How to safely change gears

As a learner driver, you’re probably a little concerned about how to safely change gears as it’s one of the first things many people are unsure of.

When driving, moving away, accelerating or driving uphill, you will need to be able to change to the most appropriate gear, so that you get the best out of your engine.

When you first start learning to drive your instructor will show you how the gearbox works while the vehicle is stationary. This is to ensure that you fully understand how the manual gearbox works BEFORE you start driving.

Step by step guide on how to safely change gears

Follow our step by step guide below and know how to deal with changing gear.

1. Most gear positions are shaped like a letter H. Some have more gears, and of course, reverse gear, which is often positioned to one side or another, and will be protected to prevent you accidentally selecting it while driving. The gear stick will spring into neutral quite easily, when not in use.

2. There is usually a small diagram of gear positions on the top of the gear lever. Keeping the gear positions in mind, depress the clutch and move your gear stick towards first gear. This is the strongest of the gears and provides muscle for moving the car from a stationary position.

3. When accelerating to approximately 10 mph, you will feel the need to change gear. To do this, first place your hand on the gear lever, depress the clutch at the same time, release the gas pedal and change to 2nd gear. Release the clutch slowly and go back onto the gas pedal. The engine note will change with each gear change.

4. As you get faster the need for a strength gear will diminish. At about 20 mph, select 3rd gear. At 30mph select 4th gear and so on. These suggestions are only approximate, as the speed range of each gear overlaps somewhat, but this is a good guide to begin with.

5. If you slow down, you will also need to change down. Braking and stopping can occur in any gear, but remember to change gear when moving on again. For example, braking from 50mph (6th gear) to 20mph (3rd gear).

6. Remember, your eyes should be on the road, and not looking at your gear stick.

Practise makes perfect, and soon you will be able to change gear like a pro!

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