CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Chris - nearly an ex-pat...
Settle a pub argument. Please what is the CORRECT usage of the Auto-box when a car is at a standstill - at traffic lights for example. I know a driving school would teach you to put a Manual car in neutral and put the handbrake on. But what about an Auto-boxed car? Should the Auto lever be shoved in Neutral or Park, or just left in Drive? I would guess you are still meant to put the hand brake on.

When I say CORRECT, I mean as recommended by BSM or the Government/Highway Code etc. As in, what procedure is expected for a pupil to pass the UK Autobox driving test.

I think most people (NOT those on driving tests!) just leave the box in Drive. I do.

CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Tom Shaw
Neutral or park with the handbrake on if stopped for more than a brief period - 5 / 6 seconds or so. Many auto drivers seem to leave it in drive with their foot on the brake, disasterous if you are rear ended when your foot will come off the pedal and irritating to those behind you at night who are dazzled by your brake lights.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Altea Ego
Stand by for pub argument on here as well. Park means what it says. Someone rear ends you while in park, and it will easily break the locking pin or lever and you will merrily sail down the road.

At the lights. Drive and handbrake. Neutral is for longer periods of no movement
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Wales Forester
Taking the vehicle out of drive only to re-engage a few seconds later causes unnecessary wear to the gearbox apparently.

The majority of buses in the UK are Auto and we were always advised to disengage drive when stopped for periods of a minute or more.
In reality most buses get put into drive at the start of the shift and don't see neutral until the end of shift!

CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - v8man
Keping the box in drive only serves to overheat the transmission fluid in the torque converter. This fluid burns and discolours when overheated repeatedly. The clutch plates will then rapidly follow. Believe me I've taken enough of these apart, even newish boxes that have been abused. Obviously if you drive a bus it's not your worry.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Aprilia
I agree that leaving in D for lengthy periods is not good practice. However, you are unlikely to burn the fluid in the torque convertor by doing this. Fluid get burned when it gets hotter than about 150 deg C - this only happens between the plates of slipping clutches or bands.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Dynamic Dave
I\'ve mentioned this before;

Vauxhall Autoboxes electronically drop themselves into neutral if the brake lights are continually illuminated for a period of more than 2 seconds. I\'m not sure when Vauxhall introduced this however. My previous L reg (yr 1993) Cavalier didn\'t have this feature, but my current X reg (yr 2000) Vectra has.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - THe Growler
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Ian (Cape Town)
Also ...
To make sure the bloke behind sees you, engage handbrake AND keep foot on brake until bloke behind stops.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - peterb
If you drive a Mercedes, it's vital that you keep your foot on the brake no matter how long the wait to ensure you dazzle everyone behind you.

If you drive an elderly manual hatchback you can achieve a similar effect by leaving your rear fog lights on 24/7.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Marcos{P}
Now all my brake lights are super LED extra bright I tend to leave my foot on the brake as long as possible.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - v8man
Brake lights wouldn't be a problem if it were not for those infernal high level things. They were only introduced to tackle the problem of drivers unable to detect when the vehicle in front was slowing down. I think they are a big contributary factor to 'virtual' traffic jams on motorways. You know the sort, when the traffic comes to a standstill for no apparent reason. This is because drivers can see the high level light 20 cars in front through the windows and panic brake every time causing a knock on effect until the traffic stops. I'll get off my soapbox now.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Baskerville
They wouldn't have to panic brake if they left enough space and drove at a more appropriate speed. Driving too close and too fast are the main causes of "compressions," not brake lights. So the rep in the jam has only himself to blame.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - wemyss
Never driven an automatic before apart from a Daf 55, which my wife had many years ago. Don?t know if that would be classed as one but it was an experience to drive anyway.
Until last month when I had a Mazda Demio as a hire car in Cyprus.
The lady handed over the keys as she took us out to the car and said ?it?s an automatic, have you driven them, No?? its so simple just press the accelerator and off you go?
She got in and started it and then left us to drive away.
Couldn?t have been simpler and I was enjoying it in the Limassol traffic and then out on to the coast road until I pulled in for petrol.
Following her strict instructions I coasted slowly into the petrol station looking for the red pump and dipped the clutch prior to braking.
We almost went through the windscreen as the brakes slammed on.
The two lads waiting to fill the tank with big smiles on their face signalled me to back up and come around the other side of the pumps.
My left foot refused to recognise my brain signals and the next 30 seconds would have made a good sketch for Basil Fawlty.
Got back to the hotel and found the key wouldn?t come out of the ignition until it was in park?.
Next morning the key wouldn?t turn in the ignition and it was five minutes before realising your foot had to be on the brake before it would start.
My wife ?you?ve been driving for over 40 years and having trouble with this little motor?
My protestations that the woman didn?t tell me and my left foot wouldn?t obey did little to get my street cred back but found eventually as I suppose every one knows you have to push your left foot under the seat out of the way.
Anyway it was a super little car and the mpg was amazing. Filled it up and 450k later including the mountains and the fuel gauge was still above half.
The hire woman however did say later that the needle dropped far quicker when it got to halfway.

CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - henry k
Alvin. At least you avoided the opposite situation. When returning to a manual with your left foot under the seat. The first time the brakes are required can be followed by a worrying violent judder until brain says how about dipping the clutch or Manually getting into the right gear. Not good for yourimage.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - cockle {P}
I was taught, many moons ago, that when stopping at lights, foot brake to a halt, then hand brake and slip into neutral, then remove foot from brake pedal when the person following has come to a halt.
The theory being that by keeping your foot on the brake the person following knows that you are either braking or stopped and should therefore not run into your rear!
Also by going into neutral you do not flash your reversing lights, as you would by going, D, N, R, P and therefore not confuse anyone approaching from the rear. I have actually been a passenger when the driver did a full emergency stop because he thought the guy in front was going to reverse, not a pleasant experience!

CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - GTLK
I had a Mercedes until recently and I always kept my foot on the brake pedal, but in my Volvo I don't need to - Why? Because, in the Merc with a gated box, its so hard to go from Drive to Neutral without going beyond and getting reverse. With the Volvo, its a simple move and you can't get reverse without releasing the catch. So all you serfs out there in non-Merc land, now you understand why people spend £1,500 on an autobox.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Marcos{P}
GTLK I'm not sure which merc you had but my past three have always been very easy to engage neutral with a simple flick forward. It stops at neutral because there is a slight dog leg to get to reverse.
My first drive in an auto was in my girlfreinds mums Golf. I just booted it off with the gear selector in 1 just to see how fast it would go and then when it came to knocking it into the No.2 position I went for the clutch (I know theres no need now)and we both ended up sprawled against the dash. Must have worked as she married me and were still together.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - RogerL
Keep your foot on the brake. On a Vauxhall automatic box, it automatically! selects neutral when stationary and then re-selects Drive when the brake pedal is released. I presume more expensive cars do this as well.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Marcos{P}
Not sure mine does Roger. I will check today if possible.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - 3500S
I drove an auto for six years and this question always came up in my mind so I asked my mechanic.

He recommended when approaching a queue, slowing down using the brake, wait for the car behind to stop. Pop into neutral, handbrake on and foot off the brake. It's safe and also good manners not annoying the driver behind. In traffic, I used to leave it in D and crawl using the brake until a prolonged stop.

It's hard to believe in a modern auto box that neutral is not gated, in mine, 1 and 2 were gated as well to prevent changing down at the wrong speed, only 3 and 4 were not and it was to allow for 'progress' rather than automated kickdown.

As for wear and tear, it's easy to forget that the ATF fluid is cooled off the radiator. Radiators in auto are larger to allow for auto cooling. Under normal usage it would be very difficult to boil the ATF.

As for maintenance, it's another bottle to check for levels. I used to get the ATF and gearbox oil changed every 20,000 but that was me over-servicing more than anything else. You can also get a Forte auto-additive which I used to have added. It was good stuff. made changes a little less jerky and it was said reducing wear and tear. It's worth bearing in mind though, that it's difficult to get all the oil out of an autobox due to the reservoir held by the torque converter.

Never had any trouble with an auto gearbox, I've recently gone back to a manual but not on any reliability issues. Autos are great for town driving but most of my miles are motorway.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - THe Growler
Don't worry about it. Do what seems right to you. It's somebody else's problem, it's their problem. You can't formulate your driving style on what might/might not please everybody else. Yet again it's PC gone too far.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Gen
First time I drove an automatic was in australia, I started it up and it shot off when put in drive. I can't understand why you have to stand on the brake on the flat to stop it going...why doesn't it wait to you hit the accelerator? Last thing I remember seeing on swerving left on a dirt road to avoid a main road was the worried car hire guy who'd just given me the keys telling me nicely that he didn't charge for small scratches. Must have thought i took that to heart!

Funnily enough I also had trouble starting something japanese in australia too. it was a manual but had to have clutch in to start it. never seen that since either. Not a bad idea I guess...
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - Marcos{P}
I borrowed a chap at works Neon the other day and could not get the thing to start. I had to ring him and ask him if it had a seperate immobiliser and he wet himself laughing. Apparently all Chrysler's have a system where you have to depress the clutch to start it. Big safety feature in America apparently.
CORRECT usage of Auto boxes - help - terryb
...and something my dear old Dad was taught in the Army (RASC) that he passed on to me.


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