Being A True Gearhead: Know Your Automatic Gear Shift Letters

July 1st, 2022 by

Being A True Gearhead: Know Your Automatic Gear Shift Letters

No doubt driving a manual transmission car is a skill that takes time and practice to perfect. But what about automatic transmissions? For the most part, they’re pretty easy to drive; you put it in Drive and go. But you should know a few things to drive an automatic transmission car smoothly. One of those things is the different gear shift letters.

In this blog post, Mazda of Fort Walton Beach will discuss what each letter means and what happens when you shift gears.

P: Parking

This one is simple. We use it when the vehicle is parked. It effectively confines the car from moving in any direction. Although the automobile’s non-driven road wheels may still spin freely, a parking pawl prevents the gearbox from turning and hence the car from driving. However, the vehicle’s non-driven wheels can move. That is why we recommend using the hand brake since this locks the back tires and keeps them from moving.

R: Reverse.

This allows the automobile to move in the reverse direction. Engaging R requires the car to come to a complete halt in the same way as P. Many modern automatic gearboxes contain a safety feature that, to some extent, prevents the automobile from being unintentionally put in reverse while driving ahead.

N: Neutral

The letter N denotes that the gearbox is disconnected from the wheels. As a result, the automobile may travel freely under its weight. The only modes in which you can start your engine are Neutral and Park.

D: Drive

This is the most common mode when traveling at higher speeds on the highway. While in D, the gearbox will automatically shift through its gears as the automobile’s speed increases. The car will also have better acceleration in this mode.

L: Low gear

The L option effectively locks the gearbox in the first gear. In muddy situations, this selection is advantageous.

However, use it with caution after employing it. The tires may slide under the additional torque since the engine is limited to first gear. However, it is pretty efficient if you have large goods traveling uphill. The car will have more control and braking power in this mode.

S: Sport mode

This gear is for more experienced drivers. The S selection stands for “sport.” When in this position, the gearbox will remain in a lower gear longer. This results in better acceleration but also higher fuel consumption.

M: Manual mode

This is the fun one. In manual mode, you get to choose what gear you’re in! You can upshift and downshift as you please. This is great for track days or off-roading adventures. Just be careful not to redline the engine.

O/D: Overdrive

The overdrive button is the highest gear in the gearbox in general. The automatic transmission in most automobiles has three speeds, with overdrive as the fourth. Overdrive allows the car’s engine to run at a lower rpm while maintaining a higher speed, improving fuel economy.

For new and used automobiles, finance, service, and parts, come to Mazda of Fort Walton Beach in Fort Walton Beach, FL. For your shopping convenience, our dealership has a large assortment of new Mazdas, Mazda-certified pre-owned vehicles, and used automobiles.

Contact us now for all your automotive needs.

Posted in Blog