Let's Drive

Dear Cecil or whom to care to answer,

A normal automatic transmission in a car is P R N D 3 2 1 (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, 3, 2, 1), What the hell is 3, 2, 1 for? Does anybody ever use them?

  • Billy Brady, Stawell, Victoria, Australia

For getting out of mud or snow or going up a steep grade when you don’t want the transmission “rowing” between gears.

Also for towing, the shift points might not be suitable for the load.

Locking into the lower gears is also strongly recommended on downgrades, since you can use engine braking to slow the car. If you were to rely entirely on the brakes, they may overheat, leading to boiling brake fluid and brake failure.

Also for pretending you are driving a racecar, judging by my spouse. He also likes to manually shift going up hills, feeling that the car doesn’t shift at the proper rpms.