Driving Tips: Five things you shouldn’t do while driving an automatic

With an increase in number of automatic gearbox equipped vehicles available on sale in the country, it makes all the sense to talk about them. Like we did in case of the manual gearbox versions, we look at five things you should avoid while driving an automatic.

Read more: Five things you shouldn’t do while driving a manual

Don’t forget to watch the full video with a brilliant explanation of the mentioned points after the article, courtesy of Engineering Explained.

So here goes, five things you shouldn’t do:

Coast in neutral


There’s a tendency of drivers to switch to neutral ’N’ in order to maybe save fuel. However more than anything this is a potential hazard, as it takes away control from the driver. When switched to neutral, the driver loses the ability to accelerate. Now that can be as dangerous as making the car unable to avert obstacles, losing the ability to go uphill, etc.

Change from D to R (or vice-versa) while in motion


In automatic gearboxes, when one shifts gears, the mechanism makes use of a transmission band and clutches for shifting. If the direction of motion is switched (from ‘D’ to ‘R’ or vice versa) it has to be done after coming to a complete halt. Failing to do so means the said transmission band undergoes unnecessary wear and tear.

Launch control

Tachometer Flames

Unlike manual gearboxes that let you take control of launching the car — accelerating from standstill — the auto ‘boxes offer things like launch control. Some drivers cause harm to the engine and the gearbox by building up the revs in neutral, and switching to drive ‘D’. That not just makes the launch jerky, it also adds to mechanical wear and tear.

While launching a car has its effect on the components, if you have to do it then might as well do it the right way. And the right way is to keep the car in Drive, depress the brake pedal, build revs and when you’re ready to launch, lift off the brake pedal — like you would with the clutch in a manual.

‘P’ without coming to a halt

Mahindra Scorpio Automatic 2

The ‘P’ mode on the gearbox brings the transmission to parking mode, hence disabling the ability of the car to move forward/backward. The mechanism behind this is that once the gear shifter is slotted in ‘P’, the ‘box uses a parking pawl to stop the cog from rotating.

If done on the move not only will it damage the transmission, it will also bring the car to a sudden halt. Also, since you’re not stopping the wheels but the engine, it’s going to be less effective (and more harmful) than using ‘P’ instead of brakes. Do not!

Neutral at traffic lights

Ford Figo interior automatic

This is, of course, not as lethal, but is still a mistake. Drivers have a tendency to switch to neutral while waiting at traffic lights. That’s done in order to save fuel and reduce the wear and tear of the transmission — since being in ‘D’, your car is always eager to move, and is controlled by the brakes alone.

All that is fine, but if you want to keep the fuel bills lower, use the automatic Stop-Start system (optional on a lot of cars). The system turns the vehicle off when you come to a halt; it restarts the engine when you take your foot off the brake pedal — provided you have the ‘D’ mode selected.

You can of course manually switch off the engine to ensure fuel isn’t being wasted. Also, if the vehicle is off and there’s no gradient, you don’t have to worry about over-wearing the transmission, either.

Watch the video:

Source for the tachometer’s image.