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What Does the L Mean in A Car? Here’s All That You Need to Know!

What Does the L Mean in A Car? Here’s All That You Need to Know!

If you're wondering, “what does the L mean in a car?” it basically indicates a low gear mode. Low gear mode can be very handy when you tow a boat or another vehicle, when you drive through snow,  and when you drive down and up hills. 

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Your car's gearshift involves several letters. Some of these letters are very common to you, and you've probably used them in your daily commute. However, some of these letter might not be super familiar, like the letter “L.”

It's very good for you as a driver to familiarize yourself with all components around you, even those you don't use frequently. Therefore, this article breaks down the meaning of the letter L in your car. More specifically, the article provides it with a specific answer to “what does the L mean in a car?” 

What's the purpose of the gearshift in your car? 

Before we dive into the details about what does L means in a car? What's the back and familiarize us with the purpose of the gearshift in your vehicle. Once you understand the purpose of this component, you will realize how important it is to understand every single letter typed on the gearshift.

So, the gearshift is directly connected to the vehicle's transmission, responsible for transmitting the engine's power to the wheels. Without transmission, your vehicle's engine will be under pressure all the time, and it will not work as efficiently as it is supposed to.

The transmission is responsible for adjusting the gears to allow the wheels to move with the most power without consuming so much energy from the engine. More specifically, the transmission adjusts the gears based on the motion of the crankshaft, which is connected to the engine.

Suppose you're not already familiar with how the transmission work; it might be the right time now too. When the engine creates power, it rotates the crankshaft. Once the crankshaft is rotating, the transmission adjusts certain gearshifts to transfer the energy and rotation from the crankshaft to the wheels. 

If you're driving a modern car, you might not need to be involved in the whole process. However, if you're using a manual transmission, you might need to adjust the years accordingly for your vehicle to drive properly without wasting so much energy.

In modern cars that are usually associated with automatic transmission, the vehicle itself has a set of sensors to help itself detect which gear to engage at a certain torque or power. 

What are the different gears in the automatic transmission? 

If you drove any vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission, you probably saw one of These letters: “P, R, N, S, and L.” You definitely use many if not all the mentioned letters in our daily commute 

Each one of the mentioned letters indicates a certain operation model for your transmission to use. For instance, the letter P indicates that your vehicle should be set at a park position. The R letter indicates that you're trying to go reverse. The end letter means that your vehicle will be set on neutral, and finally that the letter indicates that you're ready to drive your car.

What does the L mean in a car?

Although all the mentioned letters are used by almost every driver every day, the letter L is one of the wrist letters that you might need to use in your daily commute. This is because it's not a basic necessity for driving any vehicle, and it doesn't exist in every car, which depends heavily on your vehicle’s manufacturer.

The letter L indicates what's known as the low gear module. If you've used a manual transmission before, the low gear module is analogous to setting the gears to either one or two in any manual transmission. 

If you set your car's transmission to L mode, you're forcing it to stay within the low gear mode. As a result, your vehicle will not consume as much fuel, and it will not generate a lot of power at the same time. 

If you've tried to press heavily on the car gas pedal, you won't get more power, and instead, your engine will send a little more raw force. Many experts indicated that raw force could be very handy in a lot of specific situations. 

How do you shift to low gear? Does it happen automatically? 

Luckily, switching to low gear happens automatically If you're driving a car with an automatic transmission. The good thing about switching to low gear is that your car by itself prevents your engine from spinning the wheels very fast for safety purposes.

Imagine when you stop slow your car or stop at the intersection without turning off the engine; what will happen when you hit the gas pedal if the gears are not set to the low gears? It would be a disaster because your car will run very fast and increase the potential for getting involved in crashes.

According to experts, your car switches to low gear mode every time you reduce the speed To a certain level. It also uses the low mode when you first start your car and then evolves gradually to engage the other higher gears after. 

When should you drive in low gear? 

Although your vehicle will automatically set to low gear mode whenever it needs it, there are situations where you need to set the gearbox too low mode manually. Never got let's take a closer look below at some of the common situations where the low gear is handy one driving: 

  • Since the low gear mode allows for additional pushing and pulling power, it can be a great option when towing a boat or another vehicle. However, automotive experts always recommend referring to your vehicle's owner’s manual for more details. In addition, some automakers provide details about never to engage the low gear mode in certain situations because it passes a certain safety threshold. 


  • Driving in snow can be challenging since your vehicle fails to grip the road and might spin out of control. Therefore, you might need to engage the low gear mode of this situation to allow your car to drive slowly while providing extra power to help you control the car and drive safely without slipping on icy or snowy roads.


  • If you like to drive in the mountains, we are very steep, setting your car on low gear mode can be a huge help. By doing so, you don't have to worry about breaking hard suddenly, especially if you're going downhill and you're not putting so much stress on the engine to produce the necessary power to climb uphill. 

Is driving in low gear bad? 

As we indicated before, driving in low gear is not necessarily bad if you use it in the right situation. However, if you continuously set your vehicle too low gear mode, it can be a problem.

Low gear mode is very helpful when towing another vehicle, driving through snow, or driving up and downhills. 

Can you shift from D to L while driving? 

Yes, you can shift from D to L while driving. However, if you're driving a car with an automatic transmission, the transmission will not help you shift into any gear if it's below a designated round per minute. Therefore, if you're trying to switch from D2L, you want to make sure that the engine's round per minute is suitable for low gear mode. Otherwise, you might have issues with the automatic transmission not engaging. 

Which gear is the best for driving uphill? 

When you're driving up or downhill, recommended to use the low gear mode. Low gear mode can be helpful in both situations, up and down.

When you drive up to help at a low gear mode, you don't put so much stress on the engine, and therefore, it will work efficiently to provide you with the necessary power to help your engine go up to help easily.

On the other hand, if you are driving downhill, the low gear mode can be very handy to help prevent any sudden breaking that could damage internal components in your vehicle. As a result, you don't have to worry about breaking overheating due to sudden usage. 

Do all cars have the letter L on their gearshift?

No, in fact, modern vehicles are now equipped with the letter L and sometimes the letter S in their Gearshifts. 

What does the S mean in a car?

Another letter that might not exist in every vehicle is the letter S. This letter indicates what's known as the sport mode.

As the name suggests, the sport mode is recommended when driving on steep and twisty roads with many curves to help you maintain your engine's round per minute, especially when you are driving around the corners.

When you set your car to add the S model, it forces the transmission to transmit more power and hold the lower gears, so your vehicle has enough power to go around the corner without losing speed. 

Another advantage what offsetting your car at the S mode is to help your vehicle accelerate fast after leaving the corner without worrying about gradually increasing the round per minute. 

Keep an eye on your vehicle’s gearshift 

If you feel that you will need to engage both the letter L and the letter S in your automatic transmission, you want to make sure that the translation works properly and there are no signs of a bad transmission.

  • Your vehicle will hesitate and will not respond properly
  • You might notice some transmission fluid leaks under the vehicle
  • Your vehicle will not switch to its proper gears fast enough 
  • You might hear some loud noises coming from the transmission, especially when you switch to neutral
  • In some scenarios, you might even notice some burning smell 

For example, if you're planning to drive uphill and use the letter L as a good means to help you drive safely, you want to make sure that your transmission is in good condition in the 1st place. There are plenty of signs indicating that your transmission is going down, including:

Once you notice any of these signs, it's important to take care of the transmission so you don't get surprised with things not engaging as you're driving on your favorite mountain trip. 


Understanding your vehicle's different components and definition is very helpful for you as a driver. In addition, you might discover certain features that you didn't know before, which can be handy in many circumstances.

If you're wondering, “what does the L mean in a car?” it indicates what's known as the low gear mode. In this low gear mode, your vehicle drives slowly without putting too much stress on the engine. It also produces extra pulling and pushing power and can be handy when towing another vehicle or driving through snowy roads.

If your car has issues not only in the L gear mode but also in the entire transmission, you might need to consider evaluating whether it's worth spending your time and effort trying to get it to work. Cash Cars Buyer is one of the fewest companies that accept vehicles, even those with major mechanical problems related to the engine and the transmission. 

Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and will provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States. 

Our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your vehicle removed safely and for the most money. 

All it takes you is to:

  • Describe your vehicle’s type and condition
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  • Accept the quote
  • Get your car removed and receive your cash payment on the spot!

To learn more about our process and our teen, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer.