All geared up

by Hector Tan (htan@sph.com.sg)
published on 12 February 2016

Your guide to your car's automatic gear transmission

Automatic gear transmission technology has come a long way ever since it was first conceptualized in the 1930s.

THE DIFFERENT TYPES Traditional automatic Also known as: Torque converter automatic or triptonic. Uses a computer controlled clutch to change gears. Widely considered to be the least fuel efficient as the gear-shifting takes a few seconds

Semi automatic Also known as: Automated manual, clutchless manual, automatic shift gearbox (ASG). Functions like a manual gearbox, except that gear switching is done automatically without having to engage any clutch pedal.

Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT)Also known as: Multitronic, belt-and-pulley. An efficient technology that does not use gear cogs nor fixed ratios to change speeds, providing smooth transitions at both high and low speeds.

Dual-clutch automatic Also known as: Direct-shift gear (DSG), powershift, twin-clutch automatic. Uses two different computer controlled clutches to control odd-numbered and even numbered gears respectively, which gives a quicker response time with faster gear switching.

MAINTENANCE Automatic gearboxes are complex and would require the expertise of a professional to maintain. Check the gear transmission fluid levels and send your car for checks regularly based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.This avoids the risk of damage from prolonged wear and tear.

HOW TO USE THE DIFFERENTGEAR MODESP (Park): Prevents the car from moving, usually when stopping for a long time or parking. N (Neutral): No gear is engaged but the car is able to roll freely. Usually used if the car has to be towed. Not recommended for normal driving.

R (Reverse): Used to drive the car backwards.

D (Drive): Engages the car through its range of available gears. Gear ratios are usually at 4 or 5, or higher.

3 (Third): Engages the car in the third gear transmission. Recommended when driving downhill.

2 (Second): Limits the car to the first two gears. Useful only when climbing steep slopes or when driving  on slippery surfaces like snow or ice.

1 or L (First or Low): Engages the car in first gear. Slower than the second gear but higher in power. Usually used when going downhill to remove the need to step on brakes constantly.

OTHER MODESS (Sport) Similiar to the 'D' mode with faster acceleration and deceleration.

M -/+ (Multimode Manual) Overrides current automatic gears elections and allows drivers to manually shift gears up or down. Useful when there is a need to quickly change the car’s acceleration or deceleration speed, or when more power is needed.

W (Winter) The mode uses the second gear to prevent wheel spinning when driving on slippery surfaces, like snow or ice.

B (Brake) Applies engine braking to the car while moving. Useful when going down steep slopes. Look out for our special supplement tomorrow in The StraitsTimes on car dealers to go to forgreat deals.

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