What is Drive S on a Car’s Gear Stick?

What is Drive S on a Car's Gear Stick?

Gears are very important equipment for a vehicle. Nowadays, vehicles have two types of gear: manual and automatic. Usually, modern cars have automatic gear and this type of gear have various letters on it. One such letter is “S”. In an automatic gear, the letter “S” stands for “Sport.” This feature of automatic gear allows the driver to shift quickly and also holds the gear longer before upshifting. So, the S mode offers better acceleration and performance.

The Meaning of “S” on an Automatic Gear

If you have a new model vehicle with automatic gear, then the letter “S” usually stands for “sport” mode. This mode allows the driver to gain speed more quickly and maintain the speed conveniently. Moreover, it allows the driver to keep the low transmission settings longer than usual. When you keep the gear on “S,” the car will gain additional power to make sharp turns. Moreover, it will allow you to gain higher RPMs before automatically shifting to a gear. Your engine will create loud rumbling sounds and you will have a sportier driving feel. If you are driving on open highways, then it will be the best type to drive your car on “S” mode. You should keep in mind that the “S” mode is not for everyday driving, so you should use this mode on clear and dry roads.

How does An Automatic Gear Work?

Usually, the automatic gears use hydraulic power to shift gears. An automatic gear combines a torque or fluid coupling converter and offers the desired range of gears for the vehicle. Here, the torque converter uses the power from the engine to connect with the transmission and uses pressurized fluid to transfer power to the gears. So, this method eliminates the manual gear changing process and allows the transmission to change the gears automatically. According to Artofmanliness.com

“The transmission ensures that your engine spins at an optimal rate (neither too slow nor too fast) while simultaneously providing your wheels with the right amount of power they need to move and stop the car, no matter the situation you find yourself in. It sits between the engine and the rest of the drivetrain and sort of acts like a power switchboard for the car.”

The above type of transmission has hydraulic control and it is pressurized by an oil pump. So, it will allow the driver to change the gear depending on the vehicle’s speed. Other factors like tire revolutions per minute also depend on the transmission type. Moreover, the oil pump also leads directly to the housing of the torque converter attached to the flex plate of the engine. So, here the transmission won’t have the oil pressure when the engine is stopped and preventing you from push-start the vehicle. According to howacarworks.com

How does An Automatic Gear Work?

“When you shift your vehicle into drive, you engage all available forward gear ratios. This means that the transmission can move between its full ranges of gears as needed. Six-speed automatic transmissions are the most common number of gears, but older cars and entry-level compact cars may still have either four or five automatic gears.”

How to Use the “S” Gear in an Automatic Car

Now that you have a clear idea about S gear, now let’s look at how you can use the S gear in your automatic car. Below are the details steps of using the S gear in an automatic car –

  • The first thing about using the S gear is, that you should use this gear on free highways or the open road
  • You should not use the S gear when the car is parked or the car will gain quick accelerations
  • You should start your car by shifting to the D mode. This way you will be able to drive the car fuel efficiently
  • Then, you should find a road where high-speed runs are less dangerous and try to shift to the S mode
  • In order to use the “S” gear, you have to press the button on your gear selector first, then you have to move the gear and bring it down to S mode
  • If you are planning to move your gear from “S” to “N” mode or “D” mode then you don’t have to press the button on the gear selector; you just have to push the gear selector to “N” mode or “D” mode    
  • This way you will be able to avoid shifting to unwanted gears like R and P and damaging your transmission

What are the Letters on the Gear Shift and their Meaning?         

If you check the gear shifter of an automatic car then you will see quite a few letters printed on it. These letters have different meanings and functions. The available letters on a gear shifter are –

  • Parking Mode (P)
  • Reverse Mode (R)
  • Neutral Mode (N)
  • Drive Mode (D)
  • Brake Mode (B) or Low Gear Mode (L)   
What are the Letters on the Gear Shift and their Meaning?         

1. Parking Mode (P)

You have to use this mode when you have turned off the engine and not driving the car for a while. However, you should not use this mode when you are on the road sitting in traffic. When you use the P mode, it locks your car’s transmission. Depending on the car design, it might place a rod in between the car’s transmission gear’s teeth. Therefore, you should always use the P mode with the parking brake on.    

2. Reverse Mode (R)

You have to use this mode if you want to drive your car backward. If your car is on N or D mode, then you won’t be able to change the gear to the R mode. You have to press the button on the gear selector and then you will be able to change the gear to the R mode.  

Reverse Mode (R

3. Neutral Mode (N)

The N mode is quite similar to the P mode with some differences. The N mode doesn’t lock the transmission gears while the P mode does. Usually, the N mode refers to the Neutral mode and in this mode, the gears are not connected to the engine.  

4. Drive Mode (D)

This mode connects the gears with the engines and the wheels will start to spin. In an automatic car, the ECU will determine which gear the car should be running in depending on the car’s throttle and speed. This type of driving mode is perfect for everyday driving.    

5. Brake Mode (B) or Low Gear Mode (L)

Depending on the car type or model you might see B or L on your automatic gear. Both the D and L mode has the same function. You can use the B or L mode to maintain low gear. Usually, the low gear generates more torque but it decreases the car speed. For uphill driving, you will find the B or L mode very handy.

Brake Mode (B) or Low Gear Mode (L)

FAQs about What is Drive S on a Car’s Gear Stick

When is the best time to use the S gear?

Well, the S gear means Sports mode, and the name actually gives an idea about the best time to use this mode. You should use the S gear when you are driving your car on open highways or on open roads. It’s not the ideal gear to drive your car on busy roads where the traffic is very high.

Can I switch from D to S while driving?

Yes, you can switch from D to S gear while driving the car. But, in order to switch to the “S” gear, you have to press the button on your gear selector first, and then you have to move the gear and bring it down to S mode. But, if you want to move the gear from S to D then you don’t have to press the button on your gear selector. You just have to move the gear selector from the S to D.

Is S gear the best option to drive the car in snowy conditions?

No, S gear or Sports mode is not the best gear option to drive a car in the snowy condition or when there is ice and snow on the road. If you use the Sports mode in snow or slippery place then the tires and wheels will spin in place. So, it will be very difficult for you to control the car while driving in the snow or ice.

What Does R Mean In A Car?

In a car, R means reverse gear. If you need to drive the car backward then you have to shift your gear to R. The R gear is mostly used in situations like parking the car or driving the car in the driveway.




Last Updated on December 25, 2023 by Magalie D.

Scroll to Top