The Indian car market has seen a significant rise in automatic cars. Almost all the car manufacturers are now offering some variant of an automatic transmission. Even the economy segment had some recent launches with Maruti-Suzuki bringing in the Alto AMT, Renault with their Kwid AMT and the recently launched Hyundai Santro which also has an AMT option.
It is clear that the Indian car scene is seeing a paradigm shift with its cars. With the daily adventures of an average commuter stuck in a choc-a-bloc traffic jam, driving a manual seems to be quite a tedious task. An automatic on the other hand will not make the congestion go away but, will reduce fatigue and make your daily drive a breeze.
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So, you are a proud owner of an automatic vehicle. But, are you shifting right? Driving an automatic is quite straightforward and easy, but there are subtle mistakes that almost every automatic driver makes. We are going to list them here.
Shifting from “D” to “R” without stopping
This is a blunder almost every automatic or manual driver has confessed to making. It seems too time-consuming to stop your car and then shift into reverse. But this lethargy can lead to some costly repairs. When you don’t stop your car before shifting to R, the transmission is forced to change direction rapidly, which damages the gearbox.
Keep this in mind: a car transmission is not meant to stop the car. You have brakes for that purpose.
Shifting to Neutral at a red light
This is a common misconception in the community. People are advised to put the car in neutral when at a red light citing that it saves fuel and reduces the wear on the torque converter.
But, the truth is quite the contrary. Putting the car in neutral won’t save you any fuel. When you shift to neutral at the stop signal you really are delaying the wear on the torque converter. In fact, you are causing more damage to it when you switch from neutral to drive. So, lets put an end to this myth once and for all.
“Launching” your vehicle
Life is not Fast and Furious. Keep making this driving mistake and you will destroy your automatic transmission. Absolutely refrain from “launching” your car. Do not rev your car and shift to drive. First of all, this is not how a launch feature works, and secondly, this is going to kill the transmission.
Doing this gives a sudden shock to transmission as it abruptly shifts from neutral to drive in high RPM.
Cruising in Neutral
This is another common mistake automatic drivers make. Coasting your car in neutral won’t yield any significant fuel savings. In fact, there are safety concerns associated with this. The first is that you are losing control over the vehicle. Additionally, you are losing out on engine braking. For the second point, you need to have a brief understanding of how an automatic transmission works.
Automatic transmission needs proper lubrication for a smooth operation. When you shift to neutral while on the drive, the engine starts to idle and cuts off the oil supply. It’s a no-brainer that this will damage the gearbox or at least increase the wear and tear.
Shifting to “Park” without stopping
The parking gear in an automatic transmission engages a locking pawl to the output shaft gear to prevent the car from moving. When the car is moving the gear is also in motion. Shifting to “P” without stopping meshes the locking pawl to the still-moving gear. Doing this can break or shear the pawl.
Make a habit of always stopping to a complete halt, before putting the car into “Park”.
There you go! It is all about changing a few driving habits and avoiding these common mistakes. You are now a better driver.
Also, Read Part II: 5 Habits To Avoid When Driving A Manual Car | Have A Look
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This is a great article and you are banged on with your points about automatic driving-mistakes. Be clear about what you really need and want to accomplish at this point- you are right with this point.