Automatic Transmission 2nd gear


I’m having a disagreement with my boyfriend about the use of 2nd gear with an automatic transmission. What is second gear specifically designed for? Is it to be used to take the pressure off of heavy breaking while traveling down a steep hill? Is it better to brake in (Drive) or put the car in (2nd)?? Thank you!


yes, use 2nd for descending hills where you would otherwise be riding the brakes.

with some cars, 2d is also useful for starting off on snowy or icy roads.


What is second gear specifically designed for?

It fills the gap between 1st and 3rd. Doh!

The short answer is the transmission is designed to allow the engine to stay in it’s best operating range throughout the usable speed and load ranges the vehicle will experience under normal use. Transmission are used with 2,3,4,5 or even 6 forward gears on passenger cars for example.

The transmission can be used to take advantage of engine braking. Using the engine to slow or maintain speed on a long, steep downhill grade is a technique commonly employed to keep your brakes from overheating and failing.

Which gear is used depends on the desired vehicle speed, roadway slope etc. For some grades and speeds, second gear would be appropriate on some vehicles.


Ditto to what the others have said.

From the owners manual for my wifes 02 Hyundai Sonata,emphasis mine.

“Do not ride the brakes. This can cause them to OVERHEAT & MALFUNCTION. Instead, when you are driving down a long hill slow down,and shift to a lower gear. When you do this, engine braking will help
to slow the car.”

And from the owners manual for my 87 Ranger:

"When descending a long or steep hill, shift to a lower gear and avoid continuous application of the brakes.

Continuous application will cause the brakes to overheat, resulting in a temporary DETERIORATION in braking power."

This can kill you or others on the road.

Tell your boyfriend to open his glove box, remove & read the owners manual & learn how to properly drive his car.