When to Use Low Gear

Close up of a car gear shift. Stick shift.

 

For many drivers who have an automatic transmission in their car, it can be difficult to know when to shift into low gear. Even though an automatic transmission shifts gears for you, there are times when manually shifting to low gear can help with your vehicle’s performance, particularly when towing or driving on steep inclines. Learn more about when to use low gear from the service experts at your local Butler Auto Group dealership.



What is Low Gear?


In a manual transmission low gear is the first gear you’ll use when starting the vehicle when it is parked or stopped at an intersection. As you drive you then shift to second or third accordingly. With an automatic transmission, the gears automatically shift in concordance with the engine RPMs. However, when you manually shift your automatic to low gear, the engine stays in low gear even as the RPMs increase. Low gear causes less fuel to be taken by the engine, which both slows the car down and increases engine torque. Even though most drivers who own a car with an automatic transmission tend to never use the low gear, there are situations where it can be helpful to do so.


When is it Beneficial to Use Low Gear?

  • Towing: Low gear delivers more engine power, which is ideal when towing a trailer, boat, or another vehicle. You should always check your owner’s manual to find out what the speed limit is for low gear, as exceeding the limit can cause damage to both the engine and the transmission. Towing with the automatic transmission set in low will keep the engine torque even and consistent, providing the power you need.
  • Mountain Driving: Another reason to use low gear is when driving in hilly or mountainous terrain. Manually shifting to low gives you more power to climb steep inclines without putting extra stress on the engine. It can also be beneficial when descending a hill, as it will help to slow the vehicle and reduce the amount of braking you’ll have to do. Riding the brakes when going down a steep incline can cause them to overheat, which can lead to brake failure.
  • Ice and Snow: Shifting to low gear is also helpful when you need to drive slowly on icy, snowy, or slippery roads. The extra torque and lower speed will help you to keep the vehicle under control.

Visit Your Local Butler Auto Group Dealership to Learn More

Whether driving around town, or heading out to one of the great fishing sites around Macan, GA, using low gear can help performance and extend the life of your brakes. The certified auto techs at the Butler Auto Group service center near you can advise you when and how to properly use the low gear setting on your automatic transmission. We can also handle all your recommended car maintenance, including oil changes. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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