Using Low Gear on an Automatic Car Shift

Many motorists are under the impression that there's no need to use the low gear since the automatic gear shift shifts the gears automatically, hence its name.

However, there's more to driving than starting the car and shifting to second then third gear immediately to make it move then shifting to first gear and neutral to stop or park.

Using the lowest gear can also increase your car's performance by increasing engine power and by ensuring fuel efficiency maximization. You simply need to know when it's time to shift to low gear.

When to Use Low Gears in Automatic Transmission

When should you use the L or low gear? Here are some specific reasons and situations to remember:

  • For Towing: When you're towing a heavy load, you should put your vehicle on low gear to generate more engine power. This makes it easier to tow heavy loads or a full trailer. Auto gear cars switch gears with the changes of RPMs and speeds, which can affect your engine's wellbeing. Use your owner's manual to check your car's speed limitations for first gear and avoid crossing that limit in the middle of your towing. This will put less stress on your motor and keep the torque consistent.
  • For Riding Down a Steep Road: You can increase the risk of brake failure by using your brakes in order to slow down while riding down a steep hill or sharp road due to overheating and friction that wears down your brake pad. It's more economical to use your first gear in order to take pressure off of the brakes. You still need the brakes but you won't use them as much since the car is braking at a slower instead of higher speed. Do your braking on low gear to protect the brakes.
  • For Climbing a Steep Hill: In turn, when you're climbing a steep hill or sharp road going upwards instead of downwards, your engine has to work harder because gravity is exerting its power on it and your weighty vehicle. It's almost like you're towing something heavy behind you, except this time it's your own weight. For the same reason, you should use first gear to generate more engine power and make the task of climbing easier on your motor.
  • For Riding Down a Road: You still need to go from first gear to second gear to third gear gradually when driving. You can't rely on brakes alone to slow you down to a stop when there's a red light or transitioning to park and idle. You still need to put your car in low gear in order to assist you in your everyday driving needs, from stopping and going, without damaging your brake pad too much because you're slowing down from high gear without transitioning to low gear.

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