Changing Gears

Driving Tutorials | Changing Gear

Gears to go, Brakes to slow

How to change gear 

1, Put your hand to the gear lever first: This will enable you to get the correct hand position without looking or having the clutch down too long. 

2, Press down the clutch, to disengage the engine from the gearbox, at the same time release the accelerator pedal. 

3, Move the lever gently but positively from one position to another. Don’t use unnecessary force when changing gear. Ease the lever from one position to another and try not to rush to change. 

4, Re-engage the clutch by feeding it all the way up slowly (you don't need to find the biting point again) and simultaneously apply the power.

Although it sounds straightforward changing gears requires co-ordination of foot and hand movements, so don’t be surprised if the gear changes feel clumsy at first. It soon becomes second nature. 

Practice makes perfect. Try not to look at the gear lever, let your hand do the work. You need to keep your eyes on the road for any developing hazards.

Hand Position - Palming

When the gear lever is in neutral it usually sits in the 'Home' position. This is between the third and fourth gears. 

For lower gears 'palm' the gear lever away from you. Turn your hand so that it faces away from you, this way you will automatically put pressure on the gear lever to move it away. 

Then for the higher gears, second to third, push forward gently, it will align itself up between the third and forth, pause, then push forward gently again and it will slot into third.

Changing Up Gears 

You would usually start off in first gear, except setting off down a hill. 

Second gear is about 10mph 

Third gear is about 20mph 

Forth gear is about 30mph 

Fifth gear is from about 50mph 

Going down a hill these gears can be changed earlier as gravity will help you along, as when you put the clutch down you will roll in that direction. 

Going up a hill you will need to add about 5mph to 10mph for each gear. Gravity is now working against you and when you put the clutch down you will slow a little.

Changing Down Gears 

Use engine braking and the brakes to slow down. 

Once you slow down from 30mph in forth gear you would need to think about third gear. 

Third gear below 30mph 

Second gear below about 15mph -18mph 

First gear below about 5mph - 8mph 

These gears can be higher or lower depending whether you are going up or down a hill. Higher speeds for uphill and lower speeds for downhill.

Block Changing 

You don’t have to use every gear when changing up or down. Where appropriate you can skip gear change also known as block changing. 

For instance, when overtaking a slow vehicle you might accelerate in third gear from 30 – 50mph then change directly from third to fifth gear once you are safely past. 

When approaching a hazard such as a road junction or a roundabout you should first reduce your speed then select the appropriate gear to negotiate the hazard. This may mean from changing directly from fifth gear into second gear, or forth gear to first.


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