Are you driving an SUV and you are seeing constantly that L button on the gear lever and you are asking yourself what does L mean on a car? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic, and we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to what does L mean on a car.
Knowing this stuff is essential for you because you never know when you will be needed to press the L button to help you out in some situation that you might come by on the road. Even though there are a ton of buttons in modern cars and understanding everything can be a little bit overwhelming at some points, to be honest.
But not in the case when there are buttons on the gear lever. You need to know all of them and what they do since you might be needed to use them at some point. Imagine that you are climbing a steep hill and nothing works. In this case, you need to rely on something and this might be it. But more on that later in the article.
First, we are going to learn what is an automatic transmission and how does it work. Then we will cover the abbreviations on your gear lever and how you
What Is A Car Transmission?
So what does L mean on a car? We will get there. Let’s first see what is a car transmission? Let’s start from the basics so the ones that are not into mechanics can quickly catch up and better understand some of the confusing terms that we will be using later in the article.
A transmission is a component that every internal combustion engine has. The idea of having a transmission is old as the internal combustion engine is. There had to be something done when it came to handling the torque evenly to transfer the power in the right manner to the wheels.
Imagine that you transfer the rotational power from the engine directly to the driveshaft. The engine spins at 1,000 RPM minimum. So if this rotational energy is directly transferred it could destroy the driveshaft in a second.
That’s why there were some smart inventions that changed the world when it came to proper torque delivery and that was the car transmission.
In the beginning, these transmissions were pretty basic and came only in a manual option. But as time progressed, automatic transmissions were invented. Now there are even a few types of automatics like a CVT, DSG, and torque converter automatics. But the most widely used transmissions on a car are probably the manuals and the torque converter automatics.
Nowadays modern manuals have up to 6 forward speeds and torque converters go up to 10-speeds. Which is rather insane. So, what does L mean on a car? More on that in a bit after we discuss the automatic transmission and learn how does an automatic work in practice.
How Does An Automatic Work On A Car?
So, before we dive into what does L mean on a car, let’s first discuss how automatic transmissions work in the first place. How all this magic is possible that allows us to shift gears seamlessly (fun fact, go check out our guide on how to shift a motorcycle) and without any major hiccups like people who drive manuals experience?
Well, the answer is simple. All this is made possible because of hydraulic fluid. Also known as ATF. This bright red fluid is making all this magic possible and allows us to shift gears without any major issues.
This fluid is extremely durable and can withstand a lot of force that is used to push it through the tiny crevices inside of the transmission. That’s why this fluid has to be clean 100% of the time if you don’t want to face some problems like transmission shudder or jerking.
So, how this magic is done? Well, even though the automatic transmission is quite complex and has a ton of gears inside. The method of action is rather simple to explain.
The driver applies the throttle and the transmission fluid moves around the transmission wherever it is necessary to activate an upshift or a downshift. The throttle response tells the transmission what to do. You don’t have to do anything other than get it into gear.
That’s why driving an automatic is dead simple. You don’t have to press the clutch to engage and disengage as you have in a manual transmission car. The car does everything by itself. And basically, this is everything that you need to know when it comes to automatics. Still, before we delve into the topic of what does L mean on a car, it is useful to discuss the transmission fluid since it is quite an important piece of the puzzle.
Before we dive into covering what does L mean on a car, let’s first learn something about transmission fluid. As we mentioned above, transmission fluid is one of the most essential fluids on your vehicle. Every fluid is essential. But transmission fluid is one of the most important ones. Why is this the case?
This is the case because transmission fluid makes that perfect shifts. This fluid is also known as ATF is also used in power steering besides the transmission. It is light red in color and whenever you check the condition of it. You need to make sure that the fluid is in good condition if you don’t want to have problems with shifting.
If the fluid is dirty it might cause damage to the internals of the transmission. Transmissions are really sensible when it comes to the fluid they are running. So, getting a clean transmission fluid is one of your top priorities for you as a car owner.
Check the condition of this fluid regularly. And whenever you notice that the fluid is getting mushy and dirty it means that the time has come to replace it with a new one.
Also the intervals for flushing this fluid are about 60,000 miles. But if you want to increase the life of your transmission, you need to do these flushes more regularly. At 30,000 miles let’s say. By doing this, you will guarantee that the transmission will work well beyond its factory-recommended lifespan.
But what does L mean on a car? Well, we will cover that in a bit. Let’s first learn what other abbreviations mean. Since they are the core that you need to know first before you start learning what does L mean on a car.
Abbreviations P, R, N, D, What Do They Mean?
Before we dive into explaining what does L mean on a car, let’s first learn what the abbreviations P, R, N, D mean in the first place. This will be quite handy for those who are starting and learning how to drive a car. After learning what do these letters mean, you will be quite experienced and will be easy for you to learn what does L mean on a car. So, let’s get started.
P – This is the point where you start. P stands for park. Meaning that every car should be in park whenever you come to a stop. The park option as the name implies means that the car is parked and cannot move forward or backward. When you select park, the vehicle is stuck in this position and it will not move. You won’t be even able to tow the car if it’s stuck in park.
R – Then the next is the R letter. The R letter indicates a reverse gear. Meaning that whenever you place the car in the R position the reverse camera will turn on and the car will go into reverse. If you drive an older car then you will not have a camera.
N – The N position is indicating a neutral position. Meaning that you can only roll the car whenever it is in neutral. This is the position you will need if you want to have your car towed on a tow truck since you will not be able to do this while in park.
D – And the last is drive. Meaning that you put the car in this position whenever you want to move forward. But what does L mean on a car? Well, that’s what we are going to cover next.
What Does L Mean On A Car?
So, what does L mean on a car? This is the question that is bothering a lot of people. And honestly, it deserves a proper and elaborate answer.
The letter L means that this is a low gear. When you select L, the car will be stuck in first or in second gear. Also, the torque of the engine will be greatly increased and there will be power to the wheels that are needing it at the right moment. This will give the car that extra edge when it comes to tackling obstacles. So, you are probably understanding where we are going.
This L letter is mostly found on trucks and SUVs. Since these are usually the vehicles that would someone uses off-road to tackle some steep hills or some road that is quite a difficulty to conquer while the car is stuck in regular drive mode.
This mod is also useful while going uphill and also downhill. You just don’t want to go downhill in the regular drive mode. You need to go down extra slowly if you want to avoid possible damage to the vehicle as well as damage to your health since you can roll down and hit something if you are not having an L mode selected.
This mod is a lifesaver and will save your life who knows how many times if you are going off-road.
That’s why whenever you want to purchase a car and want to drive it off-road, having low gear is quite an essential thing.
So, we learned what does L mean on a car. Now let’s learn which of the cars have this low gear. This will be quite useful when shopping for a car and you want this specific car to have that low gear on it.
Which Cars Have The L?
We learned what does L mean on a car. Now let’s cover some other topics that are also very interesting. Especially if you are on the market for a car that needs to have the L letter.
You will be highly less likely to find a low gear option in vehicles that are not intended to be used off-road. Meaning that the only vehicles that have low gear would probably be more capable SUVs that are 4WD as well as pickup trucks.
Trucks as we all know need that low gear if you plan to haul a lot of equipment and you want to come down from a steep hill. With a classic drive mode, you will not be able to do this. That’s why this L mode also known as low gear is quite essential when it comes to trucks.
SUVs also have this gear as we mentioned. Especially the more capable SUVs that are offered out there. In some small crossovers, this option is only offered with the 4WD models. Some of them do not even have it.
What is interesting though is that manual transmission trucks and SUVs also have this low gear. You will often find two gear levers in manual Land Rovers and other capable off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler.
We learned does L mean on a car and now let’s move on to when this L should be used.
When L Should Be Used On A Car?
We learned what does the L mean on a car and also which cars are including this option. As we noted it is highly likely to find the L option in SUVs and trucks. On regular commuter cars, this option is not available. But still, some cars like the Subaru Outback or other Subaru products might include it since they are 4WD and off-road focused. Also, Audi’s who have their Quattro mode might have it as well.
Nevertheless, when the L should be used on a car? Well, that depends mostly on the situation. Let’s imagine that you are trying to go uphill. Not any uphill drive but a drive on a trail where there is no pavement and you depend much on your driving skill if you will be able to get on top of it.
This can be really stressful if you are a beginner. But luckily you probably have the L button. You press this button and then press on the gas. The car will slowly start to climb and in no time you will be right on top of the hill.
The same thing is when you are trying to go downhill. You cannot go downhill with regular drive mode. You will end up crashing and possibly hurt yourself. When you are at the top of the hill. You press the magic L button and the car changes the gear ratio and slowly and cautiously starts to crawl down. After you come down, you can put the car into drive and move on. It is that easy.
Normally this requires a lot of experience and is often advised to start small and then move on to bigger hills. Because experience doesn’t come just like that with a snap of your fingers.
Can I Drive My Car With Low Gear All The Time?
We learned what does L mean on a car, now let’s see if can you drive your car in low gear only. And the short answer to this question is no. You will not be able to drive your car in low gear only. Why is this the case?
This is the case because the low gear is only for off-road use and can be used for a few minutes. After this, you return the car in drive and you resume driving.
Technically you will be able to drive your car in low gear as much as you can but this type of driving will be extra slow. I mean really slow. The car will basically be limited to second gear and will not react whenever you want to press on the gas.
The truck or SUV will go extremely slow and will be very slow to react on the throttle. This is not what you want right? You probably want to quickly get up to speed and make sure that you get to the place you desire.
For example, if you leave your truck in low gear. The truck will simply crawl until you get there. That’s why using low gear is not something that you really want to do on day to day basis but only in some demanding situations when this gear is essential.
So, overall, that is everything you need to know when it comes to low gear and why it is so essential when it comes to off-road use. Now we can focus on some more interesting topics. Namely, the S button in a car. What does this button do? Let’s find out.
What Does An S Mean On A Car?
As we mentioned above, we learned what does L mean on a car. Now let’s focus on some other fun topics that might be interesting for you to learn. Namely, we are going to cover the S button.
The S button is something that a lot of car owners want to have on their cars and pay a whole fortune to get a car that has an S button. But what is the S button? Well, the S button is the sport button. Meaning that whenever you press this button the car enters something known as a sport mode and this mode is changing everything in your car.
Everything becomes sharper and more responsive. Namely, the throttle response is greatly improved in comparison when the sport mode is not selected. The car becomes more throttle happy and you will feel that power.
Other things that greatly improve in comparison to the normal mode are the steering and the dampers. The steering becomes sharper and more engaging. You feel everything when you turn the wheel and this makes you feel like a proper race driver.
Not to mention that this mode also stiffens the suspension of your car and you are feeling like you are on the racetrack, feeling every bump on the road. And that is something that you need to experience and feel to know the unforgettable feeling.
What Means This For The Engine On A Car?
Selecting the sport mode is not something that you want to do daily since there could be engine damage done to the car. Yep, that’s right. Engine damage might occur whenever you select this mode and you push your car to the absolute limit all day. The wear and tear will be much more than in regular normal mode.
So if you want to avoid this, you might be looking to use this mod only in situations that you feel this is necessary or on the weekends when you want to have fun in your car.
Car Gearshift Facts: What You Need to Know About the “L” Setting
- A car’s gearshift controls the transmission, which transmits engine power to the wheels to create motion.
- The gearshift has several letters: P for park, R for reverse, N for neutral, D for drive, and sometimes L for low gear.
- Low gear translates to a gear setting of 1 or 2 in most vehicles and provides additional engine torque at the expense of speed.
- Low gear is useful for towing, driving through ice and snow, and driving up and down hills.
- Cars with automatic transmissions shift to low gear automatically when starting the vehicle or stopping at a street intersection.
- Some cars allow drivers to manually shift into low gear, but it’s important to consult the owner’s manual for the maximum safe speed.
- Using low gear all the time is not recommended, but drivers should familiarize themselves with their car’s operation under low gear settings.
- The transmission adjusts the gearshift and transmits power at different levels of torque, regulating the power provided to the wheels.
- Engine power would be unruly without the transmission to regulate it, and automatic transmissions use sensors to detect the required gear for the situation and driving conditions.
- The gearshift’s most commonly used settings are park, reverse, neutral, and drive, which are frequently used for parking, backing up, pushing or pulling the car without the engine engaged, and everyday travel movement, respectively.
Conclusion To What Does L Mean On A Car?
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to what does L mean on a car and automatic transmissions. We first learned what is a transmission and how does it work. Then we learned the basics of the PRND layout and how you can read this layout. This would be extra handy for beginners that are starting into cars and learning the basics.
Then we learned what does L mean on a car. As we noted more capable SUVs and trucks have this option to go into low gear when it comes to tackling terrains that are not able to be conquered with the standard drive mode.
Then we also covered something more about the sport mode. We learned what this mode will give to you in terms of performance.