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I believe 1st gear on an automatic is for when you're going less than 5MPH going down hill on ice or on snow or just a really big down hill that you need to be real careful and you don't want to go too fast so you want to lock the transmission to keep it from upshifting.
if the car upshifts to second, then it makes the car go faster down the hill.
you can still apply the brakes, but keeping the car on 1st gear going down hill less than 5MPH not allowing it to upshift helps with braking

same with keeping it on 2nd gear, but I guess that's if you don't want to go faster than 20MPH or 30MPH but you still need to apply the brakes going down hill

there's no need to down shift going up because the transmission will automatically do that for you. that's why is called an automatic but you would have to floor it a little bit more to let the transmission know, hey I need more power and then it will downshift for you.
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