Automatic Car Hire In France

Driving a hired automatic car in France for the first time

Automatic car hire in FranceFor a person who is used to manual cars, learning to drive an automatic car can be quite challenging but certainly not impossible. People who have driven both manual and automatic cars concur that gear selection in the latter models is less precise in terms of control. This notwithstanding, learning to drive automatic cars is of the essence since these are the automobiles of the future. Then again, you sometimes don’t know when you’ll need a car rental or car hire service.

Automatic cars do not have clutch pedals like manual vehicles and the gear change is therefore made automatically. As long as the car’s transmission has been put in Drive (D) gear selection will be made as per the engine load and road speed. Most automatics will only start if two precautions have been observed; that the gear lever is at Park (P) position and that the brakes pedal is firmly depressed.

Once the car has started and you need to drive off you will be required to shift the gear lever from the Park (P) to the Drive (D) position. This shift of position will only be possible if the gear lever’s security button has been sufficiently pushed in. Immediately the gear lever is in Drive (D) the car will start inching forward. As a precaution therefore, automatic cars need to have their brakes pedals engaged before the gear is switched to Drive.

Once on the road and you need to accelerate, you need to press down the accelerator pedal to the floor. Doing so causes the transmission to be automatically dropped and it is at this lower gear that acceleration is enabled. The automatic car will not require you to shift the transmission from Drive to Park when you need to make a brief stop, say when you are in a traffic lights queue. All you need to do to ensure that the vehicle is safely immobilized is to use the parking brake.

Most automatic car models allow drivers to make a manual selection for low gears. If you are driving such a model you will observe that the gears are indicated on the gearshift with the same numerical representation as on manual cars. Gear 1 may however be represented as L which means Low. You will find these low gears useful when driving down steep gradients and in slow traffic. Once you get to your destination and need to stop the car you should begin by shifting the gear to Park and engaging the parking brake next before you switch off the engine.

When driving your automatic in France you must always be keen to have your driving license, car registration and insurance documents with you. EU citizens can use their country’s driving licenses on French roads. Failure to carrying these exposes you to the threat of a spot fine if a gendarme stops you. Despite driving a vehicle obtained from a car rental or car hire service, French laws obligate you to carry a warning triangle, first aid kit, spare bulbs and a fluorescent jacket. The latter is carried in the car and not the boot such that it can be worn prior to your exiting the vehicle in case of accidents or breakdowns. Driving without a fluorescent jacket will also earn you a hefty fine.

In France cars are strictly driven on the right. You are required to stop where there is a stop sign and a solid white line. Overtaking in motorways and dual carriageways is always done on the left hand side. French roundabouts are anticlockwise and this means you should give way to the left. Always wear seatbelts whether you are in the front or rear.

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