Home » Car Learning, Driving

How to Change Gears in an Automatic Car


When it comes to car buying, most people prefer to buy an automatic transmission car over a manual transmission car. This is because automatic transmission car does not require the driver to operate the transmission for every gear. Whether you are driving uphill, downhill, or overtaking another car, automatic car will do everything for you as long as you place the gear to “D” and step on the accelerator. It is easier to be driven compared to manual transmissions therefore it is very attractive to new drivers. As for experienced drivers, they will also prefer automatic transmission cars especially people who live in the city with heavy traffic jam. No one prefers to drive manual cars especially when they stuck in traffic jam.

Understanding Automatic Carautomatic transmission car

It is important to understand how an automatic transmission car operates before you learn how to change the gears. While you are learning to drive an automatic car, you will see P, R, N, and D in an automatic transmission car. These are what the general automatic car has although there are different types of automatic transmission pattern.

P (Parking) – This gear locks the transmission and it should be engaged when the car is stationary. A car that comes with high security requires the driver to step on the brake pedal before they are able to change the gear to R, N, or D.

R (Reverse) – Obviously, this is the gear when you need to reverse the car.

N (Neutral) – When the gear knob is in this position, there is no gear engaged. The car can be pull forward or backward if the e-brake is not engaged. Never leave your car with N when it is not in use.

D (Drive) – Put D when you want to drive the car. The D include everything no matter your car comes with 4, 5, 6, or 7 gears. That is the advantage of driving an automatic car.

You need to know the Driving safety tips even you know how to drive: Car dashboard symbols

How to Change Gears in an Automatic Car

A driver is only allowed to change gears in an automatic car if the shift pattern come with 1, 2, 3, D1, D2, D3, D4, S, +, -, or anything other than D. An automatic car that comes with 4 gears in its transmission will usually have this shift pattern.

change gears in an automatic car

P, R, N, and D work exactly like other automatic car. In order to change gears in this kind of automatic shift pattern, you will have to shift the gear from D to D3, from D3 to 2, from 2 to 1, from D2 to D3, or any way you want. Changing gear from D to D3 means you change from 4th gear to 3rd gear. On the other hand, you can change gears in an automatic car by stepping the accelerator as hard as you need when going uphill. As for downhill, ease off the accelerator to allow the automatic transmission to shift to a lower gear and slow down the car.

So, how to rev up the engine and drive off with an automatic car? First of all, step on the brake and start the car. Change the gear to 1 and drive it off. Change it to 2 when you see the RPM reaches 3000 or above. Again, change it to D3 when the RPM reaches 3000 – 4000 and then D. This is how you can play around with the automatic transmission car.

New to driving? Learn also: How to drive a car, How to parallel park a car, learning to drive standard cars, and learning to drive a car.

Change Gears in Automatic Car ONLY When Needed

There are many people wanting to know how to change gears in an automatic car. The above mentioned is a good way to change gears in an automatic car but it is highly recommended a drive to do so when it is really needed. For example, change the gear to D3 or 2 if you feel the car is hardly go uphill or it is going downhill in high speed. Do not shift the automatic gear from D to 1 quickly. This will damage the gearbox. Transmission is one of the most important parts in a car. It will cost you a big fortune if it is giving problem. The key to drive an automatic car is “Shift ONLY when it is really needed”.

automatic car

What is not good? Driving barefoot and Texting while driving! Both of these are very bad habits.

For manual car lovers, you might want to see these articles: learning to drive manual cars, learning to drive a manual transmission car, and teach me how to drive a manual car.


If you love this article, please PLUS it!