7 Beginner Tips For Driving an Automatic Car

Most people who have learned to drive within the last 20 years were taught how to drive a car with an automatic transmission. These are supposedly easier to drive than manual cars, which requires you to operate a gear shifter and clutch pedal to change gears.

But for those who may have learned how to drive a manual transmission vehicle first, it will feel much different to start driving an automatic after you’ve gotten used to the driving operation of a manual car. Here are the seven tips for driving an automatic car for beginners.

#1 – Make a Complete Stop Before Switching Gears

car won't go in reverse

Before you switch from one gear to the next, you must make sure your vehicle has completely stopped first. This means stopping before going from park to drive, drive to park, park to reverse and so on. If you don’t do this, you could risk damaging your transmission.

#2 – Don’t Drive in Neutral

There is this myth that you can save money on fuel mileage if you keep the gear in neutral when your coasting. The truth is this can damage your brakes and prevent your car from accelerating quickly. The later being a huge safety hazard.

Besides, you don’t need to coast in neutral because modern transmissions give you the option to do this now.

#3 – Use Handbrake to Park

When you go to park your car, do not just put the gear into park. You need to pull up on the handbrake afterward. Some vehicles may have a foot brake or switch to engage the parking brake.

This will prevent your rear wheels from being able to move which means your car will not roll away. If you were to just place the transmission into “Park” without the hand brake set, then your car could very well start rolling in some situations.

#4 – Light Throttle Pressure First

After you switch the gear to drive, don’t just slam on the gas pedal and exert maximum power into your vehicle. This could end up damaging your vehicle’s stationary parts if you do this.

Instead, you’ll want to exercise a mild throttle pressure and then gradually accelerating to a higher speed.

#5 – Don’t Rest Your Foot on the Brake Pedal

driving with two feet

When driving, avoid using both feet to operate the brake and gas pedal. When you keep your foot over the brake pedal, you’ll get into the bad habit of putting a bit of weight on the pedal.

This can cause unnecessary wear and tear on the brake pads, reduce your fuel mileage, and your rear brake lights will constantly be lit and annoy the drivers behind you.

#6 – Wear Good Shoes

Some people like to go barefoot or wear socks or flip flops when they drive, but this is actually very dangerous. Your feet can slip off the pedals, or get stuck under them, which could cause you to lose control of the car.

Additionally, you won’t have the same level of traction if you’re not wearing proper shoes, which could make it difficult to brake in an emergency. While it’s not illegal, barefoot driving is never a good idea.

#7 – Don’t Use Cruise Control

As a new driver, it’s recommended not to utilize the cruise control feature in your vehicle. It’s a great feature to have after you have adequate driving experience but for beginners, it may cause you to relax a bit too much and not pay as much attention to the road as you should be doing.

In addition, you may not understand the times you should and should not be using cruise control. An example situation would be on a curvy, uphill road where the car will want to accelerate even though you should be slowing down for the next turn. This can result in a panic situation and ultimately getting into an accident. 

Read Also: 15 Tips When Learning to Drive a Stick Shift

Once you get used to driving an automatic, you may find that you enjoy it more than driving a manual because it requires you to perform fewer actions.

However, unless you’re a car enthusiast who enjoys the involvement and feedback only a manual transmission provides, the main complaint people have about automatic cars is they often have a lower fuel economy than manual cars. But even if that is true, the convenience of an automatic is definitely worth the extra cents at the gas pump.

Mark Stevens

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