Before we begin the ‘how to change up gears’ tutorial, you should have an understanding of:
- The cockpit drill (so that you can reach all controls comfortably).
- What neutral gear is in a car (and how to find it).
- Palming method for gear changing. (The technique we use to find the correct gear).
How to Change Up Gears
Changing up gears is when you change from a low gear such as 1st gear, to a higher gear such as 2nd, then 3rd gear etc. We shall be using the ‘palming method’ to change up gears and we’ll begin in neutral. We’re not yet going to get involved with clutch control. The point of this exercise is to learn where each gear is, going from 1st to 5th gear and to make sure you select the correct gear.
Practice changing up gears in a car with the engine switched off. Ensure the car is secured with the parking brake and that the clutch pedal is fully depressed.
Neutral to 1st Gear
When moving off in a car from a stationary position, we will almost always use 1st gear. To select 1st gear from neutral, place your left hand onto the right-side of the gear lever, with your palm facing away from you, thumb pointing down. Do this in two specific movements. First push the gear stick away from you until it stops, then secondly push the gear stick forwards until it stops. This is first gear.
1st Gear to 2nd Gear
We’re now going to change up a gear from 1st to 2nd gear. Keep your left hand placed on the right-side of the gear lever. palm facing away from you, thumb pointing down. Apply a little pressure to push the gear lever away from you to prevent the gear lever from springing back into the centre neutral position. Then move the gear lever backwards until it stops. This is 2nd gear.
2nd Gear to 3rd Gear
We’re now going to change up a gear from 2nd to 3rd gear. What some learner drivers do is to accidentally put the gear back into 1st rather than 3rd. This can be damaging to the vehicle and hazardous on the road as it can make the car dramatically slow down. It’s important to use this technique to prevent this from happening. Rotate your hand so that your palm is now facing you. Push the gear lever forwards into neutral and allow it to spring into the ventral position directly between 3rd and 4th gear. Now push the gear forwards until it stops. This is 3rd gear.
3rd Gear to 4th Gear
We’re now going to change up a gear from 3rd to 4th gear. Keeping the palm of your hand facing you and pull the gear lever backwards. You will feel the gear lever enter neutral, then continue to pull the lever backwards until it stops. This is 4th gear.
4th Gear to 5th Gear
We’re now going to change up a gear from 4th to 5th gear. Again, keep the palm of your hand facing you and push the gear lever forward until you feel it go into neutral. Once in neutral, push the gear lever over to the right until it stops, then finally push the gear stick forwards until it stops. This is 5th gear.