How to Use an Automatic Transmission with Manual Shift Mode

Did you know that some cars with automatic transmissions have a manual mode? Find out what this, how to tell if your car has it, how to use an automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and more with these tips from our expert mechanics.

What Is Manual Shift Mode in an Automatic Transmission?

1A Auto Mechanic Len

The electronic range system (ERS) is only available in automatic transmissions and can only be found on some vehicles of different makes and models. These can give you more control over how your transmission shifts and works. Basically, manual mode will allow you to control when the automatic transmission shifts.

How Do I Know If My Car, Truck, or SUV’s Automatic Transmission Has Manual Shift Mode?

Gear selector for an automatic transmission with manual mode
Gear selector for an automatic transmission with manual mode

Look at the gear selector area or the steering wheel. If your automatic transmission has a manual mode, you’ll see a plus “+” or minus “-” sign that’s not for cruise control.

Steering wheel with buttons for an automatic transmission with manual mode
Steering wheel with buttons for an automatic transmission with manual mode

Why Does My Car or Truck’s Automatic Transmission Have a Manual Shift Mode?

1. Manual Shift Mode Can Help with Towing

Automatic transmission in 5th gear

The ERS system is useful for situations like towing a heavy load and needing to drive up a hill. Due to the speed your vehicle is moving at, the transmission might not downshift as you approach the hill. You then notice your speed is slowly decreasing. Pushing on the minus or negative button will shift your transmission to the next lowest gear (i.e. if you have an eight gear transmission and you’re in eighth gear, your transmission will shift to seventh gear). Pressing the button a second time will shift the transmission to the next lowest gear (i.e. from seventh gear to sixth gear). Then, while traveling down the other side of the hill, you can press the “plus” button to return back to the gear you were in. Once the gear number has cleared, a “D” will appear as you even back up into the drive system. That will then activate the MDS system if your vehicle has it.

More on the MDS system: What Is MDS and How to Disable It

2. Driver Wants Control Over the Drive System

A driver who wants control over the drive system might like to drive around in the city in third gear, for example. You might also prefer this mode if you prefer manual transmissions.

3. Lets the Driver Use the Engine As a Brake

This mode will also let the driver use the engine as a brake. Using the negative button to downshift will use the engine to slow down. The engine’s RPMs will lower as the driver starts to downshift. The RPM gauge will rise, but the vehicle isn’t accelerating. This will slow down the engine and take pressure off the brakes.

This is useful for situations like driving down a steep hill where you’d rather not wear out the brakes.

When Should I Not Use Manual Mode?

1. When You Want the Automatic Transmission to Shift on Its Own

Maybe you’d rather focus on the other parts of driving that need attention, like what’s going on in front, to the side, and behind you. Maybe you’d rather have the transmission control the shifting of gears.

2. To Prevent Transmission or Engine Damage

Pressing the button and shifting gears manually can cause problems like the RPMs running too high for too long or jumping up too quickly. This could cause engine or transmission damage.

3. To Keep Fuel-Saving Systems On

The use of the ERS system will also turn off some vehicles’ fuel-saving mode. For example, a Chrysler with an ERS system will have an MDS system that will turn off multiple cylinders and save fuel. Using this ERS system will turn off the MDS system.

4. Can Be Unsafe in Adverse Weather

Using the ERS system while driving in adverse weather conditions like snow or rain could lead to a loss of control of your vehicle.

Will Using the “+” or “-” Buttons for Manual Mode Cause Other Problems?

While using the ERS system, you don’t need to worry about turning the system on and off as you drive. With normal use, the “+” and “-” buttons will not cause a malfunction in the system’s operation.

Shop Quality Auto Parts

Fix your vehicle yourself with quality auto parts at 1aauto.com

Summary
How to Use an Automatic Transmission with Manual Shift Mode - 1A Auto
Article Name
How to Use an Automatic Transmission with Manual Shift Mode - 1A Auto
Description
Find out how to use an automatic transmission with manual shift mode by following these tips from the expert mechanics at 1A Auto
Author
Publisher Name
1A Auto
Publisher Logo

One thought to “How to Use an Automatic Transmission with Manual Shift Mode”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.