I drive a 2017 Honda City CVT. While waiting at a traffic signal, should I keep the car in D and keep my foot on the brake pedal? Or should I engage the handbrake, as I feel uncomfortable keeping my foot on the brake pedal for long? Or do I shift to N and apply the handbrake? Does frequent shifting between D and N damage the transmission?
C Seethapathy, Chennai
AAA While stopping at signals for more than 10sec, it is highly recommended to shift to neutral (N) and put your foot on the brake pedal or use the handbrake if you do not feel like pressing the brakes for long. If you’re in D with the brakes pressed, the engine is transmitting power to transaxle to move the car forward (creep), but with your foot on the brake the car is kept stationary. However, this puts a load on the drivetrain and increases brake pad wear. For short halts, the impact is negligible but for halts (more than 10sec), it’s better to shift to N and take the load of the driveline.
And no, frequent shifting between D and N does not spoil the transmission.
Nowadays, modern high-end auto transmission cars have a button-operated auto-hold function that disengages the clutch and keeps the car in neutral even when in D mode. This allows you to drive off in green signal.
Use P mode only when you’re parking the car and turning the engine off. It is similar to N mode but with the transmission locked by a mechanical ‘pin’. If the P mode is used without locking the wheels with handbrake, this ‘pin’ can wear and break. Trying to hold the car at stop with P mode is equivalent to stopping the car with a ‘pin’ that locks the transmission shaft. This can put a lot of stress on the pin, especially if the car is on an incline. So whenever you park, engage P mode only after shifting to N and applying the handbrake.
Also, P mode needs to be used only if you’re parking the vehicle and not at signal stops, as you stress the gearbox every time you shift from P to D or vice versa. All these practices enhance the life of automatic transmissions.