Veteran automotive pros or novice drivers will probably be familiar with the “P, R, N, D” letters on your automatic transmission. However, you might rarely, if at all, shift into “L” on the gear shift. So what does this letter stand for? And should you use it?
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L stands for low gear. When your car is in drive, or D, the automatic transmission will shift through the gears as your speed increases. When your car is in low, or L, the transmission won’t shift. Instead, it remains in a low gear, and less fuel is injected into the engine. This gives you less speed, but what you sacrifice in speed you make up for in engine torque. Basically, using low gear gives the engine more power.
Torque is useful when you’re towing something with your automatic. Towing requires more torque, but if you tow in drive it puts more strain on your engine as the transmission cycles through the gears. Keeping it in low gear lets you keep the torque, which makes towing easier, and reduces the stress on your engine. Can you imagine yourself having to tow something with your precious car? If you do get into a motor accident in Singapore and require towing (touch wood), keep cool, and call ETHOZ at 6654 7777 for immediate assistance!
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Another reason for using low gear is for driving up a hill in order to give your engine the power to get up the hill without over-stressing it. Honestly, there’s no hill tall enough in Singapore to pose a challenge to your car; unless you are going to attempt Bukit Timah nature reserve hill maybe?
Last but not least, low gear is also useful for driving in snow or on icy roads (which…is actually totally useless in Singapore), because it reduces your speed and gives you more control over the vehicle.
Even though you may never need to use the “L” on the gear shift, it is important to understand all the gears on your car, their purposes, and how to use them properly, in order to utilise your car at its maximum capacity.
Who knows? One day you might be driving up that steep-hill while overseas on a holiday, or if someday Singapore suddenly starts snowing.