What Every Driver Should Know About Auto Transmissions And Downhill Descent Assistance

When it comes to your car, few things are as concerning as when your transmission isn't shifting right or isn't shifting at all. However, there are some instances where seeming problems like this aren't really problems. What many drivers don't realize is that sometimes what seems like shifting problems could actually be completely normal and no cause for alarm. Here's what you need to know about your vehicle's transmission and this unusual behavior.

It Might Be An Integrated Feature

If you are going down a steep hill when you notice the shifting problems, it could be the result of an integrated feature in the transmission called downhill descent assistance. This feature engages when you're traveling down a slope and you have been engaging the brakes for a specific period of time.

When the downhill descent assist engages, it will shift the transmission down a gear and hold it there until you deactivate it. This is an attempt to use the engine's power to manage the speed of the vehicle, helping you to regulate your descent speed.

Your Vehicle Might Tell You

In some vehicles, they are programmed to flash a notice on the driver's information panel when the downhill descent assist engages. This lets you know that the feature is active and your transmission is helping you to control your descent speed. Some vehicles don't have the notification feature, though, but your owner's manual should tell you if the transmission is equipped with the downhill descent assist.

You Can Deactivate It

Any time the downhill descent assist engages in your transmission, you do have the ability to deactivate it. In most cases, it will deactivate automatically as soon as you hit the accelerator. However, if you're still going down a slope, it may engage again if you have to press the brakes for the programmed period of time. Once you reach the bottom of the slope and press the accelerator to drive normally, the feature will deactivate again.

You Can't Disable It

Some drivers dislike the downhill descent assist feature. They feel uncomfortable with the transmission taking over in that way, or they dislike the high RPMs that the engine operates at when the transmission downshifts. If you are one of them and you're looking for a way to disable your vehicle's downhill descent assist, you are likely to be disappointed. In most cases, you cannot disable this feature because it is a programmed part of the transmission's regulator.

If you have more questions about your auto transmission, contact an auto transmission service in your area.