What Speed Should You Change Gears?
When learning to drive a manual car, you’ll need to change gear a lot and once you’ve got the hang of knowing how to change gears (see palming method for changing gears), the next stage is when to change gears.
As a learner, your driving instructor or supervising passenger will initially help you by providing prompts for changing gear, but for some learner drivers, they gain a better understanding by knowing what speed they should be going for a gear change.
All cars are a little different, but if you want to have a general idea for what speed you should change gears at, follow this guide:
|1st gear||Between 0 mph and 10 mph|
|2nd gear||Between 10 mph and 20 mph|
|3rd gear||Between 20 mph and 30 mph|
|4th gear||Between 30 mph and 40 mph|
|5th gear||40 mph and above|
|6th gear||40 mph and above|
1st gear is only used for pulling away from a stationary position and for crawling along slowly in traffic queues. The speed to change up from 1st into 2nd gear is usually between 5 mph and 10 mph.
2nd gear is commonly used for taking left or right turns; for example turning off from a main road into a minor road. The speed to change up from 2nd gear into 3rd gear is usually from between 15 mph and 20 mph.
3rd gear is often used for driving around residential areas and areas that are restricted to 20 mph zones. 3rd gear is also often used as an overtaking gear. The speed to change up from 3rd gear into 4th gear is usually from between 25 mph and 30 mph.
4th gear is very often used for driving along 30 mph roads in towns and cities. The speed you usually change up from 4th gear into 5th gear is from between 35 mph and 40 mph.
5th Gear and 6th Gear
5th, or 6th gear (if you car has it) are termed as ‘overdrive’ gears. An overdrive gear allows your car to cruise at a high speed while maintaining low engine revolutions. You’ll use 5th or 6th gear for highway cruising at speeds of 60 mph to 70 mph and are ideal gears for best fuel economy. You’ll usually change up from 4th gear into 5th or 6th gear at a speed of around 40 mph or so.