P or N for automatic cars at traffic lights? We explain for AMT, DCT, CVT &Torque converters


With the rising demand for automatic cars in the Indian market, there are many who are still finding out the most efficient way of using two-pedal cars. More demand for automatic cars has ensured that there are more choices in the market. While we shared things that you are doing wrong with your automatic transmission a while back, here is something that will be useful during your daily drives and commutes. What should you choose on the gear selector while waiting at the traffic lights? Well, find the answers below.

Automated Manual Transmission (AMT)

Let’s start with the simplest form of automatic transmission – the AMT. Available with almost all the mass-segment cars in the market, the AMT has become quite popular in recent years. If you are driving an AMT, be aware that it is simply a manual transmission with an automatic clutch and gear shift operation. So when you come to stop, the gear comes down to 1st gear so that the car can creep ahead in slow-moving traffic when you release the brake. If you keep the brake engaged during a long traffic signal, it will simply put extra pressure on the transmission and will wear the brakes quicker. Simply shift the transmission lever to “N” and engage the parking brake, just like you do in the normal manual transmission cars.

Torque Converter

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Torque converter automatic transmission is a little forgiving. If you’re waiting at a traffic signal for a shorter period of time and do not want to move your left hand to change the gear lever position, you don’t have to sweat much as it won’t do any harm to the transmission apart from putting some pressure on the brakes. You have to really keep the brakes engaged for say about 20-25 minutes to heat the transmission fluid. So during shortstops, you can stay right in the D mode but for anything longer than 30 seconds or a minute, you should really put the gear lever in neutral and engage the parking brake.


Cvt Transmission Gearbox

All the modern cars with CVT offer creep function which means that the car wants to go ahead as soon as you release the brake. This again puts unnecessary pressure on the brakes. In many cars, shifting to parking mode makes the car think that you’re ready to shut down the engine and get out of the vehicle, which also causes the door locks to open automatically. To prevent this, you should shift to the neutral mode and keep the hand brake engaged.


DCT are the most advanced automatic transmission with a dual-clutch system. However, many of them are prone to get overheated during slow-moving traffic. In India, many owners have faced the problem of overheated transmission with DCT. While you can keep the DCT engaged in drive mode while you wait for the signal to go green for a minute or two but it is highly recommended that you shift to the neutral and let the transmission cool down. The transmission cools down as long as the engine is running so you can actually use a DCT judicially in heavy, slow-moving traffic without overheating it.