Changing Gears with an Automatic Transmission

gear selector Key Transmission & Gear DenverHave you ever wondered about changing gears with an automatic transmission? Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado has the answers for you. Even though you don’t change all the gears like in a manual vehicle, you still have some control over the gears. Knowing when to shift will help improve the power and efficiency of your car, truck or SUV’s engine. 

Use the RPMs

The computer in your car understands how to shift the transmission according to the revolutions per minute or RPM. If the RPM goes up too high, the computer upshifts. Conversely, if the RPM drops too low, the computer sends the signal to downshift.

If you want to get your transmission to upshift, simply stomp down on the gas pedal until the RPM goes high enough to shift. Then ease off the pedal, so you don’t go rocketing down the highway. You may have already unintentionally used this tactic when you wanted a burst of speed to pass someone.

You can also do the opposite. If you want your transmission to downshift, let off the gas pedal. Once the RPM drops low enough, the transmission will shift down.

Use the Lever

Depending on your vehicle, you may have noticed that the transmission lever has more settings than the ones you typically use. You probably use park, reverse, and drive all the time and neutral on occasion. But have you ever noticed that there are a couple more after drive? These are usually labeled with numbers or simply an L. These are your extra low, strong gears.

Here’s when you might need to use them.

Towing

The computer on your vehicle’s engine is calibrated to the weight of your car and makes the gears shift based on that number. When you add extra weight to your vehicle, the computer doesn’t know that and often ends up choosing a gear that is too high for your current load. If you’re towing a trailer, boat or other toys, you’ll want to force it to drop down by changing gears with an automatic transmission.

Going Uphill

Even though you don’t actually add extra weight, when you go up a steep hill gravity essentially makes your vehicle heavier. This puts added torque on your engine that you can balance by using a lower gear.

Going Downhill

You might be wondering why you would use these lower gears to go downhill. Obviously, the load on your engine has been lessened quite a bit. You don’t need extra torque from the transmission, what you need are good brakes, right? Not so fast.

Instead of riding your brakes down a steep hill, which can be dangerous if they overheat, downshift. Changing gears with an automatic transmission (to a lower gear) helps to brake your engine, which slows you down without having to use the actual brakes. Knowing how to use this feature can really save your brakes in mountain driving.

We hope these tips from Key Transmission and Gears have been helpful. Now that you understand more about changing gears with an automatic transmission you may actually put those extra gears to use if you decide to head up into the mountains or tow a sweet teardrop trailer for your summer road trip. While driving a car with an automatic transmission is not as complicated as a manual, knowing these little tricks can help your engine run more efficiently and cause less wear and tear on your vehicle.

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