Lesson 3: How To Change Gears

you are confident enough and got sufficient control over the steering wheel. now this lesson is to practice changing the gear without looking at them. this driving lesson a very critical for you , driving requires full attention , alertness and concentration on road , not on gear changing.

how to change gear smoothly

whilst learning how to change gear , generally you will need to simply need to gently guide the lever into the correct direction of the gear you are selecting and try not to push too hard. the more gentle you are when changing gear , the easier it is.
gears are obviously parallel to each other. learners can often try to change gear using all sorts of different angles. ensure you change gear using straight lines and 90 degree angels as this will also make gear changing easier and it will require less effort.

before learning to drive , ask a family member or friend if you can practice changing gear in their car.ensure the car is turned off and all you will need to do is keep the clutch pressed to the floor. when you become proficient in changing gears , practice without looking the gear lever.

in all manual transmissions changing gears can be a difficult process for many learner drivers as it requires operating the clutch , keeping control of the car and observations all at the same time , practicing gears and becoming confident with them before you start driving lessons this will benefit you significantly , when the time comes to actually drive a car.

gear lever / shifter  

modern cars usually have 5 forward gears and 1 reverse gear (the picture is 6 gears forward). gears 1 to 5 are always in the same position as detailed in the picture of gear lever. reverse gear is a occasionally located elsewhere and may require a button to press be fore selecting it.
each time a different gear is selected , the clutch must be pressed before using the gear lever. the clutch should be raised slowly for the 1st gear when moving off but can be released much faster from 2nd gear. 


neutral is a position where no gear is selected. during driving lessons , ensure the handbrake is applied and the gear lever is in neutral before starting the engine. at the end of the driving test , also ensure the hand brake is applied and the gear lever in the neutral.

1st gear

1st gear should always be used for moving off from a stationary position unless on a downhill gradient where 2nd gear may be appropriate. 1st gear is also often used with a combination of clutch control in slow moving traffic.

from neutral , cup your hand , push the lever as far right as it will go and push up till it stops. this way you ensure you have selected 1st gear.

2nd gear

2nd gear will allow you to move faster , or if moving slowly in traffic , will be more economical than 1st gear. can also be ideal gear to move off from a stationary position downhill.

learners frequently select 4th gear when they intend 2nd. from 1st gear cup your around the top of the lever , pushing the gear lever to the right and pull down. this eliminates the possibility of a accidentally selecting 4th gear.

3rd gear

3rd for some cars can be an appropriate gear for travelling around towns at 20 or 30 mph. learners can select 1st gear by mistake we whilst driving instead of 3rd. this is dangerous if you left the clutch as it will quickly make your car decrease speed without any brake lights illuminated.

to ensure you select 3rd from 2nd as you push the lever up from 2nd into neutral , the gear levers natural position is not sit between 3rd and 4th , so by releasing your hand from the lever briefly when in neutral , the lever will sit directly between 3rd and 4th. then simply push the lever up into 3rd.

4th gear

another ideal gear for travelling around towns cities. if your car is happy to drive at 30 mph in 4th , it will be a far more economical choice than 3rd. if on a faster road driving in 5th , gear selecting 4th will provide more power and speed to the engine if you need to overtake another vehicle.

from 3rd cup your hand around the lever palm facing you and simply pull straight down.

5th gear

many cars can use 5th gear when driving at 40 mph upwards. 5th gear is to be used on open roads of national speed limits and dual carriageways.

from 4th , cup your hand around the lever and push up into neutral. once in neutral pull the lever as far left until it stops and then push up.


we will talk about reverse gear in details in the next lesson park and reverse.

changing gears and the clutch

clutch control is generally only needed for first gear and reverse. when moving off in first gear from a stationary position , it is important to be gentle with the clutch or else you may stall the car. when the car has momentum , you bring the clutch up much quicker from 2nd gear up to 5th gear.

block changing gears

usually when moving off from a stationary position you will select 1st gear and make your way through all the gears until 5th gear is reached. occasionally you may find the need to go from 1st gear directly into 3rd gear this is perfectly acceptable.
block changing down gears , from 5th to 3rd gear for example , is expected. when you become familiar with the correct technique on how to change gear.

slowing down the car using the gears

several years ago , when slowing down from high speed to either slow speed or a stop , you would need to go down through the gears before stopping. with modern cars this is not necessary. you only need to select a lower gear if you intend on driving at a slower speed.

if for example you are travelling at 60 mph and up a head there is a red light and you need to stop , gently apply the foot brake and cover the clutch with your left foot (place your foot over the clutch but don't press it). gently increase the pressure on the brake until you are around 4 to 5 meters from where you intend on stopping. depress the clutch and either just before you have stopped or when you have stopped the car , select 1st gear. there is no need to go down through the gears.

using this method allows you to keep both hands on the steering wheel and concentrate on the road ahead.


at beginner stage practice to drive to either left or right side of the road rather than driving the center so that it make easy for you to concentrate only on one side.

in case of humps on the roads , slow down the car by applying brake slowly with application of clutch too. after you cross the hump you can release the brake and apply accelerator. it is good to move on second or third gear while going over a hump.

start the car , release the clutch and brake while being in first gear to move the car. after moving some distance , release the accelerator and fully press the clutch and shift to second gear , then release the clutch. apply accelerator slowly to keep the car moving. repeat the process to shift to third , fourth and fifth gear. be careful while driving in fifth gear as the car will be moving much faster.

in  gears higher than 1st it is not necessary to leave clutch pedal smoothly. also , don't change gear frequently , and try to drive in constant speed as much as possible.

when you are proficient in changing from 1st , throw the gears to 5th without looking , practice 5th back down throw the gears to 1st until you are confident without looking.
then practice block changing. change from 5th straight into 1st , 4th straight into 1st , and 3rd into 1st gear.

finally , you have learned about gear lever , different gears , clutch , block changing gears and slowing down using gears. now , you are ready to start the engine for the first drive.

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