What Does The S Mean On A Gear Shift?

Have you bought a new automatic ride and asking what does the S mean on a gear shift? We’ll decipher it in a moment. However, there are several letters on the gear selector, and they can confuse you if you’re unfamiliar with them.

That’s why you need to know their meaning and maximize the benefits by properly utilizing them. For example, knowing the meaning of plus and minus on the automatic gear shift will help you understand and use the manual mode on your automatic ride.

While there are several letters on the gear shifts, this article will explain everything about the ‘S’ on a gear shift. If you’re asking what does L mean on a gear shift, check out the uses and functions of L on a gear shift.

what does the l mean on a gear shift

What Does the S Mean on a Gear Shift?

The regular automatic gear shift has PRND letters inscribed on the gear shifter console. For example, the P means park, the R means reverse, the N means neutral, and the D means to drive. However, some newer models have extra letters like L, 1, 2, D3, D4, and S.

However, kindly note that one vehicle will not have all these extra letters. For instance, the ‘L’ and ‘1’ means the same thing. So a car will not have both of them.

But what does the S mean on the auto gear shift, anyway? The S on a gear shift means sport setting or sport mode. Not every car owner knows about this letter, and it is not on all automatic transmission vehicles. That’s why some people may not know the meaning and uses. So, what exactly is it used for?

When you select the S mode, the tranny will be limited to the lowest two gears. This mode will enhance the vehicle’s sportiness and increase the revolution per minute (RPM) while keeping the car in the lowest two gears.

This setting will enhance the sportiness of the car and the overall engine and transmission performance. In simpler terms, you’ll have an increased response.

However, driving with the S mode will cause the tranny to run the engine at a higher revolution per minute (RPM). This will lead to high gas consumption. For this reason, it is not recommended to drive with the S mode round the clock. It may not affect the tranny but will lead to constant visits to the gas station.

Some drivers love driving with the sport mode because the gear shift feels punchier, and the rev limiter travels close to the danger zone and offers maximum torque from the engine. This is an excellent mode if you love thrashing your car on the highway. But be careful while cruising with this gear mode.

How do you use S gear?

At this point, you’ll no longer ask what does the S mean on a gear-shift Honda Civic or your respective car model. We’ve already explained that. So now, let’s see when and how to use the S gear.

With the S mode, the car engine will offer maximum torque and convert your normal baby ride into a sporty road beast. So, how do I use the S gear? Just like the way you use ‘1,’ ‘2,’ and ‘D3,’ you can also shift the gear to S mode from a standing point before hitting the road.

You can also shift from S to D while in motion. However, the car may not shift from S to D while driving if you hold down the gas pedal.

The S mode will be much more fun if you have paddle shifters. You can downshift or upshift without touching the gear lever while driving. This will make the vehicle feel sportier than ever. This mode is excellent if you’re driving on a highway or lonely road where there is no traffic.

Forgive me if I failed to mention that the car will be power-hungry and more dangerous to drive in the S mode. In addition, the car will consume more gas than driving with a regular ‘D.’

What’s the difference between sports mode and drive?

You have an extra feature if you have a car with drive and sport mode. And when you have power at your fingertips, how you use it is totally up to you. Depending on what you want on each journey, you can decide to use the drive or sport mode.

Let’s look at the differences between both modes so you’ll understand when to use them.

The D means Drive mode, like the drive setting on other cars. In contrast, the S stands for sport mode. It adds extra features to the normal drive mode. You only have to shift your gear selector to ‘D’ or ‘S,’ depending on the mode you want to use.

When you drive with the S mode, you’ll have extra features like

  • Lower gears: To gain maximum torque
  • Extra braking: Helpful in certain road conditions
  • Shifting at higher engine speeds: Runs faster than the normal drive mode.

As explained above, the S mode is excellent in certain road conditions. So, you decide the route you want to drive on and use the appropriate gear for that route. Of course, you can also shift between these gears as you cruise down the road.

This explains all you need to know when wondering what does the S mean on a gear-shift Toyota Camry or any car model. And if you’re wondering what does B mean on a gear shift, check out this article: what does B mean in a hybrid car?

plus and minus on automatic gear shift


Can you shift from S to D while driving?

Absolutely yes. You can shift from D to S as much as you want while driving. You can even shift into N while driving. It won’t cause any issues. However, you must ensure you don’t hold the gas pedal to the floor when shifting between S and D gears.

Does sport mode use more gas?

Extra features come at extra costs. For example, one of the notable demerits of the S mode is that the vehicle will consume more gas when driving in the S setting. So, you’ll visit the gas stations more regularly. This won’t affect the vehicle’s performance but will show on your wallet in the long run.

How do you put your car in Sports mode?

The S on the gear selector means the sport mode. You can shift into the S mode by depressing the brake and shifting the gear lever to the S mode from a standing point. This is quite the way you shift to D or R gear from a standing point.

You can also shift from D to S while driving. However, you must ensure you do not depress the gas pedal to the floor when shifting the gear.

What does sport mode do?

At a basic point, the sport mode sharpens how the car responds to your input. It does this by telling the car computer to enhance certain car settings. These settings include the throttle response and the transmission shift point.

Does sport mode add horsepower?

The sport mode will enhance the acceleration response and torque and may increase horsepower. Some experts argue that the sport mode adds horsepower, while others say it’ll make you think it increases the engine horsepower while it doesn’t.

What do S and L mean on gear shift?

As mentioned above, the S on gear shift means sport mode. Therefore, the vehicle will have a sportier feel when you drive with the S mode. On the other hand, the L means lower gear on a car. So, the vehicle will use only the first gear when driving with the L. On some vehicles, it’ll limit the vehicle from using only the first and second lower gears.

What do S and B mean on a gear shift?

If you’re driving on a twisty country road and want to keep the RPM high as you take corners, then you should use the S mode. When driving with the S mode, the tranny will keep the vehicle on lower gears for a long to gain more power as you take a corner or even cruise on the highway. The B gear offers lower gears too, but for a different purpose.

Is sport mode good for highway driving?

The sport mode keeps the vehicle on lower gears for long and shifts at higher RPM. This offers more toque and better feedback on what the wheels are up to. So, use the S mode if you need faster acceleration and more torque. You can use it on the highway and when driving on a twisty country road.

Does sport mode make your car louder?

The Sport mode will enhance the exhaust flow if you own a car with dual-mode or adjustable exhaust. This may enhance the horsepower and make the car louder. However, if you’re looking for how to make your car louder, consider deleting your exhaust muffler.

Does sport mode affect steering?

Vehicles come in different designs. On some vehicles, the sport mode will change the steering assistance from the power steering. This will make the car feel more substantive and heavier. It may even change the steering ratio, so any wheel turn has a greater effect.

Can you use sport mode in the snow?

No, it’s not ideal to use the sport mode on snow. Some newer models have ice or snow mode – it’s better to use any of these modes. But if your vehicle doesn’t have ice or snow mode, use the four-wheel or all-wheel drive in snow.

Final Words

The contemplation of what does the S mean on a gear shift has been explained in this article. This article also explained when and how to use the S mode. Understanding the inscriptions on your gear selector and around your car is essential. This will help you maximize the features you paid for.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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