Automatic cars are seen as the archetypal luxury vehicles. There was a time when telling people that you drove an automatic was the ultimate boast! There is something superior about automatic vehicles as they are designed to make driving a better experience. Controlling the car is easier with no noisy gear changes- the whole interior control system is completely different to a manual car.
But regardless of whether you are learning to drive an automatic or a manual car it is important for you to learn exactly the same driving skills: The criteria for passing your driving test is the same. Although we have already looked at Manual Versus Automatic in the Want Driving Lessons Blog, here is a little more detail about what to look out for in an Automatic vehicle:
The Gears: In a manual car you will be used to having a regular gear stick. One of the first things you will first notice when getting into an automatic car is this difference. The gear stick is not a gear stick in an automatic car- it is called a ‘Gear Shifter’. You will find this on the floor between the seats. There will be a combination of numbers as well as letters on the top of the lever. One will be a ‘P’ for ‘Park’. This is the position that the lever will be when the car is off. Below this there will be an ‘R’ for ‘Reverse’. Then an ‘N’ for ‘Neutral’ and a ‘D’ for ‘Drive’.
You will also see some numbers below the ‘D’ position- a way of changing gears if you need that- but this varies from car to car.
Pedals: In a regular manual car you will be used to having three pedals to drive the car. The gas, brake and clutch pedals. But in an automatic car there are only two. The pedal on the right is the gas and the wider sized brake on the left is the brake. It is a good idea to experiment with the controls so you have an idea of how they work before you drive any distance.
Steering: The layout of the car controls in an automatic is obviously very different to a manual one. You will have the steering wheel in front of you but the indicator signal and windscreen wipers will be to the right of the steering column.
Starting the car for the first time, you need two things to happen: The car’s gear shifter must be in the ‘P’ position and secondly you will need to have one foot on the brake. This is completely different compared to manual cars when the gear must be in first for the car to start. You can then turn the key/press the ignition button to start the car.
Getting used to using only your right foot for both the brake and gas will take a while but will be beneficial in the long run as it means you wont keep your foot on the brake as you drive- a bad habit that automatic drivers can fall into.
Ask your Want Driving Lessons Qualified Driving Instructor about taking Automatic Driving Lessons with us!