Five Habits to Avoid with an Automatic Transmission Car

June 3, 2016 •

habits to avoid with automatic transmission car

A lot of drivers have automatic transmissions. That said, not everyone operates them to top-standard safety measures. Sure, it’s easy to slip up once in a while. If you keep slipping up, however, you might damage more than your daily driving schedule. Automatic transmissions aren’t new. They were designed to fulfill a specific purpose, and drivers are urged to take care when operating them. They’re complex, and a lot of drivers use them incorrectly.

To spare your transmission in the long run, and to ensure years of happy driving, strike out the following bad habits from your driving behavior:

Bad Habit One: Using the Automatic Transmission to Slow Down

If you grew up with a manual gearbox, you might have learned to downshift the transmission to slow, and eventually halt, your vehicle. Hills, stoplights and crosswalks all deserve proper attention, but you shouldn’t be downshifting in your automatic transmission. It might sound cliché, but it really isn’t. Too many drivers use forced downshifts to stop at high-engine RPMs. The result: an incredible amount of wear on transmission bands and clutch friction plates.

Bad Habit Two: Placing the Vehicle in Gear with a Fast Idle

Don’t shift your gear into park-mode when the engine is idling quickly. Shifting into reverse or drive can create a quick, jarring movement on your automatic transmission, which stresses the clutch plates and transmission bands. It can cause damage to additional drive line components, too.

Bad Habit Three: Coasting Downhill in Neutral

Modern automatic transmissions already reduce engine fuel intake. You won’t save gas by coasting downhill in neutral. In fact, doing so can wear on a transmission. It’s also illegal in 15 states. Retain control over your vehicle, and shift to drive. Don’t worry, you can still coast.

Bad Habit Four: Putting Your Vehicle in Neutral at a Stop Light

A lot of drivers put their vehicles into neutral to save gas. That said, only fractions of a gallon can be saved in doing so. Going into neutral at a stop light degrades an automatic transmission. While the degradation is slow, it can certainly reduce your vehicle’s lifespan.

Bad Habit Five: Not Using the Parking Break

Do you use your parking break? If you don’t, you might be mistreating your transmission. By placing your gear selector into “Park,” you engage a vehicle’s parking pawl. The parking pawl locks an automatic transmission’s outpost shaft. If you don’t engage your parking break, the parking pawl can snap if your vehicle is struck.

In most cases, consistency is key. Stay in-tune with your vehicle’s health, and take good care of your transmission. Regular check-ups, too, are important, and you should always ask your provider about transmission health to extend your vehicle’s life.

  • Seagull6String

    #1 using transmission to slow down, this is actually one of the defined purposes of “tow / haul” mode in my 2008 truck, especially when I am towing and going down a grade, it helps maintain the set cruise speed instead of letting it speed up. And it helps prevent smoking the brakes. For these reasons I disagree with your #1. Same is true of the eyesight feature in my 2016 Subaru.

    • ProClip USA

      Hi Seagull6String! Thanks for reading our article and sharing your insight. Opinions are always appreciated.

      • Seagull6String

        PS – unless someone comes up with a better way, you have me as a customer for life. There is a ProClip in every car I drive.

  • mscibetta

    Another advantage to using your parking break, especially with rear disk breaks, the engagement of the parking break helps re-adjust the calipers as the break pads wear away.