If you have been driving a manual-transmission car all your life, you might need to reorient or re-train some of your reflexes when driving an automatic transmission car. Manual transmission cars require you to shift gears while driving; this needs proper clutch coordination. With automatic cars, you don’t need that. In this article, you will learn how to drive automatic cars.
- Sit in the driver’s seat. Make sure that the seat is high enough for you to see through the windshield while at the same time allow your feet to touch the pedals.
- Buckle up. Driving an automatic car does not automatically save you from injury in case of an accident. Strap your seatbelt on and make sure it is fastened to the buckle securely. If you have passengers, force them to buckle up, as well. Many people think not wearing seatbelts is cool. But, having a broken head is not cool either.
- Check the mirrors. Adjust them if you have to. Make sure that they are clean. Those mirrors—both the side mirrors and the rearview mirror—are your extra pairs of eyes. The side mirrors should enable you to see your car’s back corners. The rearview mirror should enable you to see through the back window.
- Park your car. Before starting the engine, make sure your car is in Park mode. Do this by engaging the parking brake. This is usually indicated with a “P.”
- Step on the brake pedal as you turn the engine on. Different car models will have different ways to start the engine. The most common one—and often the simplest—is by turning the ignition key. Other car models will have a button to turn on engine ignition. Read the car’s service manual to know exactly how to turn your engine on. Keep your brake pedal depressed as you start the engine.
- Shift the gear stick to drive mode. On the base of the gear stick, this is indicated with a circled “D.” Or, if you are backing your car up, shift the gear lever to “R” (which stands for “Reverse”). Use either of the lower gears (either L1 or L2) if you are driving under bad weather (e.g., snow or rain) or if going down a steep slope. For normal driving and for driving up a slope, you can use “D” or Drive mode. Keep your foot on the brake pedal.
- Step on the accelerator. The accelerator is also known as the gas pedal. Slowly press on the gas pedal with your foot. You will notice that your car moves faster as you press deeper on the gas pedal. Use only one foot to operate either the gas or brake pedal. This means you can only use either pedal one at a time.
- Keep in mind other important precautions that apply to driving either automatic or manual transmission cars. For example, keep your hands on the steering wheel. Drive defensively. Use the turn signal properly. Stay within speed limits.
- Stop properly. Slowly press the brake pedal. If you need to slow down, remove your foot from the accelerator and step on the brake pedal slowly until the vehicle stops moving. Move the gear lever to Park mode. Turn off the ignition key.
If you take some time to practice using the tips in this article, you will find out that driving an automatic car is definitely easier than driving one with manual transmission.