Cars with automatic transmission are more and more popular, both by those who already have one and by those who have recently acquired one. Driving is indeed simplified compared to a vehicle with a manual gearbox and some find it more comfortable during long journeys. Of course, driving a motorized vehicle presupposes having a valid driver's license and knowing the Highway Code.
Part 1 of 3: What to do before you start
Step 1. Unlock the vehicle
You can use a remote control or a key, and take a seat in the driver's seat.
Step 2. Before leaving, make the necessary adjustments
Adjust your seat in all dimensions: you must be comfortably seated, have everything within reach or within easy reach, you must see well all around you. Adjust the mirrors to have good visibility behind the vehicle and to the sides to determine the blind spots in the event of a lane change.
Step 3. Identify the different commands
Locate the brake and accelerator pedals, steering wheel, gear lever, headlight controls, defroster, and wiper controls.
- The brake and accelerator pedals are located on the floor. The brake pedal is the wider of the two and is on the left. The accelerator pedal is generally narrower and is located on the right.
- The steering wheel faces the driver's seat. By turning it left or right, it will turn the wheels of the vehicle.
- Usually placed to the left of the steering column, you will find the signal light (turn signal) control lever with three positions: a rest position in the center, then up or down to activate the turn signals. Finally, locate the lever to put the headlights.
- The gear lever is located either on the steering column, to the right, or on the floor between the two front seats. Near the selector, a gear indicator should be present. It is usually marked with the letters "P", "D", "N", "R" and sometimes numbers. If the selector is mounted on the steering column, these indications will be present directly at the level of the odometer, under the odometer.
Step 4. Fasten your belt
This precaution applies to all occupants of the vehicle: we drive all tied up!
Part 2 of 3: shift into forward gear
Step 1. Start the car
Place your right foot on the brake pedal and keep it pressed. Insert the ignition key then start the engine.
Step 2. Shift into gear
While keeping your foot on the brake pedal, put the gear lever in the "Drive" position. This position is often marked with a simple "D".
- If the gear selector is on the steering column, pull it toward you before moving it up or down to select a gear.
- If the selector is placed between the front seats, it will usually be necessary to press a button to unlock it. You can then select the report of your choice.
Step 3. Unlock the parking brake
It is either a lever placed between the front seats, or a pedal on the floor, on the far left. In both cases, there is a system to release the parking brake: a button to press in the first case, a small lever to pull in the second case.
Step 4. Before you start, take a look at what's going on around you
Look ahead, then behind and to the sides (watch out for blind spots!) Then look ahead so you don't run over someone.
Step 5. On the way
Gradually release the brake pedal. The vehicle will start to move forward or backward depending on the gear selected. The same foot controls the brake pedal and the accelerator. Once gone, you don't have to change gears if you are staying on the same type of road.
Step 6. Turn the steering wheel to steer the vehicle
Turn it to the left to turn the wheels to the left and to the right to turn to the right: hard to get simpler!
Step 7. Use the brake pedal to slow down or stop the car
To stop the vehicle, take your right foot off the accelerator pedal, position it on the brake pedal, then apply gradual pressure until it comes to a complete stop. When you want to move forward again, you will have to reposition your right foot on the accelerator pedal.
Step 8. Park your vehicle
When you reach your destination, brake to a complete stop by depressing the brake pedal, then return the gear lever to the "P" position. Stop the engine by turning the key to the left. Engage the handbrake and don't forget to turn off the headlights (although most cars turn them off automatically)!
Part 3 of 3: shifting to other gears
Step 1. Shift into reverse
If you must back up, the vehicle must first come to a complete stop. Put yourself in the "Reverse" or "R" position. Before starting the maneuver, make sure that there is no one behind you and on the sides nearby. As with forward travel, take your foot off the brake and gently step on the accelerator.
Remember that in reverse, the car does not turn in the opposite direction! You turn the steering wheel to the right, the car goes to the right
Step 2. Use the "Neutral" position
This position is used when you do not need to use the engine. Never ever should you use it while driving! On the other hand, if you stop for a short time to make a call, you can put it on. Or if you are pushed or if you are pulled.
Step 3. Shift into low gears
They are marked "1", "2" and "3". They can be used as an engine brake on steep slopes or if you need to go very slowly, when towing someone for example. To shift from these gears to the “D” (drive) position, there is no need to stop!
- Do not use two feet for the brake and accelerator: use only the right foot! The left foot remains on the floor.
- Drive carefully and anticipate anything that might happen in the way (car, bike, people).
- Easy on the pedals! Gradually press it down.
- Look in your mirrors all the time.
- Lock your doors when you leave your vehicle.
- Do not drive without a license and obey the Highway Code!
- Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Watch the road: don't read or write an SMS.