What's the Neutral or N gear of an automatic gearbox for? Is it the same as the neutral gear of a manual car?
Most people who drive automatic transmission cars barely even use it. They just drive their cars with the same convenience they can get from using a blow dryer. They turn it on and it goes as they push the gas pedal then they use the brake to stop and then turn it off.
It's gotten so bad that most auto transmission car drivers don't even know how to use it. This is different from manual gear drivers who use the N gear for parking, for idling, and for transitioning from slowing down to parking to moving again.
Unique Functions and Typical Uses of the Auto Neutral Gear
- Cut off Wheel to Engine Connection: Shifting to neutral in an automatic car results in the cut-off between the connection of the wheels and the engine. The momentum is slowed from the turning wheels, making your brakes more effective. No power will be transmitted to the wheels when you press the pedal and shift to N. This enables the wheels to rotate free without drawing much engine action while still having control of your vehicle.
- How Much Harm Does a Neutral Shift Give? Not much harm can be achieved from shifting to neutral save for a bit of strain on your brakes when you intend to stop your vehicle. With that said, this slight harm can be exacerbated to major damage when you make it habit to use your neutral shift as your brakes. It can specifically do significant damage to your torque converter, so know when to use the auto transmission neutral gear properly.
- Safe Parking During a Brake Failure: People usually kill the engine on an automatic transmission in order to respond to a failed or failing brake. This is the wrong thing to do because it leaves you no control over the steering wheel and the wheels themselves. What's more, it can even result in locking the wheel mechanism, which makes for a riskier situation. It's better to shift to the N gear to help toggle between lanes and park in a safe space.
- Stop Your Car with a Stuck Throttle: One of the instances where shifting to N gear comes in handy is when you have stuck throttle. Your neutral then becomes a lifesaver in such an instance. It's particularly scary to travel on an automatic while on the highway when your throttle isn't working, so you can give your brake extra stopping power by applying the N gear for good measure. This allows you to slow down, stop, and park safely ASAP. It's also safer than switching your engine off.