Frequently asked questions

Is it easier to learn to drive an automatic car?

Yes, it is much more straightforward. Learning to drive without having to think about gear shifting is simpler and can result in a less tiring and much less stressful experience. As a consequence, it's easier to focus your attention on what is happening around the car, for example using mirrors and watching out for hazards on the road.

Can you stall an automatic car?

An automatic car will not stall unless it has a fault, so under normal circumstances the answer is no, it will not stall. This can increase your confidence when moving the car away from roundabouts and traffic lights, for example.

What pedals does an automatic car have?

Automatic cars have two pedals: an accelerator (gas) and a brake. When driving normally, you should use one foot to drive, usually the right, to prevent accidentally using the brake and accelerator at the same time.

If I pass my driving test in an automatic can I drive a manual?

In the UK if you pass your driving test in an automatic car then you are fully licenced to drive automatic vehicles only. For most people this is not a problem but if you need to drive manual vehicles you should learn to drive in a manual car. However, you should be aware that from 2030 all cars sold in the UK will be electric and all electric vehicles are automatic. Several leading car manufacturers now only offer automatic gearboxes, so in effect manual gearboxes are already starting to be phased out in preparation for the shift to cleaner electric vehicles.

What's the difference between automatic and manual?

In a manual car you will need to change gears yourself (in co-ordination with a clutch pedal) to match the engine speed (rpm) to the road speed of the car (mph) as you drive. In an automatic car all that you need to do is select drive (D) and the car will automatically change gears for you as you speed up and slown down.

What are PRND on the gear selector?

'P' stands for 'park' which should be selected when parked. Park disconnects the engine from the wheels and also locks them so the car doesn't roll away - you should still use the handbrake, though. 'R' is for 'reverse' and is used for reversing and will switch on the reversing lights at the rear of the car. 'N' is for 'neutral'. Like park this also disconnects the engine from the wheels. Unlike park, the wheels are not locked so the car could roll away (so you should still use the handbrake) or be pushed (without the handbrake) if needed. 'D' is for 'drive' and is selected for normal driving. The car's transmission will then change the gears for you automatically as you accelerate or brake to change your speed.