I have bought an auto transmission sedan but have no idea how to drive it correctly. All I know is put to D gear, and just drive.

I was wondering, is this the right way to use an automatic gearbox? Should I start with it in neutral or park?


  1. Get into the car
  2. Switch to N gear
  3. Ignite
  4. Switch to D gear
  5. Hand brake off
  6. Go


  1. Hand brake on
  2. Switch to N gear
  3. Shut down engine
  4. Switch to P gear

Is this right?


You shouldn't have to go into N to start the car, in normal driving you probably will never really need N. When stationary, and I mean stationary, use P, never select P when moving. After starting and when about to move off select D then release handbrake. Only select R when stationary and wanting to reverse. You can select D when moving forward or even when moving slowly in reverse.

Starting from P

Foot on brake

Turn ignition to start engine.

Select D

Release handbrake if applied.

Pull away (obviously following the rules of the road)

Stopping from D

Foot on brake to slow down and come to a complete stop.

Handbrake on

Select P

Turn ignition off

Remove foot from brake



Happy Driving.

| improve this answer | |
  • Something new learned. I always thought that P was for parking. And on the rare (2, 3?) times I drove an automatic shifting vehecle I put it in N after stopping since the car had a bug where it kept crawling forward if left in drive. – Hennes Oct 13 '15 at 12:07
  • 1
    @hennes That wasn't a bug, all autos (that I have ever come across) will creep forward on a level road if you leave it in D. If you are only stopping for a moment you can leave the car in D and keep your foot on the brake, or you could put it in N and keep your foot on the brake, but you might as well put it in P then relax your legs. – HandyHowie Oct 13 '15 at 12:19
  • 1
    @hennes P does stand for Park, but it doesn't mean you have to be getting out of the car to use it :) Selecting P makes the transmission put a pawl in to the output shaft of the transmission to lock it in place. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_pawl On a slope, it is advisable to use the handbrake also to stop all the load being on the pawl. – HandyHowie Oct 13 '15 at 12:25
  • Not saying it's correct but most drivers of automatic transmission cars (that don't know how to drive a manual) never use their parking/hand brake, unless on a very steep hill. Putting the car in (P)ark is enough to hold in in place. Also note that newer cars will require you to put your foot on the brake to change gears out of (P)ark or (N)eutral. – JPhi1618 Oct 13 '15 at 13:58
  • @JPhi1618 I agree, I have had many autos and it is very rare that I use the handbrake, but I am sure the manufacturers will say you should. I think the first car I had that stopped the selector moving without the brake being pressed was my 1997 Jaguar x300. – HandyHowie Oct 13 '15 at 14:11

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.