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Driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission seems pretty straightforward, right? Just put into “Drive”, take your foot off the brake pedal, and go. How hard can that be? Well there are some driving habits that people often do which can reduce the fuel economy, cause excessive wear, and end up costing you in the long run. Here are 5 things you would not do when driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission.

 

  1. Don’t Coast With It in Neutral

Let’s say that you’re driving on a flat road and at the end of the road it a stop sign. You put the shifter into the “neutral” position and your thinking is that you save fuel by not having any load on the engine. That’s wrong thinking. Modern vehicles actually don’t use any fuel when coasting and in “drive” (or in a gear in the case of a manual transmission). The vehicle’s ECU shuts off the fuel injectors and lets the momentum of the vehicle continue to turn the engine while also providing some deceleration while you’re in gear.

Another reason to not put the vehicle into neutral while coasting is that it takes away some of your control. If you need to accelerate again, it will take you longer to do so by having to move the shifter back into the “drive” position. Also sometimes you may be briefly distracted and “forget” to put the shifter back into the “drive” position and you may panic because of the fact that your vehicle is no longer accelerating.

 

  1. Come to a Complete Stop

We’ve all done it before. We’re impatient and we shift the car from “drive” to “reverse” (or vice versa) before the vehicle actually comes to a complete stop. Doing this can result in premature wear and failure of components inside the transmission. An automatic transmission was never designed to stop a vehicle, that’s the job of the brakes. Replacing worn out brakes is an easy job that can cost as little as $200 but replacing a broken part inside a transmission can start at $2,500. So which amount do you prefer paying?

 

  1. Don’t Launch the Vehicle

What I mean by that is, don’t rev the engine while in “neutral” and then pop the shifter into “drive”. Inside an automatic transmission are clutch packs and clutch bands that use friction to move certain parts when shifting. Revving the engine and then immediately putting the transmission into drive causes those clutch packs and clutch bands to prematurely wear out and what happens over time is that the clutches lose their ability to hold friction and the automatic transmission begins to slip while in gear. The clutches themselves are not expensive pieces but it is expensive to take an automatic transmission out of a vehicle and then tear it down to reach the clutches that require replacing.

 

  1. Don’t Put it Into “Park” While Moving

When the transmission is in “park”, there’s a notch that engages and prevents the vehicle from rolling. If the vehicle is still moving, however, it is very easy to break that notch inside the transmission. And, as mentioned earlier, it is a difficult and expensive job to take out a transmission out of a vehicle to replace a small part that costs no more than $30.