Charlotte Nabasa is one of motorists who describe cars with automatic transmissions as “sit and go.” She does not have to engage gears manually using a manual car clutch. With an automatic transmission car, all she does is steer where she is going while applying the footwork on the brake and accelerator pedals.
She also notes that when she is driving down the hill, she at times shifts the gear lever from the drive position to neutral. She reasons that this driving technique allows her save a certain amount of fuel before shifting back the gear lever back to drive when she drives up the hill.
From drive to neutral
According to Sula Kilimani, a mechanic at downtown Kisekka market in Kampala, the habit of shifting your gear lever from drive to neutral when going down a hill like Nabasa could cause one to lose control of the car. This is because the neutral gear sets the car into the free roll mode where a driver also gets their foot off the pedals. When something, say an animal or pedestrian suddenly emerges from the roadside, by the time you fidget to shift the gear lever back to the drive position from the neutral gear, there are high chances that the vehicle would have swerved, causing an accident in the process.
Reversing before stopping
This is mostly copied from movies. Sometimes you may also shift the gear lever from reverse to drive because you are in a rush. The damaging effect of reversing or driving forward before your car comes to a stop is that it will cause unforeseen wear and tear inside your transmission system.
“The transmission system of any vehicle was manufactured to receive one command of gears from the driver one after the other, but not two at ago. It simply means you are subjecting your driving shaft to wear and tear and it will not be producing inconsistent engine rotation from the gearbox to the vehicle wheel system. With time, repeated driving and reversing without allowing the car to make a complete stop wears out the driving shaft completely and this means you will spend to have it repaired or replaced,” Kilimani explains.
Driving with two feet
Unlike vehicles with manual transmissions, Charles Ofwono, a motorist advises that it is not necessary to drive an automatic car with both feet even if it is your first time.
Automatic cars have a provision where you can rest your left foot and drive using only the right one.
“If you use your two feet, you may end up stepping on the brake yet you had intended to step on the accelerator. If you are driving at a high speed, the motorist behind you might ram into your car because of pedal mix-up caused by using two feet,” Ofwono opines.
To him, the best way of driving an automatic car without causing pedal mix-up is understanding that the accelerator is always on the right and the brake on the left.
Leaving the gear lever in drive
In urban areas that sometimes experience endless traffic jam or as you wait for someone by the roadside, you could open a book or flip through a newspaper.
You could even get onto your phone and leave your gear lever in drive mode while you step on the brake pedal as you wait for traffic to move. The absurd bit of your foot holding down the brake pedal is that you might forget and take it off since the car is not moving, thinking that it’s parked and it starts moving. The outcome will be ramming into another motorist’s car or any other object that will damage your car. Even if traffic movement is unpredictable, it is always safer to move your gear lever to parking mode and shift it when traffic moves to be safer.
Don’t forget about the parking brake
Bright Side, an online portal, advises that you must be nice to your car before it responds to you with love. The portal says forgetting about the parking brake counts as mistreating your vehicle. It is a good idea for every beginner to keep in mind that even the lightest of bumper taps can damage the parking pawl if the parking brake is not engaged.
The parking pawl is a component in an automatic transmission vehicle that helps to secure the vehicle from moving. This pawl is a large metal piece that engages a notch, usually on the output shaft of the transmission, and prevents the output shaft and the vehicle from moving.
Avoid keeping your fuel tank low
The amount of fuel you maintain in your car fuel tank is mostly determined by your daily or weekly fuel budget. However, Alex Kadoli, a mechanic at Dalas Auto Garage at Bunga advises that you should not wait for your fuel gauge to light red before refuelling.
“Sometimes the fuel gauge may show that you still have fuel yet you actually do not have. It is advisable not to have less than a quarter a tank of fuel in your car to prevent the engine from stopping when you least expect it,” Kadoli explains. In addition to engine oil, enough fuel in your car does not only run your engine but it also serves as a lubricant to supplement on oil. It also prevents the bottom of your fuel tank from rusting, thus incurring more repair or replacement costs.