What Do the Numbers & Letters Mean on an Automatic Transmission Shifter?

The letters and numbers on automatic transmission shifters are perplexing for many individuals. If you're new to automatic cars, it's important to understand what they all mean to properly operate your vehicle. 


In this blog post by Sun Toyota, we'll explain what each number and letter on an automatic transmission shifter means. We'll also give some suggestions for shifting gears efficiently.



Decipher the Letters & Numbers! 

P (Park)

This is the symbol for "park." The transmission is mechanically locked in position when your car is in 'park.' You should only shift into 'park' when your vehicle is stopped and you have engaged the parking brake.



R (Reverse)

The "reverse" position is self-explanatory—it's used when you need to back up.



N (Neutral)

"Neutral" is a position where the transmission isn't connected to the drive train. In neutral, your car will coast without engaging the engine.



D (Drive)

"Drive" is the position you'll use most often. It automatically shifts between gears as you drive, so you don't have to do it yourself.



3, 2 & L (Low)

These numbers are used for manually shifting gears. You'll usually only need to use them when driving up or down a steep incline. In case you’re wondering, the 'L' stands for 'low gear,' which is kind of like first gear in a stick shift.



O/D (Overdrive)

O/D is the highest gear that an automatic car can achieve. This position is typically used at higher speeds on the highway to reduce fuel consumption and engine wear.

As you can see, there's much more to your transmission shifter than meets the eye. But don't worry, you don't need to memorize all this information. Just familiarize yourself with the basics; you'll be shifting like a pro in no time.



Is It Better To Drive In a Higher or Lower Gear?

It depends on the situation:

When accelerating, you'll want to be in a lower gear. This will give your engine more power and help you go faster. 

When cruising on the highway, you'll want to be in a higher gear. This will help you conserve fuel and reduce engine wear. 

If you're unsure which gear to be in, just listen to your engine. It will give you a good indication of when it's time to shift gears. 



What's Sports Mode?

Many new cars come with a "Sports Mode" that alters how the transmission shifts gears. Sports mode will generally cause the transmission to shift gears at a higher RPM (revolutions per minute), which can be helpful when accelerating or passing other cars on the highway. 

However, it's important to note that driving in sports mode all the time can damage your transmission and decrease fuel efficiency, so use it sparingly!

Are you looking for a car dealership in Florida to buy your new automatic car? Look no further than Sun Toyota serving Greater Carrollwood, FL. 

We have an extensive inventory of new and used cars for you to browse. You can also get approved for car financing quickly. Sun Toyota also offers service and parts – we're your all-in-one car dealership! 

Explore our inventory of new vehicles now! 

July 13, 2022
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