What Does 1 2 3 Mean In An Automatic Car? Understanding The Auto Transmission Of Your Car

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What does 1 2 3 mean in an automatic car

Many people are unaware of the similarities between manual and automatic transmission in cars. Just as we have gear switches from 1, 2, 3,4, and 5 in manual transmission, the auto transmission has only 3 switches and these switches help in transitioning from one situation to another.

So, What Does 3, 2, and 1 Means in Automatic Car?

3 simply means normal or drive, 2 and 1 will automatically force the transmission to remain either in the first gear which is 1, or the second gear, which is 2.

The Use Of 3, 2,1 In Automatic Car Operations- When You Should Use 1,2, Or 3 Auto Gears

The first gear (1) is great for driving up steep or hilly terrain. The 3,2, and 1 gear in automatic cars will limit the functionality of your car. If you select the “1” for instance, the car’s gearbox will only use the first gear. If you choose the “2” option, the gearbox will use both first and second gears. If you select “D”, then the gear will use all available gears.

You may be asking yourself the question; when should I use gear 1, 2, or 3? When you are driving down the hill, for instance, you will discover that gravity will assist you. In this case, you will find yourself applying the brakes more to slow down the vehicle.

If you switch to “2”, the operations of your car will be limited to the second gear hence the car engine will resist any increase in speed. Instead of using your gas to propel your car as in the case of gear 1, you will be using friction in turning your engine on, in the case of gear 2. It will be a lot easier to continue cruising in 2 or 3 instead of braking too often with gear 1. Gears 2 and 3 are more useful when you are not descending a hill.

D or D3 is the fourth gear and it is useful for highway driving. You may want to lock up your gear in D or D3 when you are driving around town or city. The D gear operates at a low speed and it helps you achieve a higher rev, which in turn will produce a better response from your car.

What Are The Benefits And Cons Of Automatic Cars Over Manual Cars?

Many people find automatic cars more convenient or easier to drive. When you learn to drive in an automatic car, you will concentrate more on your speed and the position of your car on the road as opposed to a manual car where you still have to pay attention to your gears.

Since modern automatic cars do have a minimum of 4 gears with some having as many as 8 gears, they are more efficient and more reliable than manual cars.

Automatic transmissions are less manual restrictive. While most new drivers believe it is best to keep both hands on the steering always, this could be possible only with automatic cars but not with manual cars where you use a hand to change gears more often.

Automatic transmission will greatly reduce the risks of stalling. Accidental stalling can be embarrassing when they occur unexpectedly. Such stalling is very rare for those who drive automatic cars. Automatic cars are much easier to use in heavy traffic.  When using a manual transmission car, more work will go into starting, accelerating, decelerating, and stopping operations. The constant starting and stopping of manual cars become a problem, especially in heavy traffic areas.

The demerits of automatic vehicles are worth mentioning. For instance, if you pass your driving test with automatic driving, your license will only allow you to drive automatic cars. Some people do want a licensed that will cover both automatic and manual cars, hence this will be a huge issue.

Another disadvantage of using an automatic car is that it is more expensive to purchase, even when it is second-hand and not new. Automatic transmission cars are more expensive to maintain due to their more complex nature and more expensive parts. Auto cars even take more time to repair, thus causing the driver more time to maintain in the long run.

What Are The Benefits And Demerits Of Manual Car Over Automatic Cars?

While automatic cars offer more convenience and flexibility, manual cars may offer some benefits that cannot be found in auto cars.

Better fuel efficiency is another benefit a manual car has over an automatic car. The manual transmission has a less complex structure, they weigh less, and also come with more gears than the automatic. The result of all these is that you will have more kilometers covered from your petrol than what you will get from an automatic car. Manual transmission can save a driver between 5 and 15% on costs of fuel.

Manual cars are much cheaper to maintain. With all the added features included in an automatic transmission, it can cost you a lot more to run an auto car in the long run. Manual cars will require much fewer maintenance costs and time, though the manual clutch may become a big issue.

Manual cars are less likely to be stolen, even though they have fewer security installations than auto cars. With the increasing number of automatic transmissions finding their ways into the roads, it means an automatic car will attract more attention than manual cars hence there is a good chance that a manual transmission is one way to drive away potential thieves.

Manual transmission cars offer better control. While automatic cars are designed for switching gears and applying one most appropriate for different situations, shifting to higher gear can lead to a waste of engine power. Manual transmissions will give a driver greater control of a car because it is built to respond to different conditions as they come. You can also use a lower gear if you want to add a boost of power.

One disadvantage of a manual transmission is that it can be more difficult to learn and aside from that it will take a longer time to learn than automatic transmission. Another main disadvantage is that you are required to do all gear changes manually. Driving a manual car in a heavy traffic situation can be more hectic because you have to constantly stop and start and change gears manually.

Getting More From Your Automatic Gear

Improving your automatic car transmission is important if you want to get the most out of it. Make sure you verify the condition of your car’s automatic transmissions. Ensure there is no leaking fluid and service the auto transmission. You can service your auto transmission by placing wheel chocks around rear tires, then raise the vehicle with a floor jack before placing your jack stands.

Get a creeper and go under your car and locate an oil pan, then place a drain pan under the transmission oil pan and then drain the excess fluid out. Remove bolts of the transmission pan, oil filter, and scrape off the old gaskets. Use your torque wrench to tighten the bolts from the inside of the pan, then re-torque the bolts to a 12-foot pan. Fill the transmission before restarting the engine.

You can also get more from your auto transmission by changing your driving habits. For instance, you should start with a road test and analyze your data to understand what you should do. Secondly, you should learn to drive with lower gears when the car is loaded. You can put the transmission in “overdrive” when it has no load. Make sure you use the correct transmission even while towing.

You must maintain engine performance if you want to get the most from your automatic transmission. The Coolant in your radiator for instance will start boiling when the engine gets hot, and this can cause transmission fluid to disappear speedily inside the radiator. When the transmission oil is used up, the transmission is no longer cleaned effectively. The clutches may wear out and you wouldn’t get efficient transmission output. This is one reason you must check the radiator, engine, and fluid regularly.

Make sure you have the proper alignment of tires. Alignment of tires will determine to a large extent your transmission delivery. All these simple rules will ensure that you get the best delivery from your automatic transmission.

Most importantly, ace your permit test and learn to drive at Zutobi.com that teaches you everything there is about driving and driver safety


It is quite easy for anyone to jump into an automatic vehicle and start driving it without first checking if the car is the right option for them. Test-driving a car before purchasing it and even after carrying out any repair and maintenance work, are very important. Using the appropriate gear when your car is loaded and when not loaded is also important as it helps achieve great delivery and response from the car. Gears 1,2, and 3 in automatic cars do have several protocols for which they operate at their best, you should be aware of such.

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