What do D1, D2 and D3 mean in automatic cars?


Posted by: Hassana Obi

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Do you understand the functions of D, D1, D2, D3? Read on for the detailed explanation.

It is safe to say most motorists who own an automatic car doesn’t get the most out of their vehicles. To let you get the easiest example of it, we would like to talk about the gearing system. We are all used to D, N, R, and P which stand for Drive, Neutral, Reverse, and Park but do you understand the functions of D, D1, D2, D3?

Automatic gearshift

 We are all used to D, N, R, and P which stand for Drive, Neutral, Reverse, and Park

What do D1, D2, D3 gears mean in automatic cars?

The D1, D2, D3 gears can be used in place of the brakes. On the occasions like you are experiencing a downhill or approaching red lights and you don't want to apply the brake, these D options are for you.

So basically, this can come handy if you need to slow down the vehicle when your car suffers brake failure. In that case, if your car is in gear 3 and you switch to D1, your car will downshift to gear 1 and of course, it downshifts to gear 2 as you switch to D2.

  • What does D1 mean?

Take D1 gear: When your car is struggling in hard terrains like mud or sand and calls for the powerful gear 1 to get out of them.

  • What does D2 mean?

Take D2 gear: When your car is traveling upwards on an inclined terrain such as a hilly road. To get a quick engine power boost, downshift to D2 (just like on manual transmissions)

  • What does D3 mean?

Take D3 gear (some cars don’t have it, but you can take the OD button instead): when you are attempting to overtake and your car is at a low rev, D3 will rev it up, which boosts the engine power significantly and help you overtake efficiently.

\Automatic gearshift

The D1, 2, 3 can be used in place of the brakes

What’s more, the D2 and D3 are meant for the situation where your gear in D is electronically or mechanically malfunctioned and can’t switch automatically. If you suffer this situation, D2 and D3 help you drive your automatic vehicle like in a manual one.

Notably, there’re many automatic cars which don’t have D1 and D2 but offer + and -. These two symbols work like this, the + symbol equals upshift while the – symbol means downshift. Some cars such as Mercedes models also have it behind the steering like paddles. Mercedes ML, Mercedes C-class and Volkswagen Passat don't upshift nor downshift unless the engine revolution is in extreme cases of well under or above safety limit. Therefore you feel like driving a manual car without the third pedal.

Video: What Does the D1 on My Shift Lever Mean?

We hope this article well explained what D1, D2, and D3 do in an automatic transmission. Stay tuned for more driving skills on Naijauto.com. 

Hassana Obi

Hassana Obi

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Hassana Obi is an automobile writer and editor at Naijauto.com. She prides herself on hundreds of informative and entertaining articles on Nigerian traffic regulations, car prices and celebrity car collections. When Hassana is not writing, she is a teacher and philanthropist.

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