa.

Do you find driving an automatic car too difficult? It is simple…. Check out how to drive an automatic car in no time.

Before you start

Most of the automatic gearboxes will let you choose “p” for parking, “R” for reverse, “N” for neutral, and “D” for driving.

Park- should be used when you stop and get out of the car. This ‘locks’ the transmission, avoiding it from rolling away.

Reverse- acts similarly like a reverse gear in a manual and should be chosen when you want to go backward.

Neutral- It is the same as knocking a manual gearbox out of the gear. It should not be chosen while moving-this is called coasting- but can be used if you are stopped for a short time.

Drive- will choose gears automatically and let the car move forward.

Some automatic gearboxes will also provide you the option to choose first or second gear.

This will help in situations where you want to make use of the gearbox to reduce your speed- like driving down a hill.

Having this choice also helps stop the wheels from spinning while pulling away in specific situations.

For example, while moving off in icy or snowy conditions it is at times suggested to pull away in second gear to stop the wheels from slipping if it is specifically snowy- some automatic cars have a dedicated “winter mode” that takes care of this.

The fact that a selector or lever takes the place of a gearstick in an automatic car means that there are just 2 pedals: the accelerator and brake. You will not find a clutch pedal in an automatic car.

Be careful not to press down on the brake pedal the way you would use the clutch pedal in a manual car. This may lead to an improper emergency stop.

How to Drive an Automatic Car

In a simple language, driving an automatic car or van means placing your left foot on the floor and then forgetting about it. Then, using your right foot apply the brake and then accelerate.

To start driving, you must put your right foot on the brake, move the gear lever to “Drive” if you want to move your car forward or “Reverse” if you want to move your car “backward.”

Then, ease your foot from the brake at the same time when you release the handbrake, and the car will start to move slowly. This is known as “creep” and can be used to move your car in confined areas like car parking or a slow-moving traffic area. This is a deliberate design feature whereas you can balance the clutch and throttle in a manual car to adjust the speed whenever you want to drive slowly, you cannot do the same in an automatic car because it does not have a clutch pedal.  The capability to creep along like this lets you have full control, albeit at a low level.

If you want to move your car faster, then you just move your foot across the accelerator pedal and press it gently. The car will move forward at a faster rate and you can control your speed using your right foot on either the brake pedal or accelerator, based on what you want your car to do.

Congratulations. You can now drive a car that comes with an automatic gearbox.

Tips for Driving an automatic car

If you want to learn how to drive an automatic car, then here are a few tips that will help you.

Forget about the clutch pedal- Automatic cars do have gears, but an automatic car handles most of the gear changes itself. That is why there is no clutch pedal- only the accelerator and the brake. Any car, whether manual or automatic, will be upset if you press two pedals together So, a lot of “manual” drivers tuck their left foot behind their right foot while they are driving an automatic car. Just in case they forget there is no clutch on the left side.

Get used to the gearstick- Before you start the vehicle, take some time to make yourself comfortable with the gearstick. You must use it occasionally, but if you need to reverse in a hurry, you will be glad that you did this. You will not use the gearstick much in an automatic car- but when you do shift gear, hold the brake down.

Generally, an automatic gear car has 4 gears:

  1. P-Park. This is neutral with the gears locked so that the wheels cannot move. It is always good to ensure that you are in Park gear before you start the vehicle- and back in Park before you switch off the engine.
  2. R-Reverse.  This gear is used for going backward.
  3. N-Neutral. Want to stop the car in the middle of traffic? Most of the automatic car drivers will put the car in “Neutral” gear. As far as a manual car is concerned, it is better to use a handbrake or brake to make sure your car does not move.
  4. D- Drive.  The gear is used for moving forward. When you are moving fast enough, the car will switch to second gear automatically, then third, and then so on.

Some automatic cars have other additional settings on the gearstick too. For instance,

  • Stay in first gear (apt for hills)
  • Stay in low gear (1 or 2)
  • Sports (improved acceleration)

You must be all set to “creep”- An automatic car will move slowly forward if you are in “Drive” or any other forward gear. If you are using a “Reverse” gear, it will slowly move backward. This is known as “creeping” and it makes it simple to keep your right foot on the brake when you are parking or driving in slow-moving traffic. You can choose “Neutral” or choose the handbrake to ensure that you do not move when you do not want to.

Drive slowly and look around before turning- As you are learning how to drive an automatic car, you should drive slower than other automatic car drivers, who may be experts in driving. As an automatic car has fewer gears compared to a manual car, you will feel a bit confused initially. Therefore, first, you should drive slowly to make yourself comfortable with the gears. The “Drive” gear also helps you to drive at a fast speed. However, this is not suggested for beginners. You must have the basic driving skills before you can speed up like an expert. If you want to increase your speed, then you must drive on clearer roads.

The city roads are usually congested during the day or night. Thus, it will be wrong to start driving at a great speed at the initial stage only. Even if the neutral gear helps you to stop your vehicle smoothly, you might not be able to handle the turns at high speed. Your car may skid which may cause an accident. To avoid that always be careful of the sharp turns around you and drive slowly, until you are confident in using all the four gears of an automatic car. Here are a few mistakes to avoid while driving an automatic gear car.

  • Do not shift from “Drive” gear to “Reverse” gear before your car stops moving
  • Never put your vehicle in “Park” mode before it is stopped completely
  • Never start an automatic car from a standstill

Practice- Ultimately, it is better to practice somewhere out of the way before you start driving on busy roads. It should not take long to get used to keeping your hand off the gearstick and your left foot away. And obviously, renting an automatic car is a great way to find out whether you are comfortable driving one without buying one. Who knows? After some days you might not want to drive a manual car ever.

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