How to Use the Controls in an Automated Car

April 9, 2021

Initially, it was assumed that automatic cars were designed for the elderly or people who cannot drive manual cars for whatever reasons. But that has changed: automatic cars are now widespread. An automatic car is easy to drive and more relaxing than a manual car.

However, if you are used to driving a manual car and have never driven an automatic car, you first need to learn new tricks. Apart from the usual mistakes to avoid when driving an automatic car, you also need to get used to operating the controls.

The controls in an automatic car give you many options which you can only use if you understand them in the first place.

The Gearbox

Here is what you need to know about the automatic gearbox before you start driving an automated car:

An automated car’s gearbox typically has four selections:

  • P (for Park)– You will use this selection to lock the transmission to prevent the car from rolling away when you are getting out of the car.
  • R (for Reverse) – You will select ‘R’ when you want to reverse, that is, drive backward. It functions just like a reverse gear.
  • N (for Neutral) – You will use ‘N’ along with the handbrake when you are stopping briefly. You should never select it when the car is moving.
  • D (for Drive) – It automatically selects gears, allowing the car to move forwards.

Note that some automated cars have gearboxes with the option of selecting first or second gear to help you in situations when you want to slow the speed using the gearbox. For instance, when you are driving down a steep road.

The option will also help keep the revs down and stop your wheels from spinning when you pull away in certain situations.

One such situation is when driving through snow or ice. Pulling away in second gear will stop the wheels from spinning. In some car models, the control is called “winter mode.”

There are only two pedals in an automatic car: the accelerator and the brake. The role of a gearstick is taken over by a lever/selector. It is easy to forget that you drive an automated car and then press down on the brake pedal like you do the clutch pedal in a manual car. This can result in an instant emergency stop.

With that out of the way, here is how to use controls to drive an automated car:

  • Put the right foot on the left-hand pedal (which is the brake), then push down.
  • With your foot still on the brake, start the car with a start button or the key.
  • If you are to drive forward, move the shifter to ‘D’ or move it to ‘R’ to move backward.
  • Once the car starts moving, the gearbox will automatically select the appropriate gear for the situation and handle everything for you.
  • When it’s time to stop the car, keep your foot on the brake, shift to ‘P,’ switch off the ignition and then come out of the car.

How Do You Practice Driving An Automated Car?

To practice how to drive an automated car, turn off the engine and start practicing on the gears and pedals.

You will be controlling both the pedals with your right foot. Try getting used to that.

Once you have mastered that, it’s now time to learn how to move the gearbox from Park to Drive, Neutral, and Reverse modes. With your foot on the foot brake, push the button on the side of the gearshift you want to change to.

It would be best if you practiced until you no more have to look down whenever you want to change the modes.

How Many Different Types Of Automatic Gearboxes Are Available?

Any car that changes its gears automatically without a clutch pedal application is considered an automatic vehicle. However, automated vehicles have different types of automatic gearboxes.

As you learn to use the controls in an automated car, you need to take into account the type of gearbox it has. The following are the different types of automatic gearboxes:

  • Conventional Automatic Gearbox — This torque converter type of gearbox is more refined and advanced than others, but it consumes more fuel. Volvo XC90 and the Range Rover are some of the luxury cars using this fuel-guzzling gearbox
  • Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) — This gearbox is popular in hybrid cars. It is more reliable due to its efficiency, resulting in a smoother ride with no skipping or skidding between gears. It does away with cogs and uses a belt instead. The belt acts as a single gear ratio.

However, it has a slower acceleration compared to the other automatic gearboxes. Its engine is also loud and strained when you try to adjust speed rapidly.

  •  Dual-clutch Automatic — It is similar to a Conventional Automatic Gearbox, except that it has two automatically operated clutches instead of the torque converter.

This allows for rapid gear changes because the next ratio is prepared and lined up in advance. This gearbox is found in Volkswagen Golf.

  •  Automated Manual Gearbox — It used to be popular but not anymore. You can still find it in cheaper or old cars. It is basically like a manual gearbox, except it automatically selects gears and uses a computer instead of a clutch to operate it.

The cars with this type of gearbox are usually jerky, like any other manual car. A slight pause ensues as the system works itself through the gears.

Wrap Up

An automatic car requires high maintenance, so you should be careful when you are driving one. Any type of mechanical damage you cause could be costly to rectify. On the flip side, new generation automatic gearboxes are more reliable, thanks to technological advances.

An automated car is faster and more efficient. But use it responsibly because speeding even on an empty road is risky.

At Pierre Paul Driving School, you get to learn both a manual and an automated car so that you can handle any car.

Do you want to learn to drive an automated car or know anyone around Brooklyn, New York, interested? Reach out to us today, or refer others.