Used to be gears in cars are pretty simple.
You either had 1 2 3 4 5 or you had P, R, N, D, L and they were all the same and pretty easy to figure out.
And then things changed.
The P, R, N, D, L are real complicated and the 1 2 3 4 5 got real Rare, lets 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 suck.
They're not really good at running in the low or very high RPM range.
They kinda do their best work between 2 and 5,000 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 paddle gets you there, this is the one that disengages the transmission from the engine, and it also So it's literally a metal spike or a [UNKNOWN] 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 brake 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, because that's going to 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 no matter what unless you want to.
And yet there are some of the other choices, let's talk about them.
[UNKNOWN] may have a three, two, four or an L or low position.
These were all called locked out positions.
They take the transmission and they save the top gear or two are now off limits.
The car has to use only lower gears Typically, that's been built in.
We're 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 these lower gear lock outs 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 spritely responding.
But you don't need to use those because today every car has a real sport mode.
And it's more sophisticated than just doing a 3-2-L lockout.
What sport mode does is tells the car's computers, and everything is run by a computer in cars today, to hold the gears longer before shifting up to the next higher gear.
That means your engine's gonna rev higher You're gonna hear that and you're gonna see it on your tack.
And then it will go grab the next gear.
This allows your engine to stay in 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 RPMs and be aggressive it tells the engine to loaf through life.
You'll get much less throttle response because the engine's always gonna be in it's tallest possible gear, it's 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.
This 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 so that the engine lugs or stalls, and it will not let you run the car too fast in a lower gear, so the engine overrevs beyond its safe red line that you'll see on the tachometer.
Within those two boundaries you can do whatever you want and this makes forever a responsive engaging driver experience.
One last thing were laid all the selection of gears is the traction control button.
It's typically a defeat like this it'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 see 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 if 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.
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