How to Drive an Automatic Car
Driving an automatic transmission or AT car is supposedly easier than driving a manual transmission, MT or stick car. However, lack of practice and experience driving an automatic car means the driver can make mistakes that will make controlling the vehicle more complicated than it should be.
To help overcome these potential problems and explain the basics of driving an automatic transmission vehicle, in this oneHOWTO article we will now share some tips on how to drive an automatic car.
Our first recommendation on how to drive an automatic car is to read carefully the instruction manual of your AT car instead of simply assuming you know everything you need to know, as manufacturers often give specific tips on how to do drive that particular model.
There are different types of automatic transmission cars, and maybe yours has some handling specification that will allow you to prolong its road life.
As you know, automatic transmission cars have no clutch pedal. If you were used to driving a manual transmission car, this can be a problem as far as ergonomics are concerned, especially if you spend a lot of time driving every day. You may find yourself looking for the clutch pedal with your foot out of muscle memory.
A good tip on how to drive an automatic car is that, before starting, you should place your left foot on the footrest. This will help you adopt a comfortable position that is not forced. Avoid constantly lifting your foot, because you can provoke muscle aches and cramps.
You already know that in an AT car you only have the accelerator and brake pedals. As it is impossible that you will need the two pedals at the same time, you will use the right foot for both. When driving an automatic car, the driver's left foot always remains at rest.
If your automatic car is stalling, make sure you find the reason behind this as your clutch may be responsible for this issue.
As you will be unable to handle the gears to control the power of the car manually, you may have the feeling that the car is self-driven and, to an extent, out of your control. When you're used to driving manual transmission cars, this can be quite unnerving.
To fix this and feel comfortable driving an automatic car, you should know that you can use the brake pedal of the car to force it into lower gears. An AT car is perfectly prepared to adapt to different driving styles; you should try to overcome this feeling of not having control over the vehicle. One of the best ways to do so is to learn more about your car and understand how it works; take a look at our article on how to understand automatic car gears.
In low-traction situations, you have to know if your AT car has a winter mode or a similar setting so you can drive your automatic appropriately in these conditions. If you're driving an automatic car that does not have this setting, the best option is to drive slowly and always obeying regular traffic guidelines.
As you know, in an automatic car the gear selector has the following positions:
- D (Drive): to start and move.
- P (Parking): to park the car.
- R (Reverse): reverse driving.
- N (Neutral): no gear.
You may have other options on the lever of your automatic car gear selector, which will be marked 1, 2 and 3. These options are intended to be used as low gears for special situations, such as a very high slopes, or in cases where you may require faster than usual acceleration. You do not need to use them to move between positions D and P; in general, these options are not required in normal driving conditions.
To start an automatic car, the position of the lever must be kept in P; some models even block the start of the engine if the gear selector is not in this mode. To start, press on the brake and move the gear selector to D, then very gently release the brake pedal. When making a short stop, like at a traffic light, simply keep the position of the lever on D and the break pedal down. If your battery has suddenly stopped in the middle of the road, it's convenient you know how to jumpstart an automatic car.
These are our most basic tips on how to drive an automatic car; of course, the best way to learn to drive any type of car is through careful practice. We hope this article helped you understand the basics of AT cars, especially if you're changing from a manual to an automatic car.
If you're considering whether you should buy an automatic car or a manual transmission car, it is important to know the differences between the two types. And don't miss our article on how to move an automatic car with a dead battery!
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