How Do the PWR and MANU Buttons Work in an Automatic Car?

If you want to master the skill of driving an automatic car, you have to know the functions of each gear in an auto gearbox along with many other things. The PWR and MANU buttons are a part of the ECT Mode. These are not required in your day to day driving, but knowing their usage will help to get the most out of your auto.

The PWR and MANU Buttons

The PWR is a type of power mode. However, it does not make the car accelerate faster or increase the power. It changes the gearshift points in an automatic transmission and makes it more sensitive to the throttle position. The button is commonly used at the time of towing a heavy load. It enables the vehicle to adjust the gear ratio according to the towed cargo.

Automatic Car
Use the PWR button when climbing on mountain valley roads. (photo source:

The MANU button allows the driver to control the gear shifting in a manual manner. For example, you press the switch when the gear is in the L position, making the gear to lock into that position, just like a manual transmission. You have to manually shift the lever to another gear (it will not move automatically). It is sometimes called Sport mode and used for racing and fuel-efficiency.

The Functions of PWR and MANU Modes

What happens when you push the PWR and MANU buttons? Let’s find out what they actually do to an automatic car:

How Does the ECT PWR Work?

It holds the transmission in a lower gear to a higher RPM, making the vehicle prone to downshifting to gain more power. Let’s say, you are driving on the highway at 100mph and then start climbing a steep road at the same speed. Pushing the button at that time will make the car rev, drop two gears, and give a sudden burst of torque. As a result, you will be able to drive up the hill faster than usual.

You should use this function only when driving on the highway and when climbing on mountain valley roads.

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How Does the ECT MANU Work?

Switching it on will hold the gear and won’t release it until you switch it off. For instance, you are driving at 60mph and at the 3rd gear. Pushing the MANU button will make the car hold onto that third gear without dropping the RPM, just like a manual car. The RMP will go down in a normal automatic car when you release the gas but that won’t happen when the MANU is ON.

Using this option will give the best result in two conditions – during high-speed overtakes and climbing a hill.

PWR And MANU Buttons
The MANU will work best during high-speed overtakes (photo source:

The Danger of Misusing the PWR and MANU Buttons

The PWR mode is practically harmless. The car will never cross the rev limit when this function is ON. So, there’s no chance of accidental damage.

The MANU mode, on the other hand, could be a reason for engine and transmission damage. For example, you are driving at 45mph at the 3rd gear and with the MANU mode ON. If you drop the speed less than 35mph and again speed up without changing the gear, you will cause stress in the camshaft and other related engine parts. Doing it frequently will destroy the engine.