How to shift and downshift the car

Once you have your driving license, changing and downshifting is an automatism that is (almost) perfectly acquired by all drivers, but in this article we still want to reiterate how to use the car’s gears without errors!

Read on to find out how to shift and downshift gears to drive correctly .

Car gear shifting: how to properly shift

Do you know how to use the gearbox correctly? It is not difficult, just learn the correct steps and the use of the so-called “engine brake”: it allows you to slow down without always using the brake pedal only.

But let’s go in order. On cars equipped with a manual gearbox there are (usually) at least 5 gears, and for sure you already know that the first should be used exclusively for starting, or in any case for parking and maneuvering at minimum speeds.

The second, on the other hand, must be inserted when you pick up speed, up to the fifth (or sixth): the general indication is to keep the number of revolutions under control and increase the gear every time the engine reaches about 2,000 .

This, described in a simplified way, is the standard procedure for increasing speed: but how do you slow down using the gearbox? You just need to climb: here’s how.

Car shifting: how to downshift

Once the car has picked up speed and you need to slow down, there are 2 solutions:

  • brake using the pedal
  • downshifting

Slowing down while downshifting preserves the brake pads and the entire braking system, and is especially useful on long mountain descents or in heavy traffic. Furthermore, downshifting is also very useful before tackling a hill , so as to have enough engine rpm to tackle it without losing too much power.

But how to properly slow down by downshifting? Easy. Start in the gear you are in, fully depress the clutch without braking or accelerating and downshift, that is, switch to the one just below yours. At this point, releasing the clutch will slow down the car : continue if you have to slow down even more.

Done, you have used the engine brake: but pay attention to some important things!

Car shifting: notions to remember

Never downshift 2 gears less (and never up 2 gears) unless you are keen on the engine and performance of your car. The risk, especially at high revs, is to break the engine.

It is also important to know that you have to climb before the curve, the descent or the climb , in order to prepare for the entry, and never do it during its execution in order not to lose stability, which instead normally happens when braking.

Remember that, as we have said, choosing to downshift is equivalent to taking advantage of the so-called “engine brake”, but that on modern cars (equipped with electronic accelerator) you will have a smaller and different response than that of older ones.


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