Car Features

Beginner’s Guide on Automatic Transmissions


On our roads today, most cars are of automatic transmissions. Automatic cars are easy to drive and handle compared to the past generation of cars.

In an automatic vehicle, the four main distinct gears are; Park (P), Reverse (R), Neutral (N), and Drive (D). Some automatic transmission cars have additional sets of gears such as Sport (S), Overdrive (O), and B.

Automatic Transmission Gears

  • Park. This gear is useful when stopping and needing a hand brake. In simple terms, engage the (P) gear on stopovers and when you park your car.
  • Reverse. The (R) gear is common to both automatic and manual transmission. It is engaged when reversing.
  • Neutral (N). When engaged, the vehicle’s engine disengages from the wheels. It is applied mostly when in need to tow a car.
  • Sport (S). This gear provides higher revs therefore, the car’s transmission downshifts soon after releasing the throttle. It holds low gears for long durations to sustain acceleration, especially when going on steep grounds. This gear is not on all automatic transmissions.
  • Overdrive (O). Used when driving at higher speeds and helps to save fuel. Some automatic cars lack this gear.
  • (B). This is for supplementary braking (engine braking). Engine braking is mostly felt when the car is moving at a slower speed than on high speeds. Engine braking is a mechanism by which the engine tends to slow down the car’s speed when you let go of the pedal.
  • Drive. In automatic transmissions, the (D) covers all the forward gears. Automatic transmissions select gears based on vehicle speed and other factors.

Some automatic transmissions might have additional 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd gears.

Low 1. This is the lowest gear and once selected, it can’t shift on its own. This gear provides maximum power and is useful on steep grounds, however with this gear, the car’s speed is limited. Some automatic transmissions shift out of this gear once you reach a certain speed to prevent engine/transmission damage.

Low 2. This gear also provides high power and is useful on slippery and loose surfaces. It can also be used for engine braking when going down a steep slope.

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Computer Engineering Student
Entrepreneur and Free thinker.

Harrison Meshak
the authorHarrison Meshak
Computer Engineering Student Entrepreneur and Free thinker.

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