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General information and tips for renting a car with automatic transmission

When you are considering renting a vehicle from a rent-a-car, you should decide which type of transmission you prefer – manual or automatic. In other words, do you want to switch gears manually via a clutch and a gear stick, or do you prefer to drive one with automatic transmission which doesn’t have a clutch pedal.


Driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission is much easier, but still there are some specifics which you must know about driving automatic cars, as well as the pros and cons as compared to cars with manual transmission before calling your car rental and booking one for your trip.


The first obvious benefit of automatic cars is that they have one less pedal and don’t require constant handling of the gear stick, which gives you more time to stay focused on the road instead of thinking about and actually switching gears.


Although the layout of the gear stick in automatic cars can differ, in general there are six main positions which you should expect:


P – Park
R – Reverse
N – Neutral
D – Drive
2 – Second gear
1 – First gear


Another great benefit of the automatic gearbox is that it actually senses the road and switches gears in accordance to the driving speed, as well as the elevation of the road. You should be aware though that it doesn’t sense a downhill road and doesn’t automatically switch to a lower gear, quite the contrary – it will sense the higher speed and will switch to a higher gear. To get around this, you should manually switch to a lower gear (1 or 2) with the gear stick. This also should be done when driving in heavy traffic with a lot of stops and street lights.

automatic car gears rental

Another useful tip is to know how switch to a lower gear when you need quick acceleration for overriding another vehicle on the highway. This “kick-down” effect is achieved by pressing down the accelerator sharply to the bottom position, which causes the automatic transmission to change the gear and allows for quick acceleration. Switching back to a higher gear is achieved by letting go of the accelerator pedal.


Another important thing to remember is to always use the handbrake when the car is not moving in order to prevent it driving off if the gas pedal is pressed by accident.


Before you rent or buy an automatic car, you should know that however easy it is to drive, it does require some practice and getting used to. For example, getting used to the fact that slowing down at a turn may actually trigger switching to a higher gear, as well as getting comfortable with the progressive braking and sensing when to release the accelerator is something you should practice before going on the road with an automatic car.