What is the L gear in Honda Civic

What is the L Gear in a Honda Civic?

Your Honda Civic’s gearshift has different transmission positions. They are represented mainly by the letters P, R, N, and D, but some Honda Civics come equipped with an extra L gear. It is important to understand what the L gear means and how it influences your car’s performance if your civic comes fitted with one.

You probably know what the “D” and “P” modes on your gear shift mean, but what does the “L” mean on a gear shift Honda Civic?
The L gear on a Honda Civic stands for “low” gear, suitable for difficult terrain. When you use the L gear, the transmission doesn’t shift normally. Instead, your transmission will stay in the low gear, resulting in lower motor power in exchange for extra engine torque.

In the right driving conditions, the L gear is an efficient transmission. It is available in some manual and automatic transmission vehicles. Let’s take a closer look at what the L gear in a Honda Civic is all about.

The L gear and how it works

As earlier mentioned, the L gear on the gearshift stands for low gear. This gear helps to ensure that you drive safely and that your Civic’s engine’s power is maximized in challenging situations.

The L gear in a Honda Civic is also sometimes referred to as the first gear in front-wheel drives. It is available on some manual and automatic transmissions. It works by limiting the amount of fuel fed into the engine. This increases torque while decreasing engine speed.

As a result, your car gets slower while sending more power to the wheels. The L gear is unpopular among drivers since many do not understand how it works or when to use it.

l gear Honda Civic
L gear in a Civic is the bottom of the transmission options.

How to shift to L gear in Honda Civic

Manual transmission

The L gear is often at the end of the shifting lever. To shift into L gear, you must first slow down your vehicle. Follow these steps:

  • Take your foot off the throttle pedal while in Drive and allow your automobile to decelerate down to at least 20 mph.
  • Continue at a steady speed.
  • Then, move the shifter to the L gear.
  • If the RPMs go too high, you’ll need to reduce the speed further.

Pro tip 

Do not change to low gear at high speeds. You risk causing irreparable harm to the transmission and engine if you do so. When shifting into low gear, always travel at a low speed.

Automatic transmission

A computer system controls the transmission and allows the engine to run at a range of RPMs in automatic transmissions.

  • You must maintain a steady speed of 20 to 25 mph for as long as you choose to drive in this mode.
  • Then, let go of the gas pedal to shift into low gear, where you can go at 10 to 15 mph.

Handy Hint: Another gear mode that often confuses is D3. Here’s what D3 means in a Civic.

When to use the L gear

Driving in L gear improves the efficiency and dependability of your vehicle. However, it is not intended for daily use.

There are certain conditions where the L gear is suitable for use. Some ideal conditions are:


The low gear increases the power of your vehicle. This makes it excellent for towing vehicles or moving heavy cargo. However, before using low gear, you should always check your car’s owner’s manual to determine the maximum speed to drive at. 

Steep incline and decline

Steep inclines can be tough to climb without overworking your engine. When driving up hills, low gear is recommended since it delivers greater torque to help with the climb. It also relieves the strain on your engine.

Shifting to low gear when going downhill also aids in maintaining a moderate and steady speed. It keeps your transmission from overheating, and you won’t have to ride your brakes. Riding your brakes might result in brake failure, so driving in low gear protects your Civic’s brakes.

Handy Hint: If you have ever wondered what the mysterious “brake hold” button does, here’s the answer.

Driving in snow

Driving on ice and snow can be quite dangerous. With too much speed, your car may skid off the road. Shifting to a lower gear allows you to drive with less speed and more power. In slippery weather, this helps your wheels grip the road and keeps your car from spinning out of control.

Why you should use the L gear in a Honda Civiv

Using the L gear not only increases power; it also benefits your car in several ways. The advantages of using the L gear on your Honda Civic can help it last longer.

Here are some of its benefits for your car.

Increased fuel economy

The L gear limits the amount of fuel that enters the engine. Due to the reduced pressure on the engine, it consumes less fuel, automatically improving fuel economy.

Better control

Using L gear improves the driving experience. Your Civic is more reliable and efficient on bad roads in this position. You’ll be able to maneuver your vehicle in challenging scenarios and severe weather.

Also, you won’t have to slow down on bad roads because the transmission successfully controls speed and increases the acceleration rate.

It produces more torque.

Shifting gears has a direct impact on the torque produced. It changes as the speed changes.

So, there is an indirect effect between speed and torque. When you slow down your Civic, more torque is produced and vice versa.

The low speed and low pressure produced by the L gear mean that your Civic has more torque.

Related questions

Is it good to always drive my Civic in L gear?

You shouldn’t always drive your Civic in low gear. Overdoing it may cause damage to your transmission.

This is because the low gear runs at higher RPMs. This means that your engine is working harder than it would in a higher gear.

When using low gear, only use it for a short period. Revert to “drive” once you’ve finished. This is the ideal position your shifter should be in when driving. 

If you drive in low gear for an extended period, the transmission in your car may fail due to stress. It is advisable to use it based on the road conditions.

How fast can my Civic go in L gear?

The speed of this mode depends on your car and whether it has an automatic or manual transmission. You may expect to reach a top speed of 10 to 15 mph when driving in low gear.

You may find the suggested speed limit for low gear in your car’s manual. They often advise drivers to keep their speed below a specified limit. When you drive too fast, you put additional strain on your Civic’s transmission, which may snap due to the tension.

Can I shift my Civic from D to L while driving?

You can shift from D to L while driving, but not at high speeds. Shifting into L at high speeds, if the car doesn’t stop you, could lead you to blow the engine and ruin the transmission. It’s best to do it at a low speed.


Many people, myself included, will often drive their new car and never get around to figuring out what certain features, buttons, or modes do.

If there’s anything in your Civic you don’t understand, please use the search function on this blog so I can answer it for you.

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