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.
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 and we are going to list them here.
Shifting from “D” to “R” without stopping
This is a blunder, almost every automatic and a manual driver has confessed to doing. It seems too time-consuming of stopping your car first and then shifting to 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 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, where it is 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, and as far as wearing-out the torque converter, you are causing more damage when you switch from neutral to drive. Lets put an end to this myth once and for all.
“Launching” your vehicle
It is not fast and furious, and you are going to destroy your automatic transmission. Absolutely refrain from “launching” your car. Do not revv your car and shift to drive. First of all, this is not how a launch feature works, and second, 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
Another common mistake by automatic drivers. Coasting your car in neutral won’t save you any significant fuel savings. In fact, there are safety concerns associated with this. First, you are giving up control over the vehicle; you are also losing out on engine braking. For the second point, you need to get a brief concept 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 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.