Q: How does the automatic transmission work?

asked by on December 15, 2015

How does the automatic transmission work?

Automatic transmissions are simpler to operate than manual transmissions are, but you should still be familiar with how they work.

  • The shift indicator in the dash shows you the gear selected. You can also see this on the gearshift between the seats.

  • If the D indicator is flashing, it means there’s a problem with the transmission. If the Check Engine light comes on in conjunction with the D light, your car needs immediate service.

  • To shift out of park, press the brake pedal, and pull in on the release button on the gearshift handle. Pull the handle backward to reverse, or drive.

  • Park, reverse, neutral and drive should be familiar to all drivers. However, the other gears might not be:

    • D3: This gear is designed for towing – press the release lever on the handle to shift from drive to D3.
    • 2: The transmission will be locked into this gear (it won’t upshift or downshift) until you manually shift back to D3, drive or another gear. It’s used for steep inclines and slick surfaces.
    • 1: This locks the transmission into first gear (it won’t upshift or downshift). It’s primarily used for very steep inclines.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

How Long Does Clutch Fluid Last?

Clutch fluid in most vehicles is the same as what is used in most brake systems, brake fluid. The fluid over time will get contaminated with moisture, dirt, debris, and internal clutch master and slave cylinders wear materials. All of...

How do I adjust the terrain management?

The terrain management allows you to choose the best driving mode for your vehicle: Normal, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Grass/Gravel/Snow. To set the mode, rotate the Terrain Management knob to the desired setting. Be sure to rotate the knob back to...

Mechanic Says its Motor Mount, but...

Hello. The struts have no connection whatsoever with the engine or transmission mounts. At 70,000 miles, it is not likely motor mounts will have failed UNLESS tremendous loads have been consistently put on the engine through, for example, abrupt acceleration....

Problems with idle

Unfortunately, this is something that older cars suffer from. Vacuum lines are made of rubber. Over time, the rubber in the engine compartments begins to get hard and brittle. Once this happens it no longer performs its job properly and...

How does the immobilizer work?

There is an optional security feature that recognizes your specific key. This means that is the ignition is turned to the ON or ACC position and the correct key is not present, the vehicle will not start. This prevents the...

Have to crank the engine a few times to get it to start.

Engine temperature can significantly affect vehicle components - especially electronics. An engine that won't start when hot usually indicates a problem in one of the vehicle's many circuits. Heat can cause thermal expansion and contraction, as well as increased electrical...

How do I turn the trailer sway feature on or off?

The trailer sway is a safety feature that helps keep a trailer from swaying when you are towing. You can turn the feature on or off with just a few steps: 1. Press the Up/Down buttons on the steering wheel...

My car won't start, not even let me inside the car- unlock it, where do I tow it? What do I do?

Hi Dani. Thanks for contacting us today. If you are a member of AAA, you should call them and they will send over a tow truck. Even if the vehicle can't be opened, they can usually get the vehicle on...

Frozen radiator

Hi Becky. Thanks for contacting us today. When it gets extremely cold, it's quite common for cars to have difficulty starting. It's likely that the root issue was a battery with low cranking amps, but it's a smart idea to...

Related articles

A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX
The The Subaru Impreza is already a popular and sporty model, but when you look at the 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX, it’s no wonder that people love it. This performance model adds a lot of features that help keep it...
A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Toyota Highlander
While While the original Highlander was more of a wagon than an SUV, the 2012 Toyota Highlander is an entirely different beast. It’s large enough to compete with the cargo and passenger capacity of a Honda CR-V, but it’s small...
A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Kia Sportage
The The 2012 Kia Sportage is a compact Sub that offers quality, reliability, and great fuel economy. It has lots of nice features that come standard, an available turbocharged engine, and a sleek looking style that make it attractive to...