Home > Tips & Tricks > FAQ What is P N R D meaning and S / C/ W mode

FAQ What is P N R D meaning and S / C/ W mode

P N R D Meaning


P or also referred to as the Park position is used when the vehicle is parked. Only move the shifter to P when vehicle is completely stopped. If you try to move the shifter to P while the car is moving you may hear loud noises coming from the transmission area. After you place the transmission in P, make sure to also place the parking brakes.

N stands for Neutral. When in Neutral position no power is transmitted to the wheels. If you wanted to push the car or load it up on a tow truck, you should move the selector to N. Do not move the level to N if the vehicle is in motion.

R stands for Reverse. Place the gear on R to backup when the car is fully stoped.

D stands for Drive. Before you select the D position, always press the brake pedal first. When in D position transmission is engaged and you are ready to drive.

S / C / W Meaning

S stands for Sport. You should use S mode for regular driving.


C stands for Comfort. When the C mode is selected the following happens:

  • Automatic transmission starts in second gear when you take off. This helps in icy or snow conditions. Unless you manually select the 1st gear position of press the gas pedal all the way and activate the kick switch, the car will always start on second gear when on C mode.
  • Transmission shifts to the higher gear earlier than in S mode. You will notice the car shift to the higher gear at lower RPM.
  • When placed in R (reverse/backup) and transmission is in C or W mode, the power transmission ratio is also affected.

These settings are designed to help in slippery road conditions. You should not drive with selector on C or W mode at all times.

W stands for Winter mode. It operates similarly to the C mode and was used instead of the letter C  in some of the earlier Mercedes-Benz cars.

M stands for Manual mode. Set the shifter to M if you would like to change gears manually. When the transmission is placed on manual mode you should see the letter M on the instrument cluster display.

Downshift / Upshifting

If you would like to force the automatic transmission to a lower gear press the gear selector toward the D- and the transmission will downshift.

If you would like to shift to the next higher gear when you are driving you can slightly tap the gear selector towards the D+ symbol and the transmission will upshift.

Adaptive Automatic Transmission shifting

The way you drive your Mercedes-Benz is monitored by the vehicle and is used to influence the transmission shifting points. You can also have an effect on the transmission to make it shift earlier or later by either, switching the transmission to manual more or if in automatic mode you can:

  • Apply less pressure on the gas pedal will cause the transmission to shift earlier ( at lower RPMs).
  • Applying more pressure to the gas pedal, flooring it or pressing the gass pedal all the way will activate the kick down switch and the car will stay longer in gear and upshift later.

How to activate the Kickdown Switch

You can activate the kick down switch by pressing the gas pedal all the way to the floor.

The kickdown switch can be used if you are trying to accelerate. It will force the transmission to go into a lower gear for higher torque output and therefore faster acceleration.

Common Problems

Selected gear not shown in cluster. No P N R D indicator


The most likely cause that the gear is not being displayed on instrument cluster dashboard is a defective shifter module. If the indicator P N R D is very hard to see or pixels are missing then it typically is a cluster issue.

What does W and S buttons mean, shifter?


W stands for Winter Mode

S stands for Sport / Standard

In Winter mode the transmission starts off in 2nd gear. Shift points are also lowered in Winter mode so less torque goes to the wheel and therefore it is less likely that the car slip in icy condition.

Transmission Emergency Operation / Limp Mode

When transmission goes into Emergency / Limp mode it will get stuck in second gear and will no longer upshift of downshift. It means there is a malfunction with the transmission therefore carefully drive the car home. Speed is limited to 30 mph. If your car goes into Emergency Limp Mode read this article, DIY Transmission Troubleshooting Tips.

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