Vehicles with a standard (manual) transmission now account for just 1 in 10 new cars made. That’s a major change from when nearly half of the cars on the road were equipped with standard transmissions. Driving a car with a standard or manual transmission provides a sportier, driver-focused feel, but with modern transmissions becoming more efficient and responsive, standard vehicles are in less demand.
The driver’s need for information can still be met in many automatic cars through Autostick. Often thought of as a standard clutchless transmission, an automatic transmission with Autostick allows the driver to select when the transmission shifts up and down at times when they want additional control. All other times, the car can be driven like a regular automatic.
Here’s how to use Autostick to upshift and downshift most vehicles.
Part 1 of 3: Activate Autostick
Before you can change your transmission using Autostick, you must be able to enter Autostick mode.
Step 1: locate Autostick in your gear change. You can tell where it is due to the plus / minus sign (+/-).
Not all vehicles have Autostick. If yours doesn’t have the +/- on the shifter, your transmission may not have that mode.
- Note: Some vehicles with a column shift lever also have Autostick, which is indicated by a +/- on the column shift lever. It is used in the same way as a console shifter, except that a button is pressed instead of a lever movement.
If you cannot locate the Autostick feature, consult your owner’s manual or call the manufacturer’s helpline for information on where to find it.
Step 2: switch your transmission to Autostick mode. First press the brake, then shift to driving, then slide the gear lever to Autostick.
Autostick only works in Drive, not in Reverse, and there is normally no neutral position in Autostick.
- Tip: Treat every move while in Autostick with the same care as when your car is moving.
Autostick is commonly found to the left or right of the unit’s location on the gearshift and only needs to be gently pulled in that direction once the gearshift is in the unit.
Some brands are also directly under the transmission gear and only need to be pulled to pass the transmission.
Step 3: exit Autostick. When you’re done using Autostick, you can simply put the shifter back in the drive location and the transmission will go back to fully automatic.
Part 2 of 3: Upshift with Autostick
Once you’re in Autostick, shifting gears is an easy move. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: If you start from a stop, your Autostick will start in first gear. You will be able to know it in your instrument group.
Where you normally see a “D” for driving, you will see “1” indicating first gear of Autostick mode.
Step 2: accelerate away from a stop. You will notice the motor revving more than normal as you rev while waiting for your input to change.
Step 3: When you get around 2500 to 3000 RPM, tap the gear stick towards the plus (+) icon.
This tells the transmission to shift to the next highest gear.
If you want to drive more aggressively, you can rev the engine more before shifting into the next gear.
- Warning: Do not accelerate the engine to the red line or serious engine damage may result.
Step 4: shift up through the rest of the gears in the same way. You can downshift to lower RPM once you’re in higher gears.
Some Autostick vehicles have four speeds, while others have six or more.
If you don’t know how many gears you have, you can find out by tapping the gear stick towards + several times while driving at highway speed. When the number doesn’t increase, that’s how many gears you have.
Many manufacturers use some variation of Autostick in their vehicles. On some makes, the transmission will automatically shift up if you wait too long to touch the gear stick when you’re on the red line. It is a protection that some vehicles have, but not all. Do not rely on this feature to avoid damage to your vehicle’s engine.
Part 3 of 3: Downshift with Autostick
When using Autostick, you will eventually need to slow down. Here’s how …