How to Use the Accelerator in an Automatic Car

Learning how to use the accelerator in an automatic car takes time and practice. Practice in as many varied conditions as you can to gain the maximum experience.

From the two foot pedals, the accelerator is usually the smaller of the two and is the pedal on the right side that’s operated with your right foot.

When driving, always wear shoes that will provide you with the best control of the vehicle. Shoes should be secure and not at risk of slipping off and ideally have a reasonably thin sole. A thin sole will enable you to better sense how much pressure you’re applying to the foot pedals. Let’s start off with foot position.

Proper Foot Position

For optimal control over the accelerator pedal, rest the heel of your right foot onto the floor and press the the pedal using the ball of your foot.

How to use the accelerator pedal in an automatic car

The best foot position for operating the accelerator pedal in your automatic car should be to rest the heel of your right foot on the floor and press the peal using the ball of your foot.

We’ll now explain some other situations where you’ll need to learn how to use the accelerator pedal, specifically using an automatic car. The accelerator pedal is also called the ‘throttle’, or the ‘gas pedal’.

Moving Off from a Stationary Position

The great thing about automatic cars is that they don’t stall and they don’t have a manual clutch that you need to learn. Moving off from a stationary position on a level road is a simple procedure that requires applying the foot brake with your right foot, selecting drive (D) on the gear selector, releasing the parking brake and applying gently pressure to the accelerator pedal.

Accelerator pedals are very sensitive, so only apply a small amount of pressure. Ease n’ squeeze until you’ve reached the desired speed, then release some pressure from the gas pedal to maintain a steady speed.

Moving Off on a Hill

Moving off on a hill can be a little more challenging, but is still a considerably easier process in an automatic car. During a driving test, there’s a very good chance that the examiner will want to see you safely complete a hill start.

A hill start is similar to moving off as normal; from a parked position and assuming you have the parking brake on, select drive on the gear selector and apply a little pressure to the accelerator pedal. If you have a rev counter, around 1500 RPM or so will be fine. You should also feel and perhaps hear the car straining to move forward. Now release the parking brake and apply a little more pressure to the gas pedal.

Driving Round Corners

Most modern cars come equipped with stability features that automatically help to prevent loss of control. Even with these safety features, you should be cautious applying too much throttle when traveling around corners. Cars are at their most stable when going in a straight line.

When you drive around bends, due to momentum your car essentially wants to continue in a straight line – it’s only the grip of your front tyres on the road that allows it to follow the road. If you start accelerating while going round a corner, the weight of your car shifts to the back meaning there’s less grip on the front tyres.

Always lose any excess speed before you enter a corner and only use the accelerator slightly to maintain your current speed. This is even more important if the roads are wet.

Eco-Driving

Eco-driving stands for economical driving and is a driving style that’s intended to save fuel, reduce wear on your vehicle and is more environmentally friendly due to less toxic exhaust emissions being produced.

You wont specifically fail a driving test if you don’t demonstrate eco-driving, but a smooth drive whilst considering your fuel consumption and the environment will certainly be pleasing for the examiner.

Consider your use of the accelerator when slowing down or stopping. If you see traffic slowing down or stopping on the road ahead, rather than keeping your foot on the gas pedal, then coming off it and straight onto the brake to slow down, ease off the accelerator to allow your car to slow down using engine braking. Engine braking is where the car slows itself down when you come off the gas pedal.

This requires good anticipation of traffic events happening ahead, but using this technique means you’ll spend less time on the accelerator saving you money on fuel and less time on the brakes, causing less wear on the brake pads.

Fast Acceleration

On occasions we may require fast acceleration for example; getting up to speed on a dual carriageway slip road or overtaking another vehicle.

To accelerate a faster rate than normal, it usually requires changing down a gear or two. On automatic cars, this is easily achieved by sharply pressing down the accelerator pedal. This is called ‘kick-down’ and simply requires you to quickly push the accelerator all the way down to the floor. The transmission will respond to this action and automatically select the appropriate lower gear for the best acceleration.

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