Most drivers are operating an automatic transmission equipped vehicle. Currently only 37% of the vehicles sold offer a standard transmission version, and sales account for a mere 3%. Many manufacturers have dropped the standard transmission option in most of their lines completely. Even sports cars like Ferrari have dropped the stick shift so the stick seems to be going the way of rumble seats and the dodo.
Tips for How to Drive an Automatic Car
The new automatics are electronically shifted, offer more gears and are now getting better mileage than the sticks.
Very few people under 21 learn to drive a standard transmission, even nomenclature will change as the standard shift transmission is no longer standard. But some caution must be used when driving an automatic.
• Parking on a hill. The automatic transmission has a parking pawl that engages teeth on the output shaft to hold the vehicle stationary. The small finger of metal is all that holds your vehicle stationary when you leave the vehicle. These have been known to break, and if you are parked on a hill and the pawl breaks, disaster occurs and you may never be able to get insurance again. Use the parking brake, that is what it is for. It’s called a parking brake for a reason. Using this brake can save a lot of grief.
• An automatic is not a clutch and standard shift combo. Downshifting to brake can cause a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on your transmission. Automatic transmissions have bands and clutches operated by hydraulic pressure. This is how they shift; planetary gear systems. Manually down shifting causes abnormal stress and strains, heat as well as unnecessary slippage as components cope with the process. Rebuilt transmissions are expensive, and yes rebuilt. Even dealer replacement transmissions are rebuilt or salvage. New transmissions go into new production vehicles only.
• Stop before changing direction. Not stopping before shifting from forward to reverse or the opposite puts unacceptable strain that lead to early failure of the transmission other powertrain components.
• A long drive is better than a short commute. Probably not much can be said about the following situation. A moderate to long commute is better than a short commute. Engines, transmission and differentials all depend on lubricants and components that have dropped in temperature with a raise in lubricant viscosity. Short commutes never give the lubricants, fluids and mechanical components time to reach operational temperature. Short commutes therefore increase wear compared to longer commutes. Stress is relieved when components can operate at their designed temperature. If it’s too far to walk, ride a bike or there is no public transportation and the distance is too little to reach operating temperature you’ll just have to understand that premature failure may be experienced. It is what it is.
Automatic Driving Tips
• Learn how to check fluid levels. Transmission operate with automatic transmission fluid. It cools components and is the medium used to enable gear shifting. Leakage at the rear indicates that the rear seal needs replacement. Leak from the front is the front seal, the transmission will have to pulled to provide access to the front seal. Rear seals and seals around the shifter can be replaced while the transmission is still in place.
• Operating temperature is one thing, excessive heat another. The cooling system either through the radiator or an external aftermarket cooler must be free of foreign matter and kinks and other restrictions or loose the transmission. Excessive heat and leaks are the cause of many a transmission failure.
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Drive safe, keep up with maintenance and breaks some bad habits if you have them, or deal with a dead transmission. And if your tranny fails call us, SOS Fast Towing to get your vehicle to the repair shop.