Why Should You Shift your car gear from D to N before P?

This article provides an insightful exploration into the world of car gears, focusing on the different types of transmissions like manual, automatic, and CVT. It highlights how these systems are integral to a vehicle's performance and the overall driving experience. The piece caters to both experienced drivers and beginners, aiming to demystify the complexities of automotive transmissions and their impact on fuel economy, performance, and drive feel. It serves as a comprehensive guide, blending technical details with the evolution of automotive technology.

Jan 27, 2024 - 07:04
Jan 25, 2024 - 20:05
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Why Should You Shift your car gear from D to N before P?
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In the intricate world of automotive mechanics, the transmission stands as a paramount component, a true marvel of engineering that harmonizes the raw power of an engine with the graceful motion of a vehicle. This article aims to demystify the complexities of car gears, offering both seasoned drivers and enthusiastic novices an insightful journey into the heart of their vehicle's transmission system.

At its core, a car's gearbox is a storyteller, narrating the tale of how a car interacts with the road, the driver, and the environment. Whether it's the classic manual transmission that demands skillful engagement and a nuanced touch, or the modern automatic gearbox that seamlessly blends convenience and efficiency, understanding how these systems work is crucial for every driver.

As we delve deeper, we will explore the various types of transmissions, from the traditional manual to the sophisticated automatic, and the innovative continuously variable transmission (CVT). Each type brings its own flavor to the driving experience, influencing performance, fuel economy, and the overall feel of the drive.

This exploration is not just about the mechanics; it's a tribute to the evolution of automotive technology and how it has shaped our driving experiences. So, buckle up and prepare to shift your understanding of car gears, as we embark on this exciting and informative ride through the world of automotive transmissions.

Manual VS Automatic

The primary difference between manual and automatic transmissions lies in how the vehicle shifts gears. Here's a detailed comparison:

Manual Transmission:

  1. Gear Shifting: In manual cars, the driver manually shifts gears using a clutch pedal and a gear stick. The driver must determine when to shift gears based on the vehicle's speed and engine RPMs.

  2. Control: Offers more direct control over the vehicle, which some drivers prefer for performance driving or certain driving conditions like off-roading.

  3. Fuel Efficiency: Historically, manual transmissions were more fuel-efficient than automatics, though this gap has narrowed with modern automatic transmissions.

  4. Maintenance: Generally simpler and less expensive to repair. The clutch is the main part that may need more frequent replacement.

  5. Cost: Typically less expensive to purchase than automatic cars.

  6. Learning Curve: Requires more skill and practice to operate, especially mastering clutch control to avoid stalling the car.

  7. Driver Engagement: Often preferred by driving enthusiasts for the engagement and control it offers.

Automatic Transmission:

  1. Gear Shifting: Automatically shifts gears without input from the driver. It uses a torque converter or, in some newer vehicles, a dual-clutch system, to manage gear changes.

  2. Ease of Use: Easier to drive, especially in heavy traffic or urban settings, as there's no need to constantly operate a clutch.

  3. Fuel Efficiency: Modern automatic transmissions are very efficient, with some models even surpassing manuals in fuel economy.

  4. Maintenance: Can be more complex and expensive to repair than manual transmissions.

  5. Cost: Generally more expensive than manual vehicles, both in initial cost and potential repair costs.

  6. Adaptability: Automatic transmissions can adapt to different driving styles and conditions automatically.

  7. Comfort and Convenience: Provides a more relaxed driving experience, especially for those who drive frequently in congested areas.


  • Manuals require more driver involvement and skill, often preferred for performance and control.
  • Automatics offer ease and convenience, especially in stop-and-go traffic, and have become very efficient and adaptable with technological advancements.

The choice between manual and automatic depends on personal preference, driving style, and the typical driving conditions one expects to encounter.

Gear Mood:

In a typical automatic transmission car, you'll find several different modes or positions on the gear selector. These are the most common ones:

  1. P (Park): Locks the transmission, preventing the car from moving. This mode is used when the vehicle is stopped and when starting the engine.

  2. R (Reverse): Engages reverse gear, allowing the car to move backward.

  3. N (Neutral): Disengages the transmission, allowing the engine to operate without driving the wheels. The car can move freely if pushed or on a slope.

  4. D (Drive): Engages the automatic transmission to move the car forward, shifting through a range of gears as the vehicle speeds up.

Additionally, some vehicles have additional modes:

  1. S (Sport) or DS (Drive Sport): Alters the transmission's behavior for a sportier driving experience, often holding gears longer for more power but less fuel efficiency.

  2. L (Low), 1 (First Gear), 2 (Second Gear), etc.: These positions limit the transmission to lower gears, providing more power at lower speeds, useful for climbing steep hills, towing, or descending slowly.

  3. M (Manual) or +/-: Some cars have a manual mode allowing the driver to manually select gears, often using paddle shifters or the gear lever.

  4. Auto Hold or Hill Assist: Not a gear per se, but a feature that prevents the car from rolling back on hills when you release the brake.

  5. Overdrive (O/D) Button: Not a separate mode, but a button that turns the overdrive function on or off, affecting the highest gear for better fuel efficiency at high speeds.

Remember, the specific gear modes and their designations can vary depending on the car manufacturer and model. Always refer to your vehicle's manual for detailed information about your specific transmission settings.

Why Should you shift the car gear from Driving (D) to Neutral (N) before Parking (P)

Shifting to Neutral (N) before engaging the Parking (P) gear in an automatic transmission vehicle is not a mandatory step, but it can be beneficial in certain situations, particularly when parking on an incline. Here's why:

  1. Reduces Stress on the Transmission: When you park on an incline, there can be significant pressure on the transmission if the car is held in place solely by the transmission lock in the Park position. By using the Neutral position first, you can engage the parking brake (also known as the handbrake or emergency brake) while the car is in Neutral. This allows the weight of the car to rest on the brakes rather than the transmission. After the parking brake is engaged, shifting into Park will then lock the transmission.

  2. Safety in Case of Parking Brake Failure: If the parking brake were to fail or is not fully engaged, having the transmission in Park provides an additional layer of safety to prevent the car from rolling.

  3. Easier Disengagement from Park: In some cases, particularly on steep inclines, shifting out of Park can be difficult due to the weight of the vehicle pressing against the transmission lock. By using the Neutral position and parking brake method, this stress is alleviated, making it easier to shift out of Park when you're ready to drive again.

It's important to note that this method is particularly relevant when parking on steep hills or inclines. On flat surfaces, shifting directly from Drive (D) to Park (P) is typically sufficient, especially if you're using the parking brake, as you should. Always ensure that your parking brake is properly engaged regardless of whether you use Neutral as an intermediate step.

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