Today, the automatic transmission continues to dominate the automotive industry even with just a handful of manual cars purchased and made. Driving an automatic car may look easier than a manual one, but that does not necessarily mean that drivers need not take caution when it comes to handling one.
Though it is indeed a breeze driving an automatic transmission vehicle, there are still a few fatal mistakes that drivers should be wary of.
Shifting Gears Before A Complete Stop
Are you one of those drivers who conveniently switch gears just before your vehicle makes a complete stop? Whenever you are changing gears in an automatic transmission car, it is important to ensure that your car has fully stopped.
The rationale behind this is that you should be using your brakes to stop the vehicle and not with the transmission gearbox. When your car is still moving and you decide to change gears, unnecessary pressure is put on the automatic transmission band, which results in wear and damage.
Whether it is switching from ‘drive’ to ‘reverse’ or to ‘park’, and vice versa, you should always brake before shifting gears.
P.S. The transmission band is not easily accessible which makes replacement and repairs costly, as compared to brakes which are easy to service.
Engaging ‘Neutral’ Downhill
While coasting down a hill in neutral gear may save you fuel, but in negligible amounts, it takes some control away from you, given that you will only be able to brake and not accelerate.
Coasting in neutral gear also cuts the oil supply which prevents the transmission from getting proper lubrication, resulting in notable wear and tear. Apart from the damage incurred, utilising neutral gear downhill puts you in danger.
With the modern automatic transmission that cuts the fuel supply to the engine while you are cruising downhill, no change in gear is needed and fuel efficiency is achieved.
Engaging ‘Neutral’ At Stop Lights
As the neutral gear renders you less control over the car, placing your car in neutral at stop lights means that you will not be able to perform emergency manoeuvre in time, if required.
Furthermore, seeing a green light but forgetting that your vehicle is in neutral gear results in you revving the engine, which leads to fuel wastage.
P.S. Using the emergency brake at stop lights does not save you fuel.
Keeping Fuel Tank Low
As your fuel gauge is not always accurate, it is vital that you keep your fuel tank over a quarter way full to avoid stopping abruptly in the middle of the road while driving.
Having an adequate amount of fuel in the tank keeps the fuel pump’s electric motor stable and at a lower temperature. Driving on an almost empty or empty fuel tank also causes damage to your car such as the catalytic converter, which is part of the exhaust system.
Getting Water Into The Transmission
Driving through a heavy downpour is an easy feat when you are well-covered and seated in your car. However, getting water in your automatic transmission, even a small amount, can cause irreversible damage as the clutch’s friction lining absorbs and dissolves the glue that holds the materials together with the clutch.
To make things worse, with water present in the transmission, metal parts will begin to rust. Water that gets trapped in various parts may also form white gummy masses, which can affect your car’s performance.
P.S. Having your automatic transmission repaired or replaced will cost you thousands of dollars.
Not Using Emergency Brake
The emergency brake handle should be lifted, or engaged, if your vehicle is parked in an area, such as an uphill slope, which renders your vehicle vulnerable to any movement. Not doing so can damage the parking pawl, which is a device to lock up the transmission.
Revving your engine in neutral gear to prepare for that extra boost when shifted to ‘drive’ from a stop position, causes significant problems to the bands and clutches.
When engaging in a change of gears, friction is created to move the parts. However, frequent revving to launch your vehicle leads to premature wearing out of these bands and clutches, which can prove to be detrimental to your automatic transmission.
Regardless of the type of transmission your vehicle possesses, never delay bringing your car for a check if you notice any problems. Having it checked earlier not only saves you from an unforeseen, sudden breakdown, it could also save you some money before a replacement than a mere repair is required.