Got an Automatic? Here’s What the Numbers & Letters on the Automatic Transmission Shifter Mean!

Suppose you've just bought a brand new automatic car, congratulations! You're about to enjoy a new level of convenience and comfort when driving. But before you hit the open road, getting familiar with the symbols and numbers on your shifter is essential. Each has a specific function, and understanding them will help you get the most out of your new car. 


Brandon Honda explains how automatic shifter works and all you need to know about automatic shifting symbols in this blog post!



How Does Automatic Shifter Work?

We all know how manual shifting works. You use the clutch to disengage the engine from the transmission. Then you move the shifter to select the gear you want. 


Automatic shifters are a lot simpler. There's no need for a clutch pedal, and you don't have to worry about matching revs when changing gear. 


Instead, the shifter controls a hydraulic or electronic system that does all the work for you - it sends a signal to the transmission telling it what gear to select. The transmission then uses hydraulic pressure or electromagnets to engage the correct gears.


Automatic transmission is much easier to use than a manual. You can keep your eyes on the road instead of looking at the gearstick.


However, understanding the basic layout of an automatic transmission shifter will help you use it more effectively.



P - Park

This is the position to use when you're stopped and getting in or out of the car. It locks the transmission so the car can't move. 



R - Reverse

Use Reverse when you want to back up. The car will move backward. 



N - Neutral

Neutral is what you use when you start the car. It's also what you use when you're stopped and Coasting (when the car is moving but your foot isn't on the gas pedal). You don't need to select Neutral in most cases unless you're starting the car.



D - Drive

You use 'D' when you want the car to move forward. The transmission will automatically shift through the Gears as you speed up. It works by matching the speed of the engine to the wheels. The transmission will automatically downshift when you slow down or stop.



3, 2, 1, or L

These are your lower gears, mostly used when going up hills or towing something heavy. 


On some shifters, there may be an L instead of the number 1. 



O/D - Overdrive 

This is the highest Gear ratio and is used for cruising on the highway. It conserves fuel and lowers engine noise.


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We’re car financing experts. If you’re looking for a new or pre-owned Honda, we have just what you need – and our team will work with you on every step to ensure you drive away happy.


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July 13, 2022
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