The Symbols On An Auto Gear Shifter – Explained!

March 5th, 2024 by

Switching from a manual to an automatic car can be a burden off your shoulders. You don’t have to shuffle between the multiple gears and clutch, putting a strain on your calves and arms. Sadly, the automatic transmission shifter, seemingly being a piece of cake, has its own complications in the form of those numbers and letters on the gear shifter.


If you are one of the people struggling with understanding what these numbers and letters in the automatic car mean, don’t fret. Eastern Shore Luxury Cars bring you this guide to understand all there is to know.


So, let’s begin.


  1. Parking

The letter P on your gear shifter means it’s in parking mode. If you plan to park your park, which means you will not be driving it out immediately, use this option. It would be great if you also used the Parking option when you are stopped on a slope.


  1. Reverse

You may have got this one already, and yes, R is for moving your car backward. Whether you’re parallel parking your car or backing up from a narrow alley, you must shift your gear to R to let it move in the reverse direction. If you’re an inexperienced driver, make sure that you check your surroundings before you put your car in reverse mode.


  1. Neutral

The letter N on your gearbox refers to the Neutral position. In this position, the engine disconnects from your system. You should use this option when you’re starting your car and when you’re waiting at a red light or in a line of traffic.


  1. Drive

Numbers often accompany D on an automatic transmission shifter. You can find this position on the far right of your shifter. This is the most common position that you’ll use when driving. Your car automatically shifts between gears as you speed up or slow down.


  1. Low Gear

L is for low gear. This position is often used when driving down a steep hill or when you need more power for towing. You’ll find this position on the far left of your shifter. Low gear is different from the drive because it starts in a lower gear and won’t shift up as you speed up over the slope.


  1. Sport

Some cars have these options, and some don’t. Sports mode is featured in some of the top variants of luxury cars such as BMW, Audi, etc. It is an enhanced version of the “Drive” mode. The car’s computer system is configured for a more responsive and engaging driving experience. The transmission will hold lower gears longer and downshift more readily.



Now that you have mastered what numbers and letters on the gear shifter mean, it’s time to hit the open road and put your new knowledge to the test! Just remember, before shifting into high gear, make sure you’re going the speed limit.


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