Many people who own automatic cars may wonder when the right time to use low gear is. This can be confusing since having an automatic transmission means that the gears shift automatically; however, in some cases, you may find that manually switching to low gear can be beneficial to the task at hand and the performance of your vehicle. If you own an automatic transmission vehicle, understanding what low gear is and when to use it can help you maximize fuel and oil efficiency as well as better utilize your vehicle’s power for the task at hand.
How your transmission normally works
The automatic transmission in your car is computer-controlled and programmed to keep the engine running at an optimum RPM (revolutions per minute). Whenever the RPM level increases above the top limit, the transmission automatically shifts into a higher gear so that the engine will turn slower under the same power. When the RPM level decreases beyond the low limit (the engine is turning too slow), the transmission automatically shifts into a lower gear so that the engine will turn faster under the same power. Varying the way you drive can help you control when and how the car shifts gears.
Why would you want to manually shift into a lower gear?
Shifting to low gear basically makes your car engine stay in low gear even when the speeds would generally have the engine shifting to a higher gear. This provides less speed and more torque from the engine that can give your vehicle more staying and towing power. Many owners of cars with automatic transmissions never use their vehicle’s low gear. This is because they either do not understand its purpose or have not had occasion where it would be helpful. However, if you understand how to use it and what low gear is for, you may find that it would be helpful. Below are some reasons to use low gear in an automatic vehicle.
1. Towing Heavy Loads
If you are pulling a large boat or you have a truck and the flatbed is loaded down with heavy equipment or supplies, you could damage your transmission if you don’t drive in “low gear.” This is because your transmission is programmed to operate and shift under the manufactured weight of the vehicle. When you significantly change the weight, it can have adverse effects on the transmission. Using low gear to tow heavy loads ensures that the entire transmission keeps the engine running at higher RPMs in order to handle that heavier load.
2. Steep Inclines & Declines
Another reason that drivers of automatic vehicles may choose to shift manually to low gear is during times of driving on steep hills or mountains. Shifting your engine manually to low gear while driving up a steep hill can help give your car a little more power, or engine torque, to make the climb without stressing the engine. Conversely, driving in low gear as you descend a steep hill can help you stay slow and steady without riding your brake or burning up your transmission.