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Automatic Cars

Community Veteran
Posts: 14,396
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Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Automatic Cars


@Infinity wrote:

Best advice I was given when first driving an Automatic Gearbox car......

 

Tuck your Left leg under the drivers seat.

 

Otherwise, going from a manual car, when you "automatically" go to press the clutch pedal when you want to change gear, you will slam on the Brakes !!!

 


I've heard this many times from many people and all I can say is i strongly disagree with it.

The brake pedal is in the same position as the brake pedal on a normal car with a manual box. Where the clutch pedal would normally be I've always found a foot rest - handy as it doesn't move if you feel the urge to use the clutch.

I've never known anyone use their left foot on the brake pedal in a manual so why would they do so in an auto? What you are saying is an old wives tale.

We've had 5 autos over the years and i learnt to drive in a manual and had two manuals before switching to auto so I will also donate some thoughts.

Pedals - faster and slower like a normal car but no clutch. Also many autos come with 321 or 32L marked on the stick - for restricting the gearbox gear. When in D it is allowed to go into the highest gear. 3 is useful going down steep hills for engine braking.

If you're facing up hill at traffic lights, you can usually leave it in D and take your foot off the brake - the idling engine will hold the car stationary there for you but don't try if facing downhill lol.

Creeping.. as mentioned when in D the car will be in first gear by default so the moment you take your foot off the brake pedal it will start to creep. Same in reverse, 3,2,1. It's a great way to gently parallel park a car without having to wear out a clutch. Similarly when you start the car from cold the creep will be more powerful as the engine is running at a higher idle speed to warm up. When its warm the creeping power is noticeably less.

 

Always have the auto fluids changed when they should be. This is something that often gets overlooked but it can bring a lumpy autobox back to showroom condition smoothness. Obviously the less strain there is on the box the longer it will last.

Toyota, Volvo, Honda all make solid autos. Aisin-Warner boxes are typically used so if you find another brand with an AW box you're probably going to have reliability - assuming that they're all of the same standard (they might not be though).

There is a rumour that you can park an auto using just P on the stick and not worrying about the handbrake. This is true however there is a gotcha.. P usually locks the gearbox internally however it doesn't lock the differential or wheels. That means that if you jack up the car at the front (if front wheel drive) on one side and have no hand brake, the car is free to roll away if the trolley jack will allow it as there will be no brakes. Secondly the rear brake calipers need to be used in order for them to maintain efficiency otherwise they lose it. In effect you have to keep them charged by using the brake handle. Failure to do this can let them get a bit loose. It takes a long time to get to that stage but when you find you're pulling the handbrake up more than 5 clicks you know its gone too far. What i'm saying is although you can use P and the car will be safe if you forget the handbrake, try to use the handbrake as normal - -unless you are laying the car up for any significant amount of time. In that case use chocks on the wheels and leave the handbrake off otherwise it may seize.

Newer autos are over engineered complex junk. Get the simplest one you can. Any of that tronic stuff is going to cause hassle at some point.

When stationary the footbrake will typically still operate the brake lights so you'll wind people up behind you if you hold the car at the lights using the pedal. If you slip back into park then you'll likely give other drivers a fright too as most autos are PRND321 meaning that going from P to D results in your reverse lights lighting up at the driver behind causing alarm. Instead use N at the lights and the handbrake and when its time to pull away just pull the stick back.

 

Kickdown can be dangerous if used irresponsibly - for that reason any car with sports mode should be used with care. Don't use sports mode until you're used to kickdown without it. I've driven several cars that were terrifyingly powerful with normal kickdown. When using sports mode one of them at 50mph would drop into 2nd (once it used first) and literally strike the fear of god into me. Also kick down is dependent on the speed you slam the pedal down. If you push it down slowly the kickdown is less powerful (ie it might drop just one gear) but if you slam it down as fast as you can the car might drop two or three gears. This can be dangerous if you're not expecting it so use with caution.

Automatics don't stall. You have no clutch in the traditional sense so unless there is something wrong with the car it should not stall. If it does you have problems and probably a hefty repair bill.

Towing: Dangerous to automatic gearboxes if done incorrectly as the engine has to be running to lubricate it as it is still turning when being towed. Also there is a myth that once a car is in park you cannot move the stick into N. This is untrue. Some cars will allow you to move the stick, others will require you to remove a panel and unlock it (security feature). No harm will come to your autobox if you move it between gears with the engine turned off. Most automatics will only start however if they are in P or N - trying in any other gear usually results in nothing happening - not even a click from the starter.. Don't worry if you turned off while in D or a numbered gear, as long as you put it in P or N before starting it will be fine.

Steep hills were a seriously scary prospect the first few times i drove an auto but they cope very well. They use load sensors to determine what gear they need and they just get on with it - very well. Don't be scared!

 

Thats all i can think of at the moment..

I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
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Re: Automatic Cars

Thanks for the feedback, some useful comments.

What I was thinking of doing was arranging a 1 hour lesson for swmbo with a driving instructor using a automatic car so she would have some idea of what is was like.

The main problem might be finding a driving instructor who used a automatic, an alternative might be to hire a car for a day but that's a fairly expensive option.

Community Veteran
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Re: Automatic Cars

One other thing i forgot to mention about kick down is cruise control.

If you are doing 70 on a dual carriage way for example and slow for a roundabout the brake pedal will automatically turn off cruise control (if you have it and were using it). When turning it back on you normally have to be at 20mph minimum however cruise control and kickdown are very erratic. Sometimes it will accelerate slowly but in my experience this is quite rare - normally the pedal sinks to the floor and the car will just go for it. If you're ok with that then great - turn on cruise control as soon as you're able to but otherwise accelerate using the pedal and then turn it back on.

I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
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Re: Automatic Cars

Had an automatic for a couple of days....  so B O R I N G .....  Sad no fun driving it at all... not even with the "kick down".. 

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Re: Automatic Cars

Was pretty much forced to change from manual to auto due to a left knee injury making pressing the clutch very painful. I still very occasionally drive a manual (the knee is not so painful these days but has very restricted movement) but only for short distances such as a garage courtesy car to get home in, and use 5 miles each way to work. The result is though because I can't bend my left knee well I ride the clutch badly. 

But after many years of use and numerous different auto cars, I wouldn't go back to manual even if I could. I was also advised the "trick" of tucking the left leg up against the seat, but it didn't stop me trying to use it in the early days, nowadays when in a manual my problem is not using the clutch at all with an accompanying crunching of gears and persisting in coming to a halt in 3rd or 4th gear and an embarrassing jumpy stall.

Auto's are reported to be more expensive to run, to be honest I can't say I've noticed any great difference.

Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,396
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Re: Automatic Cars


@petlew wrote:

 

Auto's are reported to be more expensive to run, to be honest I can't say I've noticed any great difference.


In lower gears they are thirstier purely because there isn't a solid link but a slush box (cars with torque converters). In the top gear most of them lock up so there is a direct physical link to the engine and that is when you get the same mpg as a manual car.

I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Infinity
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Re: Automatic Cars


@7up wrote:

One other thing i forgot to mention about kick down is cruise control.

 

 

There is a steep hill on a windy road near me.

If I have Cruise Control selected (30mph+) , as I enter the hill, the auto gearbox kicks down, and scarily accelerates up the steep twisty hill !!

 

I now don't select Cruise Control there until I have ascended the hill manually...

Or deselect it as I approach the hill.

 

DaveyH
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Re: Automatic Cars


@PowerLee wrote:

@DaveyH wrote:

 

 

For those that struggle with autos try driving an EV with regen braking, single pedal driving takes some getting used to. Wink Cool


 

 Easy, I do it everyday at work, electric forklifts have had regen braking for years - an engineer colleague i know had a new model of electric counter balance truck that he was setting up, he adjusted the regen braking setting a bit to high, accelerated away then took his foot of the pedal, it stopped so quickly the rear wheels lifted of the floor.


 

Drive them regularly too, but it just feels totally wrong/counter intuitive to be doing it in a car on the road 

Infinity
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Re: Automatic Cars


@7up wrote:

@Infinity wrote:

Best advice I was given when first driving an Automatic Gearbox car......

 

Tuck your Left leg under the drivers seat.

 

Otherwise, going from a manual car, when you "automatically" go to press the clutch pedal when you want to change gear, you will slam on the Brakes !!!

 


I've heard this many times from many people and all I can say is i strongly disagree with it.

The brake pedal is in the same position as the brake pedal on a normal car with a manual box. Where the clutch pedal would normally be I've always found a foot rest - handy as it doesn't move if you feel the urge to use the clutch.

I've never known anyone use their left foot on the brake pedal in a manual so why would they do so in an auto? What you are saying is an old wives tale.

 


 

The point is..... you are used to using the left foot to operate the CLUTCH pedal, not the brake !

So when you go to depress the cutch pedal (in an automatic), you actually are in danger of depressing the wide brake pedal, with some force.

 

I have done it in the past, when going from a manual to an auto car.

 

Infinity
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Re: Automatic Cars


@gleneagles wrote:

Thanks for the feedback, some useful comments.

What I was thinking of doing was arranging a 1 hour lesson for swmbo with a driving instructor using a automatic car so she would have some idea of what is was like.

The main problem might be finding a driving instructor who used a automatic, an alternative might be to hire a car for a day but that's a fairly expensive option.


 

I've seen driving instructor cars with signs proclaiming "learn to drive an automatic", Google may offer you some local alternatives.

 

Google shows many such local schools near me, including the RAC.

 

Or.... do it for free !!

 

Arrange a test drive in an automatic car, telling the salesperson this is new to you, and you want to see if driving an automatic is acceptable to you, or SWMBO.

 

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Re: Automatic Cars

I drove the auto around Wales around 5 years ago. Sat Nav took me round a B road which while was sceinic had a huge drop (I mean big) with no barriers.

Dad joked to me “If we come off this road, we’re history”. Quite right and scary at the time.

Kickdown is good - you just need to be very selective when you use it.
beeceegee
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Re: Automatic Cars


@7up wrote:

@petlew wrote:

 

Auto's are reported to be more expensive to run....


In lower gears they are thirstier purely because there isn't a solid link but a slush box (cars with torque converters)...


One factor in this is that the average driver of a manual car probably doesn't make the most fuel efficient gear changes, which evens up against the slight energy loss through the auto's torque converter. With a DSG box of course the fuel efficiency on paper is pretty much identical to the manual version, being essentially the same gearbox. In real life driving I suspect the DSG has slightly better fuel efficiency than its manual counterpart
Infinity
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Re: Automatic Cars


@petlew wrote:

 

But after many years of use and numerous different auto cars, I wouldn't go back to manual even if I could. I was also advised the "trick" of tucking the left leg up against the seat, but it didn't stop me trying to use it in the early days

Auto's are reported to be more expensive to run, to be honest I can't say I've noticed any great difference.


 

My Auto Jazz Hybrid averages around 50+mpg.

But then it also has an electric motor, which takes some of the strain.

 

So my advice would be, if you can, use an Auto hybrid car.

 

Previously, with smaller engined smaller cars I have noticed a penalty driving an auto, but these days, driving more powerful larger cars, I can't say it's really noticeable !

 

 

ffox
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Re: Automatic Cars

My wife and I have driven automatics for the last 15 years and would not change now, although automatics are on the expensive side. They are much easier to use and inspire confidence - no risk of stalling at road junctions for example. 

Teething troubles have been ironed out, so you are unlikely to have any problems with recent models. Be careful to get the right type of box, though.   

The DSGs are excellent and so are the ones fitted in more expensive cars such as BMWs.  DSGs are as economical as manuals, and will cope with gear changes when accelerating much quicker and better than you can.  Generally speaking, the more gears the better.  Fully automatic boxes with only four gears are quite smooth,  but less economical (eg Hyundai i10).

The boxes to avoid are those described as automated manuals which are often fitted to smaller cars such as the VW UP.  The gear changes are jerky and noticeable.

Some people don't get on with CVTs either, although there are no gear changes so it's very smooth progress..  When you put you foot down the gearbox selects the revs for max torque and keeps them there as you accelerate - the engine sound doesn't change as you go faster.  This doesn't bother me, but others can't get used to it!

Having a longish test drive before you buy is a very good idea. Be sure to try it in heavy traffic in town.  Good luck!

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Re: Automatic Cars

When attending a speed awareness course some years ago when it was an all day course not the half day as now. The afternoon part was a driving assessment using the "instructors" vehicle. Of the 20 on the course only two were auto drivers, myself and one other.

We drove around adhering strictly to speed limits. At one point on a long up and down hill twisting country lane (a 40 mph limit) we were told to maintain the limit without using brakes, not such an easy thing to do in an automatic with little or no engine braking. I must admit I took to this quite easily, the other "candidate" did not making a complete hash of it first time round and didn't really get close until the third attempt. Its mostly down to anticipation and throttle control.

We were also introduced to the "overdrive off" fitted to some auto boxes (mine now does and did at the time of the course) but hardly ever used. The instructor noted that neither of us had had auto driving lessons but had transferred to autos straight from manuals. His opinion was that there is more to driving an auto than is at first obvious and auto drivers would benefit from a few lessons. I admit I probably learned more about driving an auto in those few hours than at any time since starting with one.

Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.