Especially for those who are just starting to drive, a vehicle with automatic transmission is often the preferred choice. The reason is simple – it is easier to drive. To add, it is also generally more comfortable, especially for long trips.
However, while driving an automatic transmission is pretty much a straightforward process, this does not mean that you can never go wrong. There are still pitfalls that you should avoid to have a safe driving experience and to save fuel, among others.
In the rest of this post, I will share with you five things you should never do in an automatic transmission vehicle. By knowing these things, you can drive like a pro and avoid committing mistakes that many others have already committed.
Before anything else, watch the short video below, which talks about the things that will be listed in the rest of this post:
1. Coasting Downhill while in Neutral
This is one of the most common mistakes committed by novice drivers. Many people would believe that doing so is best because of fuel economy. Nonetheless, this is actually not the case. When you go downhill for a second and go uphill again, being neutral does not allow you to save your fuel.
However, it is important to note that when you are coasting in neutral, the engine is idling. This is the same state of the engine when it is idling on a road where it is not moving. This means that the amount of gas consumed is basically the same, and hence, you are not saving any fuel.
There are also safety concerns that you should know, which is why you should never put your gear in neutral when you are coasting. You will not gain control of the vehicle in neutral. This means that your reaction time may be lagged. On the other hand, if the gear is on the drive, it will be possible for you to react quickly.
It is also important to take note that there are some states in the US wherein coasting in neutral is considered illegal!
Consider yourself lucky if you are driving a modern automatic vehicle. They are smart enough to automatically cut fuel as you coast downhill, making it efficient.
2. Not Stopping when Changing Directions
Driving can give you an adrenaline rush. It excites the senses; hence, you might feel like a race car driver, and the road is your track. You might suddenly change your direction to the point that you forget to stop. When you are driving an automatic transmission, this is one thing that you should never do.
You must take the time to come to a complete stop before you change from drive to reverse or vice versa. This is because to halt the vehicle, you are not using the transmission. Rather, you are using the brakes. Let the brakes do the job to stop your car, as this is not a function of the transmission.
3. Launching your Car
In case it is your first time hearing the word, launching is a term that refers to the sudden acceleration of your car while it is neutral. This is similar to what is done in drag racing. To launch a car, you rev the engine while it is in neutral gear and change to drive when it is time to move forward.
You should avoid launching when driving an automatic transmission car because it speeds up the wear and tear of the major components. They may be complicated to repair, and worse, they are also expensive. It can cause slippage of clutches. More so, it can also put you in danger, so just stay away from launching. You are not yet a professional racer and your vehicle cannot handle it!
Your physics knowledge will help you understand why launches are never good for an automatic transmission. When launching, you are basically exerting more effort on the transmission. This creates friction and will negatively affect the belt and gears.
4. Putting your Car in Neutral when at a Stoplight
When at a stop light, most drivers of automatic transmission cars might think that the best thing to do is to put the gear in neutral. You most probably think that this will put less stress on your transmission. Plus, you are at a stop anyway, so why would you push the pedal? Yes, the transmission might be experiencing stress, but this does not give you enough reason to be neutral.
There is also a myth that putting the gear at neutral at a stoplight will help to save fuel. I am sorry to burst your bubble, but there is definitely no truth to such a claim.
In fact, putting your car in neutral can lead to damage to the transmission, making it easily prone to wear and tear. When the light turns green, you might end up forgetting that your gear is still in neutral. You will rev your engine, but the car will not move, and in turn, more friction will be created while also wasting fuel.
5. Gearing to Park Even if You have not Completely Stopped
The last thing you should never do when driving an automatic transmission is to shift your gear to park, even if you have not yet fully stopped the car. You do not have to be in a hurry.
You have to understand the construction of the transmission to realize why you should never do this. It comes with a locking pin. Essentially, the locking pin is a component with the primary function of securing the transmission. It halts the vehicle’s rotation, preventing it from making any movement. If you shift to park in an instant without stopping, there is a risk that the locking pin will break.
If you are driving a car with an automatic transmission, at this point, I hope that you already have a clear understanding of some of the things that you should never do. For your safety, to prolong the functional life of your car’s components, and for fuel economy, be sure to keep in mind the things mentioned above.
To recap, you should not shift to neutral when coasting, do not change directions without stopping, do not launch, do not go to neutral when in front of a stoplight, and do not immediately shift to park unless the car has reached a full stop.
Do you drive an automatic transmission car? Are there other driving tips that you would like to add? Leave a comment below.