What is Each Gear Used For?

Many learner drivers find the many gears a little daunting and wonder what each gear is used for. Knowing what each gear is used for and when to use it isn’t a skill you need to master right away as you’ll receive instructions and prompts from your driving instructor before and when you need to do it.

You do however need to start with some basics and with that, we’ll explain what each gear is most commonly used for. Essentially, you need to change gear to gain greater power (change down gear for overtaking or going up a hill), or to reduce the amount of fuel being used (changing up gear makes the engine run slower, using less fuel).

When learning to drive, you should be observing ahead, to the sides and to the rear of your car (via internal and external mirrors), so try your best to avoid looking at the gears when changing. 

To help gain confidence in gear changing, practice before driving the car, with the engine switched off and the clutch pedal fully pressed down. Go all the way up though the gears, down the gears and also practice block changing until you can do it without looking at the lever.

What is 1st gear used for?
What is 1st gear used for?

What is 1st Gear Used For?

You’ll use 1st gear in a car for:

  • Moving off from a stationary position.
  • Parking manoeuvres.
  • Moving along at slow speeds in traffic queues.
What is 2nd gear used for?

What is 2nd Gear Used For?

You’ll use 2nd gear in a car for:

  • Gaining speed after changing from 1st gear.
  • Moving off from a stationary position when descending a steep hill.
  • Making left and right turns from one road to another.
What is 3rd gear used for?

What is 3rd Gear Used For?

You’ll use 3rd gear in a car for:

  • Gaining speed after changing from 2nd gear.
  • When you need to change down from a higher gear to gain greater power (for going uphill) or acceleration (to overtake).
  • When you want to change down from a higher gear to help the vehicle slow down via engine braking.
What is 4th gear used for?

What is 4th Gear Used For?

You’ll use 4th gear in a car for:

  • Gaining speed after changing from 3rd gear.
  • Driving around towns and cities at a speed of around 30 mph or so.
  • Gaining a little more power or acceleration by changing down from 5th or 6th gear.
  • When you want to change down from a higher gear to help the vehicle slow down via engine braking.
What is 5th and 6th gear used for?
What is 5th and 6th gear used for?

What is 5th and 6th Gear Used For?

You’ll use 5th and 6th gear in a car for:

  • Driving at high speeds on main roads, dual carriageways and motorways.
  • Many years ago, most cars had 4 forward gears. 5th gear was introduced as a fuel efficient cruising gear. Some cars also have a manual 6 forward speed gearbox. Having extra gears may improve fuel economy and for the lower gears, it can help certain vehicles with off-road capability or towing heavy loads.
  • 5th or 6th gear if you car has it are only used for cruising at high speeds to help reduce the amount of fuel being used.

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