Do you think you’re ready to drive a car? For starters, if you’re 17 years old and has a provisional licence then it’s just a matter of completing the other requirements before you can learn how to drive a car. The feeling of excitement when you first get your hands on the steering wheel is unbelievable. No amount of studying through books or the internet can amount to the actual experience of driving a car.
However, before you can get your hands behind the wheel, you need to learn about the basics, at the very least. This article will tackle the basics of driving an automatic transmission car.
Basics Of Driving An Automatic Transmission Car
Whether you opt to drive an automatic or a manual transmission car, know that before you can start driving you should see first if you’re qualified. We all know everyone wants to drive, but not everyone is allowed.
- You have to be at least 17 years old to drive.
- You need a provisional driving’s licence.
- You must be supervised by a qualified driver (a driving instructor, or a family member or friends who meets the qualification of accompanying you to drive).
- This is not an actual qualification, but it makes sense to know the Highway Code first before you drive a car.
Please remember that all learner drivers are required to properly affix L Plates on the vehicle they’re using for driving lessons.
1. Getting Comfortable Inside
Once you go inside the car and sit on the driver’s seat, you must at all cost be comfortable before you drive. Find where the lever for adjusting the seat is (it can usually be found in the left side underneath your seat. Check the lever and adjust your seat in a way that your feet comfortably reaches both pedals. Know that you can adjust your seat in four ways; forward and backward as well as up and down.
Newer cars may have electronic controls that you can also find on the left side of the seat.
2. Identify and Familiarize the Foot Pedals?
There are only two foot pedals you must familiarize yourself with when driving an automatic transmission car, the accelerator and the brake pedals.
The accelerator pedal is the smaller one and can be found in the rightmost. This is responsible for making the car move forward or backward. The harder you press, the faster your car will move.
Meanwhile, you’ll find the brake pedal to the left; it’s the bigger pedal. It is used to slow down your car or to stop it completely.
- It is advisable to use your right foot to control both foot pedals even if you’re confident in using your left foot.
- Don’t use your right and left foot interchangeably.
- NEVER use both feet at once to control the pedals.
3. Adjust Your Car Mirrors
A car should have three mirrors; two outside or side mirrors and one rearview mirror you can find inside. These mirrors protect you from the blind spots, making it safe for you to navigate the road.
- Adjust your rearview mirror in such a way that you’ll be able to see as much of the rear windshield as possible when you’re seated in your driving position.
- The outside mirrors should be positioned outward just to overlap with the viewing angle of the rearview mirror to eliminate blind spots. This technique will help you avoid looking over your shoulder to see cars in the blind spots.
4. Know the Parking Brake (handbrake, e-brake, or emergency brake)
The parking brake, also known as handbrake, e-brake, or emergency brake, is a lever with a button at its tip. The main purpose of it is to help lock the car in place when it’s parked.
You have to disengage the parking brake before your move your car.
5. Test and Feel the Gear Stick (shift lever, gear level, shifter)
Before you start to drive, you have to familiarize yourself with the gear stick. It is commonly positioned between the two front seats just like the emergency brake. Other vehicles place their shift levers on the right side of the steering wheel.
There are letters on the shift knob, which corresponds to the type of action your car will perform. The letters and numbers you see on your gear stick are known in the automotive world as the “prindle,” which stands for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Low.
- P (Park) – When your stick shift is engaged in the Park position your car won’t move even if you start your engine and press on the accelerator.
- R (Reverse) – Your car will move backward when you position your gear stick in this position.
- N (Neutral) – Your car will be in free flow or will continue to move forward due to the natural momentum if the gear stick is positioned in Neutral.
- D (Drive) – This is the opposite of reverse as your car will move forward when you position your stick shift in Drive.
- L (Low) – Low gear is used when you go up or down a hill or when driving on steep roads. This will slow down the speed but will give your engine more torque.
6. Know the Basic Dashboard Controls/Symbols
Knowing and understanding the basic dashboard controls and symbols is beneficial when driving. While some drivers feel or hear if there’s something wrong with the car, many inexperienced drivers don’t have that same intuition. The dashboard symbols and controls are how your car is communicating with you.
- Speedometer – It tells you how fast or slow your car is traveling.
- RPM gauge – indicates how hard your engine is working. When the dial goes to the red portion of the gauge, it’s time to ease off on the acceleration.
- Fuel gauge – Simply lets you know where your fuel level is. If the dial is geared toward F, then it means your fuel is full and if it is gearing toward E, it means your fuel is about to go empty.
- Temperature gauge – This will let you know if your car is overheating. Your dial must be in the center of H (hot) and C(cold).
Once you’re familiar and comfortable with the car, you can now start driving. Remember! You must have a qualified person to accompany you if you’re a learner driver. Never drive on your own.
1. First thing’s first, put your seatbelt on! It’s not only illegal to drive without a seatbelt it is also unsafe. Seatbelts will help you, and your passenger lessen the possibility of a serious injury during a crash or an accident.
2. Put your foot on the brake pedal when you’re about to start the engine. Your car may move forward on its own if your foot is not on the brake.
3. Once you’ve started the engine, you release the parking brake, turn your stick shift to D to move forward or R to move in reverse. Slowly release your foot from the brake pedal (by doing this your car might move on its own so be careful). You can press on the accelerator pedal ever so lightly so that you can feel your car slowly moving.
How To Back Your Car
You might need to back your car out if it is parked in a car park or a driveway before you can hit the road. These are what you must know:
- You need to put your gear stick in the Reverse position. Otherwise, your car won’t go backward.
- Before releasing your foot from the brake pedal look over your shoulder and turn your head to get a better view of what’s behind you.
- If all is clear you slowly remove your foot from the brake pedal. Don’t put your foot on the accelerator.
- Removing your foot from the brake pedal will opt to get your car moving backward slowly. If you need to put your foot on the accelerator, do it lightly.
- If you need to use the brake, remember to press the brake pedal gently but firmly.
- You must remember that when your gear is on Reverse the steering wheel is also reversed. If you turn your steering wheel to the right, your car will turn to the left and vice versa.
- When shifting from Reverse to Drive remember that you need to be in complete stop by pressing on the brake pedal before you shift the gear stick.
- Once you’re in the Drive mode, you can slowly release the brake pedal and press on the accelerator pedal gently.
- Press on the accelerator pedal until you reach the speed limit, but make sure that your foot is ready to step on the brake if needed.
- Removing your foot from the accelerator pedal will help slow down the car not stop it.
How to Use the Steering Wheel
- Hold the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 o’clock position firmly. This is the best position to get full control of your vehicle.
- Do not hold the steering wheel with only one hand; you can quickly lose control if you do this.
Use Blinkers or Indicators or Turn Signals
- Use blinkers when driving. It is a way of communication with other road users.
- Turn your indicators when you intend to move in a specific direction. Turn the control to the left if you’re turning left and vice versa.
- The blinker switch is found on the left side of the steering wheel. Flick it up to turn the right signal on, flick it down to turn the left signal on.
Turning Using the Hand Over Hand Technique
- This method is used when you must make a hard turn. When you need to make a slight turn, you need to keep your hands at the 9 and 3 o’clock position.
- When you need to make a hard turn to the left, slowly but firmly turn the steering wheel counterclockwise, with your left-hand leading. When your left-hand gets to either 4 or 5 o’clock position, release it and cross it over with your right hand. Do the reverse if you’re turning to the right.
- If you need to straighten the car, simply loosen your grip, and the steering wheel will automatically move to its original position.
How to Switch Lanes?
- Switching from one lane to another is common when driving, it’s easy, but you need to remember that using your blinkers when doing the switch is a MUST.
- Indicate your intention to switch lanes at least two seconds before you do so. This gives other drivers enough time to know what you’re planning to do.
- Check your mirrors and look over your shoulder to see if there are any cars from your blind side.
- Turn your steering wheels slightly to change lanes. Do not at all cost do a full turn. Turning your steering wheel slightly is enough for you to change lanes.
Keep Your Distance
- An estimate of two to five seconds to react is a good distance from the car in front of you. The actual distance will depend on the speed of your travel.
Safety Is Priority
Here are tips to keep you and others safe on the road when driving. Remember, safety is a priority!
1. Be a defensive driver – always assume that other drivers will disobey traffic rules. Don’t assume that other drivers will follow traffic signs, use their blinkers when switching lanes, etc. If you stay alert all the time, you’ll avoid a possible accident caused by other drivers on the road.
2. Use proper lanes – stay on the right lane if you drive slowly and use only the left lane if you’re overtaking.
3. Avoid passing cars on the right side – the general rule of thumb is to use the left lane for overtaking. Drive right, pass left.
4. Follow speed limits – this is a no-brainer; speed limits are there for the safety of all road users.
5. Note weather changes – weather plays a big part in the safety of road users. You have to know how to react if suddenly, the sunny weather becomes rainy while you’re driving.
6. Be courteous and respectful – know other people are using the road. Don’t make it hard for them and yourself. Remember treat others the way you want others to treat you.
7. Stay calm – driving can be challenging and even be dangerous, but if you remain calm, you’ll find driving fun and even exciting.
If you’re a learner driver, who thinks you’re ready to take the driving test, stop! You should take a free theory mock test first. Why you ask? “Practice makes perfect!” It’s probably the simplest explanation as to why you need to do a mock test.
The government provides two practice theory tests. However, the simplicity of the tests is not enough to help you pass the actual test. It merely shows you how the test is like, but the questions provided often are too simple.
Check out this online driving lessons video below! For only $1.99 a month you’ll get to have access to many amazing animated courses for as many months as you wish: