What is Block Gear Changing?
Block gear changing is where you miss out one or more gears. A very commonly used block gear change is for example where a driver is traveling at 30 mph in 4th gear, then changes from 4th gear directly into 2nd gear just before turning off of the road at a junction.
Block gear changing is almost always done when changing down gears, for example when changing from 5th directly into 3rd gear. Occasionally, it can be beneficial to block change up gear, for example if you’ve gained a lot of speed in 3rd gear, you can change directly into 5th gear, missing out on 4th.
Why Block Gear Change?
Years ago, car weren’t as mechanically robust and weren’t as flexible at dealing with the many different types of driving styles. As an example, in a modern car you can easily use the foot brake to slow from around 60 mph, in 5th gear all the way down to 10 mph before depressing the clutch pedal and block gear changing directly into 1st gear from 5th. Do this in an older car and you’ll likely stall the engine.
Also, modern car brakes have become more robust and efficient at doing the job. As a means to slow the vehicle, block gear changing puts the emphasis more on the car’s brakes and less on gear changing (slowing the car by use of gears is called engine braking).
Years ago, driving instructors would teach learners to slow the vehicle by changing down gears sequentially to reduce the burden on the brakes, which with heavy use could result in brake fade (see what is sequential gear changing).
Benefits of Block Gear Changing
The benefit of slowing down your car by block gear changing compared to changing down through all the gears (sequential gear changing), with block changing, you’re essentially doing far less. This means you can keep both hands on the steering wheel more of the time and divert more of your concentration to the road ahead.
Another benefit is car wear-and-tear. While block gear changing will increase wear on your brake pads, it reduces wear on more expensive components such as the clutch and gearbox.