Last Updated on September 22, 2020
Maybe one day, the entire world will be traveling in the same kind of self-driving cars. Until then, the cultural differences revealed by this industry will continue to be very noticeable.
The type of car you drive depends on the country you live in.
Almost 96% of American car owners drive cars with automatic transmission, while in Europe, everyone learns to drive a stick shift.
Even if it is much harder to learn to drive on a manual car, the vast majority of Europeans still opt to buy a manual transmission car when it comes time to buy their first vehicle: they are cheaper, require less maintenance, consume less fuel, and are fun to drive.
On the other hand, automatic cars are convenient, easier to drive, and more comfortable. It’s just a matter of preference.
However, the fact that automatic transmission cars are so easy to drive means that people who learn to drive in one of those are far worse prepared than others. Since they often don’t fully understand the mechanics behind the driving of a car, a few critical mistakes can be made.
Here are 8 things you do that might damage your automatic car!
1. Don’t drive your car through deep waters
Automatic transmissions need to have vents to release the pressure from the expansion of the fluids –transmission fluids expand as they get hot.
If you drive your car through deep waters, the vent will suck water into the transmission of the car and destroy it completely. Depending on the amount of water it sucks in, there’s a slight chance that the transmission will be able to flush it out and avoid damage. But you don’t want to risk it.
2. Don’t leave it in Drive if your idling for a long time
If you are going to be stuck for a while inside your car waiting for someone else or making a phone call, you have to options: you either just shut the car off, or you put in Park. Don’t keep it in Drive. Just don’t.
When your car is stopped for a long time in Drive, it may lead to overheating of the inside of the transmission.
3. Don’t shift into Park while the car is moving
Modern automatic vehicles won’t let you shift into Park until the car stops completely. And for a very good reason. If you do it, you may damage the locking pin (or break it) that locks your car in position.
The car parking mode was meant to keep your car from moving, not to stop it. So, if you drive an older car, make sure you don’t make this mistake.
Additional tip: you should always pull up the parking brake before putting it into parking on the gear selector. This will prevent the car from moving between these two actions if you are parked on a hill, for example. These are small habits that are easy to establish and can increase the lifespan of your car.
4. Change your transmission fluids
Although most manufacturers tell you that you don’t need to replace automatic transmission fluids under normal driving conditions in recent models, some experts strongly disagree.
Modern synthetic transmission fluids can handle heat better and break down less.
That’s a fact. But there are still reasons to believe that dirty fluids may reduce the lifespan of your transmission. Talk to your mechanic and ask for his opinion – he will probably tell you that you should ignore the manufacturer’s recommendations and change the transmission fluid every seventy thousand miles or so.
5. Don’t shift into Neutral gear at traffic lights
This is one of the most common driving mistakes. Whether you are stationary at traffic jams or a traffic light, you should always keep the gearbox in Drive mode. This way, the engine keeps working while staying idle.
Shifting into Neutral will only cause additional stress to the gearbox and consume extra fuel once you put it back to Drive and start driving again. It is also a bit more dangerous because if, for any reason, you need to move your vehicle, it will take you much longer.
6. Don’t constantly drive with a nearly empty gas tank
If possible, you should keep your gas tank at one-quarter of its full capacity. It doesn’t matter if you drive a manual or an automatic vehicle. Driving low on gas can damage some components of your car as the debris and contaminants are sent through the fuel pump when the tank is nearly empty.
7. Don’t shift into Neutral while driving
While you think that you are being very smart and saving a considerable amount of fuel by driving down a hill in Neutral, you are actually doing more harm than good.
Sure, you may save a bit of fuel. But it will be a residual amount since most cars already cut the supply of fuel to the engine when you lift your feet off the accelerator.
Besides not saving you money, it is extremely dangerous. While in Neutral, you don’t have full control over your car since you can’t speed up nor use the engine to brake more safely.
8. Stop your car before shifting to Reverse
Make sure you always stop the car completely before shifting to Reverse. While doing a maneuver that involves moving the car back and forth several times, some people switch gears while it is still moving slightly. This puts a lot of stress into the car and wears out the transmission.
Also, be careful not to hit the gearbox unintentionally and shift to Reverse while driving down the road at a normal speed. This will destroy the transmission.
You should take good care of your car’s transmission system. Depending on your vehicle model, year, and the extent of the damage, a broken car transmission may cost you a lot of money to repair or replace – up to ,000, on average.