Can You Drive Manual Mode in an Automatic Car?

How To Drive A Manual Car — Quick & Easy Guides
How To Drive A Manual Car — Quick & Easy Guides

Did you know you could use manual mode even while driving an automatic car? Surprising? Well, here’s what you should know.

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In an automatic car, there’s a “plus” and “minus” symbols on the car’s automatic shifter. If you’ve not seen it, they are usually the paddles behind the steering wheel. Their function is to put the car into “manual mode,” in which you can shift the car’s transmission at will, as you would with a genuine stick shift. However, there is a correct way to do it.

Why Would You Want to Use Manual Mode in Automatic Car?

Driving a car in manual mode gives the driver better control over the driving experience than in automatic mode. In normal automatic mode, the car’s transmission is controlled by a computer to maximize fuel efficiency and drivability. However, in manual mode, the driver takes over and controls the engine at will. Even though this affects the car’s fuel economy, it makes it more fun to drive.

Although automatic cars are now everywhere, there are still trucks and SUVs that have a manual mode. It is useful when towing or going down a steep hill. In those applications, performance driving isn’t the main reason for using manual mode. Instead, it prevents the vehicle from upshifting too soon, which would make it towing a little more difficult in some scenarios. 

Shifting to the Lower Gears Gives You More Control

The transmission will usually pick higher gears by default when driving a car through twisty, bumpy, or steep roads in automatic mode. This often hinders the car’s performance when coming out of a corner as the transmission will be in too high of a gear – fifth gear instead of third, for example.  However, by using manual mode and shifting the car into its lower gears, you’ll gain more control over it in the corners.

After making the turn, you’ll be able to power out of the corners at a higher range and shift to the next gear by just flicking the paddle. It’s the same control you feel when driving a manual transmission car spiritedly but without needing a clutch pedal to step on.

When and Where to Use Manual Mode

If you plan on using the manual mode in your car, the best place to use it is on a race track or open winding roads. That way, you can effectively use the car as if it were equipped with a manual shift and enjoy the experience even better. You can also use it when driving normally, but using the manual mode of an automatic car while driving regularly is not recommended by car experts.

The shifting will feel unnecessary, and the lack of a clutch pedal doesn’t make the experience as engaging as you would like.

In that case, stick to using the automatic mode for normal driving. But when the road opens up, flick the downshift paddle – it’s usually behind the steering wheel on the left – and feel the freedom of shifting the gears yourself.


Most automatic cars still come with a manual driving mode, even though some car owners don’t know about it. It can be used for regular driving. However, car experts recommend that the manual mode in an automatic car should only be used on race tracks.

Written by Amaefule Precious

A content writer with experience across various niches, and one of them includes interest in writing about cars.

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