Driving an automatic vehicle is generally considered easier than driving a manual, but there are still several important things to consider, especially if you’re driving one for the first time. Here is a list of things to avoid:
Don’t Use Left Foot for Braking: In automatic vehicles, use your right foot for both the gas and the brake, instead of one foot for each. Using one foot for both pedals helps avoid accidentally pressing both pedals at the same time.
Avoid ‘Neutral Coasting’: Don’t shift into neutral while the car is moving to ‘coast’. It doesn’t save fuel and reduces your control over the vehicle.
Avoid Shifting Before the Car Stops: Don’t shift from ‘Drive’ to ‘Reverse’ or ‘Park’ before your car comes to a complete stop. Shifting while in motion can damage the transmission.
Don’t ‘Ride the Brake’: Resting your foot on the brake pedal while driving can wear out the brakes prematurely and decrease fuel efficiency. It’s also dangerous as it can signal to drivers behind you that you are slowing down when you are not.
Avoid Resting Hand on Gear Lever: The gear lever is not a hand rest. Constant pressure, even light, could lead to premature wear of the transmission components.
Don’t Ignore the Parking Brake: Even though the car is in ‘Park’, you should still engage the parking brake when parked. This takes the stress off the transmission and adds a layer of safety.
Don’t Use ‘Park’ as a Brake: When stopping, ensure you come to a complete stop using the brake pedal before shifting into ‘Park’. Don’t use the ‘Park’ position as a substitute for the brake when stopping the vehicle.
Avoid Revving the Engine Before Shifting: Do not rev the engine before shifting from ‘Park’ to ‘Drive’ or ‘Reverse’. This is hard on the transmission and can lead to expensive repairs.
Don’t Drive on a Low Fuel Tank Consistently: This isn’t specific to automatic vehicles, but consistently driving with a low fuel tank can make the fuel pump overheat and wear out more quickly, as the fuel acts as a cooler for the pump.
Don’t Ignore Warning Lights: If any warning lights (e.g., the check engine light) come on, don’t ignore them. Check the vehicle’s manual for guidance or consult with a professional.
Avoid Sudden and Hard Stops, Unless Necessary: Try to avoid hard and sudden stops unless in an emergency. This is easier on your car’s brakes and tires.
Avoid Using the Accelerator to ‘Creep’ Forward Slowly: In an automatic, the car will move slowly when you release the brake (this is called ‘creep’). Avoid pressing the accelerator to move slowly forward as it can wear the transmission.
Avoid Holding the Car on a Hill with the Throttle: If you’re stopped on a hill, don’t use the throttle to hold the car in place. Use the brakes, and engage the handbrake if necessary.
Don’t Forget to Check the Fluids Regularly: Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is crucial in the functioning of the automatic transmission. Regular checks and changes are essential.
Avoid Heavy Loads: Unless your car is rated for towing, avoid pulling heavy loads, as this puts excessive strain on the transmission.
Remember, every car is a little different. It’s important to read the vehicle’s manual and familiarize yourself with the controls and the recommended maintenance schedule. Always prioritize safety, for you and others on the road, and take it easy until you are comfortable with your new vehicle.