Automatic Car Creep Explained

What is Creep in an Automatic Car?

In an automatic car, creep occurs when either a forward or reverse gear is selected and the driver removes their foot from the brake and accelerator pedal. The car will then slowly ‘creep’ forwards or backwards depending on the gear selected.

Do all Automatic Cars Creep?

Most modern automatic cars creep forwards or backwards depending on the gear selected. Some automatic cars, including certain electric vehicles have a ‘creep mode’ which allows you to turn this feature on or off.

How do you Creep in an Automatic Car?

To creep in an automatic car:

  1. Keep your right foot firmly pressed on the brake pedal and ensure the engine is started
  2. Select a forward or reverse gear
  3. Disengage the parking brake
  4. Remove your foot from the brake pedal
  5. The car will now creep forwards or backwards depending on the gear selected

Are there Benefits to having Automatic Car Creep?

Benefits to automatic car creep is the ability to move forward in slow traffic queues without having to press the accelerator. Simply press the brake pedal to stop, slow down or take your foot off to gain speed. This means there’s no need to constantly switch between the accelerator pedal to the brake pedal.

Another benefit to automatic car creep is if you’re carrying out a manoeuvre such as parking. Due to the driver being able to accurately control slow speeds by using creep and the foot brake only, it makes controlling the vehicle’s speed much easier.

Having the ability to creep in an automatic car also means you’re less likely to roll backwards when moving off on a hill.

Why do Automatic Cars Creep?

Manual cars use a clutch to separate the engine from the gearbox. When the driver stops the vehicle, the clutch pedal must be pressed and in doing so, two friction clutch plates which are otherwise connecting the engine to the gearbox, separate from each other. The engine and the gearbox are now physically disconnected from each other, which means a manual car cannot creep.

Automatic cars work differently. Rather than a clutch, they use something called a torque converter. As with a clutch, torque converters transfer power from the engine to the gearbox, but unlike a clutch, a torque converter is never fully disconnected, which is why an automatic car creeps.

What Speed do Automatic Cars Creep?

The speed in which automatic cars creep may vary slightly depending on the vehicle and the road gradient, but a fast walking pace at around 5 mph to 6 mph is typical.

Benefits of using Creep in a Driving Test

There are benefits of using the creep function of an automatic car during an automatic driving test:

  • Easily move in slow moving traffic queues by simply using the brake
  • Use the creep function to keep driving test manoeuvres slow
  • You can stop quickly because your foot is already placed over the brake pedal
  • Less likely to roll backwards

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