Proper driving on the machine is only at first glance a simple topic. It would seem, what is so difficult? Two pedals. You press the right - the car accelerates, the left - slows down. All other tasks are solved by the automatic transmission. Smooth start, switching on the most suitable gear depending on the speed and load on the engine, and others. But still. How to drive an automatic so that the box does not experience excessive loads, does not break down for a long time and does not require expensive repairs? You will find answers to these and other questions in this article.

Difference between automatic and manual

To drive an automatic transmission, the driver does not need to work with the clutch pedal and change gears. This is the main difference. Moreover, on the machine it is not necessary to select the optimal speed depending on the engine speed and load on it. All this is done by the box itself. As a result, the car is easier to drive, more comfortable and, importantly, protects itself from overloads.

Nevertheless, some “hints” from the driver to the machine are still needed. Firstly, the transmission "does not know" whether you want to start moving, or whether you will still stand still. It is also desirable for her to “report” about difficult sections of the road or other conditions that require appropriate modes to overcome.

For more details about what is better - an automatic or a mechanic.

Automatic transmission modes

Any automatic transmission has several standard modes
Any automatic transmission has several standard modes

As for the question - how to drive an automatic transmission, then you need to start studying it by getting acquainted with the main and additional transmission modes. This will allow you to use the automatic transmission as efficiently and correctly as possible, as well as not experience difficulties when driving in non-standard conditions. All main modes are described in the table below.







The main forward movement mode, together with which some additional functions of the machine can be activated






Neutral gear, in which the transmission is disconnected from the engine, which means the car can stand still, coast, tow, and so on



Parking mode in which the transmission blocks the drive wheels



There is not always, but if available, it includes low gears designed to overcome difficult sections of the road



When driving an automatic in this mode, the transmission uses only the first two gears, which allows you to effectively overcome impassability.



It should be turned on when driving on the machine on ice or snow



Mode for activating high gears designed for driving on highways



Aggressive driving mode on the machine, in which the box "allows" the engine to spin up to high speeds


Some more automatic transmissions are equipped with other modes, but they are much less common than those described. As a rule, their purpose and conditions of use are described in the instruction manual for a particular vehicle. For example, it can be an economical driving mode on the machine, switching to manual gear control, and so on.

Do I need to warm up the machine before driving?

On the Internet, there is information that the automatic transmission must always be warmed up before driving. Moreover, it is easy to find detailed "instructions" on how to do this. Allegedly, this allows you to significantly extend the life of the machine. Whether it is necessary to warm up the box - everyone decides for himself. Who wants, here is a typical instruction from the "experts":

  1. Set the automatic transmission to P mode.
  2. Start the engine.
  3. Warm it up for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Apply the brake, turn on the R mode, lightly press the gas and let the engine run in this mode for about 1 minute.
  5. Repeat the same procedure with mode D on.
  6. You can start moving.

Why should this instruction not be taken as mandatory? Firstly, not every car owner is ready to spend extra 5-6 minutes on a very dubious procedure. Secondly, no one has ever experimentally proved that a regularly heated box really lasts longer. And what the “experts” say about this is just their fantasies and assumptions. No more.

To broaden your horizons, it is better to read whether to warm up the engine.

How to get under way on the machine

Automatic transmission selector
Automatic transmission selector

Starting off in an automatic is much easier than in a manual. There is no clutch pedal, which means that there are no difficulties experienced by novice drivers with this control. However, the start of movement in a car with automatic transmission has its own characteristics, which it is desirable to know about. You can ride without these troubles, but it will no longer be possible to call it proper operation.


  1. Make sure N or P mode is on.
  2. Start the engine.
  3. Press the brake pedal.
  4. Turn on mode D.
  5. Release the hand brake on the car.
  6. Release the brake pedal.
  7. Gently depress the accelerator pedal.

The car will start moving. Before you put pressure on the gas when starting off, pay attention to the characteristic push. It indicates that the machine is "ready" to drive.

Reverse movement is performed in the same way. Only the selector is put into R mode. When parking or in other situations where driving forward and backward is used alternately, you need to switch modes only when the car is stationary, and not on the move. Unlike driving a cold automatic, rushing in this case can actually shorten the life of the transmission. This is already a proven fact.

Driving on normal roads

Everything is extremely simple here. The speed of movement is dosed by the gas and brake pedals. The automatic transmission will do the rest for you. To accelerate quickly for overtaking or other purposes, simply depress the accelerator pedal as far as it will go. The transmission itself will switch to a lower gear (or several gears), making acceleration more dynamic.

With measured movement on the highway, it is worth using the economy mode, if one is provided in the box of your car. The increased fuel consumption will decrease, and the engine with the transmission will work out in the most gentle mode for them. Undoubtedly, this will have a positive impact on their resource.

Automatic braking

Let's briefly analyze how to properly brake on the machine. To do this, fully release the gas pedal and, in accordance with the traffic situation, dose the force on the brake pedal. During a smooth deceleration, the box itself will reset the gears to lower gears, and you can continue to accelerate from the optimal mode at any time.

If the car is stopped completely, but briefly, then turning off mode D is not necessary at all.

Automatic parking

This should be done only when a long parking is expected. In such cases, after a complete stop, apply the handbrake, and switch the box selector to mode P or N. If the car is left on a steep slope for a long time, then it is not recommended to switch the selector to P mode. It is believed that in such conditions it is better to use the handbrake, and put the automatic transmission in neutral gear.

Working with the pedals on the machine

There are only two pedals in an automatic transmission car
There are only two pedals in an automatic transmission car

The question is simple - to work with one foot, or, nevertheless, with two? Actually, those motorists who switched to automatic from mechanics, “knurled” operate with one foot. Right. The left leg, since there is no clutch pedal, simply remains unused. This is proper driving. Why?

Firstly, if before that you went to the mechanics, you don’t have to retrain. Second, it's not necessary. Thirdly, working with the brake pedal requires precise dosing of force. And for this it is necessary that the heel rests on the floor. If you press the brake with your free left foot, then due to the characteristic arrangement of the pedals on the machine, inconvenience will arise.

If you're still driving a manual, try stepping on the brake pedal with your left foot as an experiment. You will immediately understand that this is extremely inconvenient, and you will not be able to dose the effort correctly from the first attempts. Just choose a safe place for experiments, without other road users and obstacles in the form of poles or fences! It may be dangerous.

Winter driving

Special modes of automatic transmission
Special modes of automatic transmission

On earlier cars with automatic transmissions, special modes for driving on slippery roads were not always provided. If you have such a car, then in winter you just need to drive more carefully. Smoothly press the gas and brake pedals, as well as take into account other features of movement and maneuvering on slippery surfaces.

If there is a SNOW mode, which is often also indicated with a snowflake icon, then in winter it is recommended to ride on it. This will make it easier to move off, and the drive wheels will not lose traction if you press the gas pedal too hard. In addition to convenience and safety, winter mode saves fuel. Although in the summer it is not worth using it for these purposes.

Driving in traffic jams and traffic lights

In a traffic jam on a car with an automatic transmission, it makes no sense to constantly switch between N and D modes
In a traffic jam on a car with an automatic transmission, it makes no sense to constantly switch between N and D modes

D to N in traffic jams or at traffic lights. The correct answer is no. Not worth it. In any case, whichever mode you leave, you will have to keep your foot on the brake. Otherwise, there is a risk that the car will suddenly start to roll freely, and you will miss this moment. The result is a mild but annoying accident.

Bottom line: there is no need to shift into neutral during short stops. The machine is designed for such operation, and nothing terrible will happen to it. Rather, on the contrary, if you constantly click the selector back and forth in a traffic jam, the wear of the switching mechanism will accelerate.

Driving in manual mode

This mode, if available, allows you to turn the automatic transmission into an almost full-fledged mechanics. The driver himself can decide at what speed, at what speed, and at what load on the engine to engage one or another gear. Naturally, such a ride on the machine requires some skills and understanding of the basic principles. But with the right approach, manual mode will allow you to squeeze more out of the car, and in some cases achieve even greater fuel efficiency.

In addition, the presence of a manual mode and the ability to use it will allow you not to dismount in case of machine glitches somewhere along the way. Therefore, if there is such a mode on your car, it is advisable to practice driving it in advance. This may come in handy in the future. And some motorists just like to sometimes have a little more influence on the car and its behavior.

Automatic towing

You can tow a car with an automatic transmission, but there are certain rules
You can tow a car with an automatic transmission, but there are certain rules

There is an opinion that a car with a failed automatic transmission cannot be towed. You just need to call a tow truck, and that's it. Actually, it is not. Or rather, not quite so. If the engine starts and runs stably, and the box is not jammed at all, then you can tow the car. But with some restrictions.

Here they are:

  • it is possible to tow only when the engine is running;
  • neutral gear must be engaged;
  • it is not recommended to transport the car without stops further than 50 km;
  • towing speed should be limited at around 40-50 km/h.

If, on the contrary, it is necessary to use a car with a machine gun for towing some other car, then there are some features here. In particular, it must be understood that for an automatic transmission such a mode will be associated with an increased load. Accordingly, when towing another car, you should not use the modes provided for economical or sports driving.

Driving with a trailer

Driving with a trailer
Driving with a trailer

The prejudice is erroneous that the trailer is the “killer” of the automatic gearbox. Carrying it with an automatic transmission car is not only possible, but also harmless. The main thing is to follow a number of elementary rules. Including, overcoming steep climbs or difficult sections of the road, use manually switched down gears. The manual control mode or mode D 2 described above helps in this.

You can also read about how to drive a machine with a trailer in the instruction manual for a particular car. For some models, manufacturers describe this point in great detail.

How no drive an automatic transmission

Finally, we briefly summarize the techniques that you should not use when driving an automatic transmission:

  • during the movement, do not switch between the main modes of the machine;
  • P mode on;
  • when switching from D to R and vice versa, wait until the machine stops completely;
  • do not use winter mode just to save fuel;
  • before you drive a machine in manual mode, read the material - how to drive a mechanic;
  • do not shift into neutral when driving downhill, as this can be dangerous.

If you know any other tricks and features of driving an automatic, share your knowledge and experience with other motorists in the comments below. It is possible that it is your useful information that will be added to this material in order to make it even more complete and useful.

VIDEO: how to drive an automatic car