What are the Functions of Low Gear in Automatic Transmission?

The gears in an automatic car shift automatically. So, many people may wonder if there’s any need to use the low gear! Well, doing it can increase the automobile’s performance by maximizing the fuel efficiency and increasing the engine’s power. All you have to do is to know the right time of driving in low gear.

What Is Low Gear?

Also known as first gear, this mode in automatic transmission slows down the engine and provides more torque. In an auto car, the gears automatically shift from ‘park’ or ‘idle’ to first and then gradually up to the fifth depending on the speed of the vehicle.

Shifting to low gear in an automatic means the car will stay in the first gear despite the engine being shifted to a higher gear. It results in less speed, ore torque, and more power for the engine.

What is Low Gear?
What is Low Gear? (photo source: Cars.com)

What Does L Stand For in A Car

L – is the symbol of Low

L here is the abbreviation for Low. When the lever is in this mode on the car, the engine will be at the lowest possible transmission level, for more specific, is in the gear. Some older automatics lock it in the first gear but for other moderns, it can be move up to the next gear at a specific range of revolutions per minute (RPM) to prevent damage of your car’s engine and transmission.


Low Gear In An Automatic
Driving in the first gear will help in certain situations. (photo source: Nissan Owner Channel @ Youtube)

When to Use Low Gears in Automatic Transmission?

Drivers use the low gear in auto vehicles for some specific reasons. For answering the question: When to use L gear, let’s find out:

For Towing

It’s one of the most common reasons. Putting the vehicle on low gear generates more engine power, making it easier to tow a heavy load. Automatic cars switch gears with the changes of speeds and RPMs, which can affect the engine if you continue to haul something.

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Just check the vehicle’s speed limitations for first gear from the owner’s manual and don’t cross that limit while towing. It will keep the torque consistent and won’t put stress on the motor.

Riding down a Steep Road

Using the brakes for slowing down while riding down a sharp road or hill can overheat them and possibly lead to brake failure. You can use the first gear to take the pressure off the brakes. While you will still need them, they won’t wear out easily because the engine will do some ‘braking’ on the low gear.

Driving In Low Gear
Putting the car in the first gear will help when you are riding down a road. (photo source: Autocar.co.uk)

Climbing a Steep Hill

When you are ascending a slope, the gravity works on the vehicle and makes the engine work much harder. As the situation is almost like towing something heavy, using the first gear will make the task a bit easier for the engine.

How to Use Low Gear in an Automatic Car?

Automatic vehicles change the gears automatically when speed increases/decreases and when the torque reaches a certain RPMs. However, if you want to force your auto transmission car to downshift into a lower gear, you have to ease off the gas pedal at first. Then, let the transmission move toward a lower gear and keep the speed at that level as long as you want to car to drive in that gear.

Many auto car drivers never use the low gear in their lifetime. It happens because they don’t either understand its function or face a suitable situation. Well, you know now that it can be helpful in certain situations. Nevertheless, you have to be careful because using it incorrectly can damage the transmission.

Watch the video to see how to use Gears in an Automatic car.

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