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As the name suggests, an automatic car requires less interaction with gears. A shifter, on the other hand, is another world apart and is quickly becoming a fossil, barely on the market these days. Everyone now drives in an automatic transmission or, better still, in an electric car. So how should you manage the gears in such an automobile? Can you shift gears while driving an automatic car?

A close up view of an automatic car gear stick. Photo: Karl Tapales
Source: Getty Images

Did you know that the first car ran on steam? Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot built it for the French army with a speed of just 2.5 mph. Cars today run on fuel and electricity, with some having a manual transmission and some having an automatic transmission. According to the current trajectory, the latter appears as the future of cars.

People have many questions about the proper use of these cars, including how gears should be engaged. They want to know: “Can you shift in automatic mode while driving?”

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Can you shift gears while driving an automatic car?

The main ideology of an automatic transmission is that you don’t have to worry about changing gears while driving. Instead, the automatic transmission is computer-controlled to keep the engine running at optimum rpm (rpm).

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The car does this automatically for you as you accelerate and decelerate. The transmission automatically upshifts each time the rpm increases. You’ve probably noticed the extra gears and are wondering when to engage.

It is important to note that you can change some gears when driving an automatic car since you have other low and high gears. However, it would help if you never touched certain moving gears, as this could seriously damage your engine.

The good thing is that most modern cars lock you into your current gear while driving and you can’t shift gears. This is a protective mechanism to prevent mechanical problems.

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How to change gear manually in an automatic car?

Can you shift gears while driving an automatic car
Close up of a modern luxury car automatic gearbox lever. Photo: Marin Tomas
Source: Getty Images

You need to know how to shift gears in your car before going ahead with the move. Since cars are made differently, the shifter may be a button or something that mimics the traditional gear shift on a manual car.

Therefore, depending on what you have, you have to move the gear lever to the desired gear or press the desired button. Be sure to release the accelerator pedal while doing so.

What gears should you change when driving an automatic car?

Automatic cars are different and have different speed modes. They will usually have a sport mode, economy mode or variants. You can shift between gears while riding without worry, but you need to make sure you only do so when the time is right.

What gears should you not change while driving an automatic car?

Even though an automatic transmission is easy to drive, given the lack of a shifter, there are a few things you should keep in mind when driving the car. For example, what happens if you accidentally shift gears while driving?

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First of all, there are gears in the automatic car that you should never shift into while driving. For example, never shift into park or reverse while driving, as this can destroy your engine. The good thing is that automatic cars are programmed to prevent you from doing this.

Can you go from D to S while driving?

You can switch from driving mode to sport mode while you are driving, but when the time is right. For example, when your automatic car reaches a certain rotation per minute, it knows the right moment to shift into high gear. However, if you want sport mode, you can do it manually if your car supports it.

All you need to remember when switching to sport mode is to avoid doing so by pressing the accelerator pedal. This can damage the transmission.

How to downshift in automatic transmission

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Can you shift gears while driving an automatic car
Close up of a modern luxury car automatic gearbox lever. Photo: emreogan
Source: Getty Images

The process of downshifting in an automatic transmission car is similar to that of a clutchless manual car. You can force your car into lower gears using the simplest approach of slowing down by releasing the accelerator pedal. However, if you want to engage the lowest gear in your automatic car, you can do the following to shift gears:

  • If you’re in drive mode, release your foot from the gas pedal or brakes until it slows to about 25 mph, then resume a steady speed.
  • Downgrade to “2”.
  • If the rotations per minute increase to around 4,000 or 5,000, slow down.
  • You can follow the same procedure to go to “1”. However, you must slow down to between 10 and 20 mph before changing.

The most appropriate time to use the lower gears labeled 1, 2, or L is when towing heavy loads, climbing a steep grade, and descending a steep grade. When towing a heavy load, you can damage your car if you try to go at high speed. Therefore, it is better to use the low speed function on your automatic car.

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On the other hand, you must drive at low speed when going up a steep slope. Using lower gear while descending a steep heel is also beneficial, although most people don’t realize this. It saves your breaks.

Is it bad to put an automatic in neutral while driving?

It would help if you never shifted from drive to neutral while in motion. Shifting into neutral stops the flow of fuel to the engine, which reduces control of your car because you can’t use engine gears to slow down. This way you can only rely on the main brakes, putting more pressure on them.

Also, since you have less control over the car, it won’t be easy to control in a situation where you need to react quickly.

At what RPM should an automatic transmission shift?

There is no fixed number and it all depends on your car. Modern automatic automobiles will shift at low revs if the acceleration is weak. But, of course, the gears will change if you’re at full throttle. It is also important to note that the figure depends on the engine. Diesel engines produce maximum power at much lower rpm than gasoline engines.

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Many have asked, “Can you shift gears while driving an automatic car?” Ultimately, you can change gears while driving for some gears, but you can’t for some. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the gears of your automatic transmission car to know which ones to avoid. The advantage is that your car will automatically prevent you from doing the wrong thing while driving.

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