Hyundai Santa Cruz Owners & Service Manuals

Hyundai Santa Cruz: Automatic Transmission / Automatic Transmission Operation

The automatic transmission has eight forward speeds and one reverse speed. The individual speeds are selected automatically in the D (Drive) position.

The indicator in the instrument cluster displays the shift lever position when the ignition switch is in the ON position.


To reduce the risk of serious injury or death:

  • ALWAYS check the surrounding areas near your vehicle for people, especially children, before shifting a vehicle into D (Drive) or R (Reverse).
  • Before leaving the driver’s seat, always make sure the shift lever is in the P (Park) position, then set the parking brake, and place the ignition switch in the LOCK/OFF position. Unexpected and sudden vehicle movement can occur if these precautions are not followed.
  • When using the paddle shifter (manual shift mode), do not use engine braking (shifting from a high gear to lower gear) rapidly on slippery roads. The vehicle may slip causing an accident.

P (Park)

Always come to a complete stop before shifting into P (Park).

To shift the vehicle from P (Park), make sure to depress firmly on the brake pedal and also make sure your foot is completely off the accelerator pedal.

If you have done all of the above and still cannot shift the lever out of P (Park), see "Shift-Lock Release" in this chapter.

The shift lever must be in P (Park) before turning the engine off.


  • Shifting into P (Park) while the vehicle is in motion may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  • After the vehicle has stopped, always make sure the shift lever is in P (Park), apply the parking brake, and turn the engine off.
  • When parking on an incline, shift the gear to P (Park) and apply the parking brake to prevent the vehicle from rolling downhill.
  • Do not use the P (Park) position in place of the parking brake.

R (Reverse)

Use this position to drive the vehicle backward.


Always come to a complete stop before shifting into or out of R (Reverse); you may damage the transmission if you shift into R (Reverse) while the vehicle is in motion.

Also note that when the vehicle is in D (Drive) or R (Reverse) and you open the driver's door, a warning will chime and a warning message "Shift to Park" will appear in the LCD cluster display.

N (Neutral)

The wheels and transmission are not engaged.

Use N (Neutral) if you need to restart a stalled engine, or if it is necessary to stop with the engine ON. Shift into P (Park) if you need to leave your vehicle for any reason.

Always depress the brake pedal when you are shifting from N (Neutral) to another gear.


Make sure your foot is firmly depressing on the brake pedal when shifting into gear. Also, keep your foot off of the accelerator pedal when shifting into gear. Shifting when the engine rpm is high can cause the vehicle to move suddenly. You could lose control of the vehicle and serious injury could occur.

D (Drive)

This is the normal driving position. The transmission will automatically shift through an 8-gear sequence, providing the best combination of fuel economy and power.

For extra power when passing another vehicle or driving uphill, continue to depress the accelerator pedal. You may notice the transmission downshift to the next lower gear or multiple gears as needed for the vehicle to accelerate sufficiently.

The DRIVE MODE switch, located on the shift lever console, allows the driver to switch between NORMAL mode, SPORT mode, or SMART mode.

Manual shift mode

[A] : + (Up), [B] : - (Down)

Manual shift mode may be selected by simply toggling the shift lever to the left (toward the driver) into the manual shift gate. If your vehicle is currently in D (Drive), then the gear shift display in the instrument cluster will change from 'D' to the number of the current gear.

In manual shift mode, moving the shift lever backwards and forwards will allow you to select the desired range of gears for the current driving conditions.

+ (Up) : Push the lever forward once to shift up one gear.

- (Down) : Pull the lever backwards once to shift down one gear.


  • Only the eight forward gears can be selected. To reverse or park the vehicle, move the shift lever to the R (Reverse) or P (Park) position as required.
  • Downshifts are made automatically when the vehicle slows down. When the vehicle stops, 1st gear is automatically selected.
  • When the engine RPM approaches the red zone the transmission will upshift automatically.
  • If the driver presses the lever to + (Up) or - (Down) position, the transmission may not make the requested gear change if the next gear is outside of the allowable engine RPM range. The driver must execute upshifts in accordance with road conditions, taking care to keep the engine RPMs below the red zone.
  • When driving on a slippery road, push the shift lever forward into the + (Up) position. This causes the transmission to shift into the 2nd gear which is better for smooth driving on a slippery road. Push the shift lever to the - (Down) side to shift back to the 1st gear.

Shift-lock release

If the shift lever cannot be moved from the P (Park) position into R (Reverse) position with the brake pedal depressed, continue depressing the brake, and then do the following:

1. Place the ignition switch in the LOCK/ OFF position.

2. Apply the parking brake.

3. Carefully remove the shift lever boots.

4. Move the Shift lever while holding the release button (1) with a tool (for example, flathead screw-driver).

If you need to use the shift-lock release, have your vehicle inspected by an authorized HYUNDAI dealer immediately.

Shift-lock system

For your safety, the automatic transmission has a shift-lock system which prevents shifting the transmission from P (Park) into R (Reverse) unless the brake pedal is depressed.

To shift the transmission from P (Park) into R (Reverse):

1. Depress and hold the brake pedal.

2. Start the engine or place the ignition switch in the ON position.

3. Move the shift lever

Ignition key interlock system

The ignition key cannot be removed unless the shift lever is in the P (Park) position.


Always come to a complete stop and continue to depress the brake pedal. Move the shift lever into the P (Park) position, apply the parking brake, and place the ignition switch in the LOCK/ OFF position. Take the Key with you when exiting the vehicle.


When you stay in the vehicle with the engine running, be careful not to depress the accelerator pedal for a long period of time. The engine or exhaust system may overheat and start a fire. The exhaust gas and the exhaust system are very hot. Keep away from the exhaust system components.

Do not stop or park over flammable materials, such as dry grass, paper or leaves. They may ignite and cause a fire.

    Automatic Transmission
    [A] : Shift lever, [B] : Shift release button, [C] : Manual shift mode ...

    Using the Paddle Shifters
    The paddle shifter is available when the shift lever is in the D (Drive) position or the manual shift mode. With the shift lever in the D position The paddle shifter will operate when the vehicle ...

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