What are the speeds in automatic transmission mean?

My car is 6 speed automatic. When I move the shift to “D” for driving, I can pull the stick to the left for + and - , what are they? When I push it up or pull it down, I get numbers ranging from 6 to 2, what are these numbers? It seems when I set it at 3, the car makes a little noise and the RPM goes higher when climbing mountains. But what exactly do these numbers mean? and the + and - sign? In what condition do I use them? For 6? for 5? for 4? etc…

The +/- position is where you put the shifter if you want to change gears manually, just like a manual transmission minus the clutch. When in automatic, the computer determines the optimum shift points. But if you like to do it yourself, use the manual mode. This allows you to keep it in a lower gear if you like and rev it to red-line. It lets you accelerate faster and when slowing down for a corner or something, you can drop it into a lower gear to prepare to accelerate out. Most of the time you’d be better off leaving it in auto mode. The numbers are the gear the transmission is in while in manual mode. Lowest number is the lowest gear, with top gear being 6th.

The number is the gear you are in. Higher number=higher gear. You really need to read the manual for your car. If you are descending a steep hill, you should consider downshifting the transmission to a lower gear to help with keeping the car at a safe speed. If you do this, you also have to pay attention to the engine speed (RPM) so that you don’t over-rev the engine.

If you don’t understand this very basic thing about your car, you should probably just leave it in “D” when you drive.

pepito, have you ever ridden a bicycle with de-railer gears?

Don’t feel the need to use the ‘manumatic’ function, for 99% of your driving it’s unnecessary, just leave it in D. I would only use it when descending a long hill, shifting to a lower gear to control speed. Once down the hill, put it back in D.

You either need to read your owners manual, or you need to not use that function on your car.


Or both (read the manual and don’t use the manual shift function).

It means
you’ve never read the owner’s manual.



Then get some of those sticky book mark tabs from the office supply and tab some important areas in the manual for quick reference.
– transmission opperation
– fuse panel location and circuit identification
– jacking instructions
– maintainance intervals
and others as you read and see that you might want to know them in the future.

AND, Don’t attempt to use that function if you have no clue,
because you really don’t need to do anything but put it in drive.

I’m going to agree with those that say you should just leave it in “D” and let the car select the proper gear. The car will do a great job with gear selection all by itself.

Meanwhile, reading the Owners’ Manual may give you a lot of other necessary information that you need to keep the car running good for years on end and to use it’s other features. You should definitely do this.

It sounds like you really don’t understand what a transmission does, which is a bit much to explain here, but I’ll make a few quick comments. Your car needs to be in lower gears (like first) at lower speeds and higher gears (like sixth) at higher speeds. Roughly speaking, this is because the speed of the car can vary widely but the speed of the engine (the RPMs) can’t vary as much. The amount of power the engine can provide at various RPMs is also a factor. When you’re in automatic mode (D) and you accelerate from a stop to highway speed, your transmission will automatically shift through all of the gears (usually), starting from first and ending in sixth. In general, your transmission will automatically choose the appropriate gear for the speed and amount of acceleration you’re doing at any given time.

There are two reasons to use manual mode instead. The first reason, which probably doesn’t apply to you, is for a knowledgeable driver to drive in a sportier fashion. By choosing a gear that’s one or two gears lower than what the automatic mode would have chosen, you get more acceleration, at the cost of using more gas. The second reason, which may apply to you from time to time, is to use a lower gear when going down a long hill in order to keep your speed under control without overusing your brakes.

If you had a true manual transmission, you’d have to be careful about doing two bad things to the engine. First, if you choose a gear that’s too low, you could cause the engine to run at more RPMs than it’s designed for, which could destroy it quickly. Second, if you choose a gear that’s too high, you could cause the engine to lug, which isn’t good for it, or even to stall. An automatic transmission in manual mode usually has built-in protection to prevent you from doing either of these things, but you need to check your owner’s manual to be sure before you play around with this feature.

thank you for you comments :slight_smile:

ps. reading my manual now xD

There’s a third reason. For getting ready to blow past that slow SOB when the passing lane opens up.

Just kidding guys. Couldn’t resist.

Good job!

My brother-in-law who lives in the State of Vera Cruz had an old Beetle supplied by the sugar cane factory where he was employed as an inspector. He drove all over the place, every day, all day, on horrid, rocky mountain roads, setting up harvest schedules for the cane crop. He put like half a million miles on that Beetle. At one point, the thing collapsed in the middle, and he had it welded back together and kept on going.

Then, they gave him a Chevy, a small Mexican car. He put hundreds of thousand miles on that one. They are probably the most common replacement for the Old Beetle which ceased production in 2003, not for lack of demand, but manual assembly cost too much.

Always manual transmission. When he retired, bought a used Dodge, US built, with an automatic.

He always shifts it like a manual. Starts out in 1, then shoves it up to 2, then too D. He just can’t let go of a million or miles on a manual.