Used to be gears and cars were pretty simple.
You either had 12345 or you had PRNDL.
And they were all the same and pretty easy to figure out.
And then things changed.
The PRNDL got real complicated.
And the 12345 got real Rare.
Let's learn how to understand and fully exploit the gears and related tech in your more modern car.
First, a quick explanation why we have gears in the first place.
It's because combustion engines suck, they're not really good at running in the low or very high RPM range.
They kind of do their best work between 2 and 5000 RPM.
Well if you only had one gear you wouldn't be able to get started very easily and you wouldn't be able to achieve any decent high speeds.
Gears make up the difference.
They're basically a set of crutches for an engine that has very limited power range.
Now if we look at the gears the automatic is the most common as we mentioned.
Let's start with the gear that every car of course has,the way it always did because it's safety oriented and that's P for Park.
No matter what button dial or a pedal gets you there, this is the one that disengages the transmission from the engine and it also Stick's literally a metal spike or a pawl into the rotating guts of the transmission to keep your car from moving.
It's a mechanical stop that goes in there.
It is a form of a break.
But you don't want to rely on it certainly on any kind of grade.
When you're on a grade, you definitely still use your parking brake, not just your park transmission position.
The next, of course, is reverse.
Reverse is obvious, the car goes backwards.
And this one hasn't gotten too complicated.
The main change over the last ten years has been it typically ties to and triggers a rear camera.
And that, of course, is becoming standard and required on cars As of new cars being sold May of 2018.
D or drive, this should also be called duh.
If you don't want to think about driving or gears, just go to D cuz that's gonna handle everything for you.
It's the best overall everyday driving position, and you don't need to use anything else in your car's transmission.
Transmission no matter what unless you want to.
And yet there are so many other choices.
Let's talk about them.
Your car may have a three, two, four, or an L or low position.
These are what called lockout positions.
They take the transmission and they say the top gear or two are now off limits, the car has to use only lower gears.
Typically that's been built in for going down long grades.
You get what's called compression braking.
The car's engine resists the car's forward motion and takes some of the load off your brake pedal and your wheel brakes.
Now you can also use some these lower gear lockouts as a form of a crude sport mode.
Because it keeps the car from jumping into high gears and kind of loafing It keeps the engine running faster and a little more sprightly responding.
But you don't need to use those, because today just about every car has a real sport mode, and it's more sophisticated than just doing a 3, 2, L, lock out.
What sport mode does is tell the car's computers, and everything's run by a computer in cars today, to hold the gears longer before shifting up to the next higher gear.
That means your engine is going to rev higher, your.
You're gonna hear that, you're gonna see it on your tap and then it will go grab the next year.
This allows you're engine to stay a higher RPM sweet spot.
Eco mode or some kind of a green mode you may have is the opposite of sport mode.
Instead of having the engine hold high RPM's and kinda be aggressive it tells the engine the kind of low through life You'll get much less throttle response cuz the engine's always gonna be in its tallest possible gear, its highest possible gear.
And that means it's not gonna be very snappy under acceleration.
But it's likely going to use less fuel.
And that can also be coupled with a throttle change that means the pedal tells the engine and the powertrain to do less when you step on it.
And if none of this appeals to you, you can actually use manual mode on your automatic.
Just about every automatic car has those today.
Sounds like an oxymoron but the idea is to get into a mode where you tell the car when to shift With two caveats.
It will not let you run the car too low in a high gear that the engine lugs or stalls.
And it will not let you run the car too fast in a lower gear so the engine over revs beyond its safe red line that you'll see on the tachometer.
Within those two boundaries, you can do whatever you want.
This makes for a very responsive, engaging driving experience.
One last thing, related to all this selection of gears is the Traction Control button.
It's typically a defeat like this that'll say Traction Control Off.
Traction control is on in most cars by default to say, when there's wheel slip, the car is going to cease sending power to that wheel.
To keep you in control and not getting into a slide or a spin or a skid.
But if you want to defeat that, this button will do so, and you will spin your wheels in things like snow or mud or sand.
Why it's useful is sometimes you're trying to get out of those situations, and you really want to have nuanced Control of the power and without the engine interfering and cutting it out as you're trying to get out of a rut or out of a slippery spot.