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Understanding the functions of the shift lever of an Automatic car

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Automatic transmission vehicles have a shift lever, but some people only use P and D.
Understanding the functions of the shift lever will allow you to use your automatic vehicle more functionally.

The Function of each range of the shift lever

Written on the shift lever of an automatic vehicle are letters, rather than numbers.
In an automatic vehicle, the letters or numbers are called the "range".
Below is a summary of each range.


RangeFunction
PPark. To be used when parking. The transmission is locked and the car will not move.
RReverse. Used to move the car backwards.
NNeutral. Used when stopped for a long time, such as in a traffic jam, and when the vehicle gets towed. This disengages the transmission from the engine, and the drive wheels are free to rotate.
DDrive. Used when driving normally.
33rd gear. Used when traveling on a winding road such as a mountain road. Because it is locked into 3rd gear, acceleration and engine braking improves, and the vehicle is much more responsive.
2 or S2nd gear (Second). Used when driving on slippery surfaces, such as rough or snowy roads, or when you want to use strong engine braking. Since the gear ratio is lower than the D range, the effectiveness of the engine brake increases.
1 or L1st gear (Low). Used to climb steep slopes or carry heavy loads and run more powerfully. Because it is locked to 1st gear, the vehicle is unable to travel quickly, however this is the most powerful range.

Other buttons

Several other buttons exist in and around the shift lever of automatic vehicles.

Operation button

The operation button is used to move the shift lever to each range.

This button is provided to prevent accidental operation.

Each range is aligned in order from P. This is to prevent the unintentional selection of R, due to too much force being applied when selecting D.

When moving from P to each range, the select lever will not move unless you simultaneously press the operation button. Similarly, when moving to the R range from any other range, it will not move unless the operation button is pressed.

However, with the key type shift lever, since there is a mechanism that prevents it from moving to each range unless it operates in a zigzag pattern, the operation button does not exist.



OD OFF button


Automatic vehicles automatically select all 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th (overdrive) ranges when D is selected.

OD is an abbreviation for overdrive, and pressing this button will not shift to overdrive (5th gear) even if you are driving in the D range.

When you press the OD OFF button, the "OD OFF" lamp will illuminate on the instrument panel, so you can check if it is pressed.

When driving on winding mountain roads, if you shift to overdrive, the vehicle becomes less responsive, and acceleration and engine braking will become less effective. In these conditions, drivers are able to push the OD OFF button to improve the vehicle’s handling.



Shift lock release button

The Shift lock release button is usually located near the select lever of an automatic car. This button is not used normally.

The transmission of automatic cars is locked so as not to move the shift lever from P unless the foot brake is stepped on when starting the engine, in order to prevent erroneous operation such as sudden unplanned departure.
However, it may be necessary to move the shift lever from P to N when the car battery goes flat or when the vehicle breaks down and you want to tow or move the car.
The Shift lock button is for this purpose.

As described above, the shift lever of an automobile has various functions besides D and P.
If you are able to understand each function, you can drive your vehicle much more effectively.

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