Automatic Car Gear Lever

The method in which you select gears in a automatic car varies a little depending on the car you’re driving. Most modern automatic cars have a button on the gear selector lever. When you begin learning to drive in an automatic car, you’ll almost certainly be using a gear selector lever with a button such as this.

Automatic car gear lever button
Gear lever button requires pressing before selecting a gear in an automatic car

The button may be located to the side of the gear selector lever or at the rear and is often associated with mechanical gear selector systems. The button is essentially a safety feature that prevents the lever from accidentally being knocked into reverse gear.

Using the Automatic Gear Lever

  1. From a parked position, ensure the car is secure by firmly applying the foot brake with your right foot
  2. Pull the button in on the gear selector lever
  3. From ‘P’ (park), pull the lever down and select ‘D’ (drive)
  4. Now release the parking brake and you’re ready to move off

Electronic Gear Selection

Some gear selectors are electronic and are usually a feature in more expensive, higher end cars. Due to the mechanism being electronic rather than mechanical, there may not be a safety button required for selecting gears. In this example of the rotatory gear shifter, the driver simply rotates the gear selector to the desired gear.

Electronic gear selector in automatic car
Electronic gear selectors are usually a feature of more expensive cars

If a dangerous gear were to accidentally be selected, for example selecting reverse while driving forward at high speed, the system would simply ignore the command due to it being electronic.

Another type of automatic car gear lever you may see if the joystick gear shifter, or ‘monostable’ gear shift. It’s called monostable because like a joystick, whichever direction it’s shifted to, it always returns to the centre.

Joystick / monostable automatic car gear shifter
The joystick gear shifter or ‘monostable’ gear shift in automatic cars always returns to the centre

As with the rotary gear shifter, the monostable gear selector is often associated with more expensive cars. With the monostable gear selector, you simply press the button on the side of the controller and pull up, down or sideways to select the desired position.

Essentially, whichever type of gear selector you use in an automatic car, they all have the same purpose and they’re all very easy to operate.

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