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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
P= Park. This is a mechanical lock on the gearbox, used to hold the car steady, used in addition to the handbrake. It is also one of 2 positions where the car can be started. ( the other being N ) Do not select P when the car is moving.
R= Reverse. Use this to go backwards.
N=Neutral. Use this as you would in a manual. I.E. when you have to sit stationary for a time, like at lights, when you know you're going to be stopped for a minute but it's not worth switching off the engine. Do not select neutral when the car is moving.
D= Drive. This is for general driving use. The gearbox senses road speed, engine speed, engine load and throttle position to decide whichever one of its 4,5, or 6 forward gears to select. If you are gentle with the throttle, it will change up to a high gear sooner, to save fuel and engine wear, if you press harder on the throttle, the gearbox will allow the engine to rev higher, as it senses you want to go quicker, it may even decide to select a lower gear, to allow faster acceleration. Like a manual, it moves off in 1st, changing up through 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc without you doing anything but decide the speed. It will also change down as you slow down, selecting 1st just before you stop, so it's ready to move off again. You can hold the car stationary in D, with the brake, and it won't stall, but at lights, it's generally considered safer to select Neutral, as most autos will tend to want to move forwards in D, even at idle speed. This is called 'creep'.
There are usually numbers 3,2,1 on the gear selector. These usually block out all gears higher than the number selected, so that in 2, the car will only use 1st and 2nd. These positions are usually used for descending hills, so the car stays in a lower gear to give you some engine braking, as otherwise, in D, the gearbox would think 'hey, rolling down this hill is easy, let's do it in top gear!', which might result in the car going too fast if you don't brake.
This is only a general guide, as different cars use slightly different methods, and different drivers can prefer to use the gearbox differently.
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