Driving Tips: How And When To Change Gears

by IndianAuto Team | 20/12/2018
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Despite passing the driving test, many of us struggle to figure out how to change gear properly. Therefore, IndianAuto will show you the most useful tips of changing gear.

Many proper driving tips are not taught at the driving school and we have to learn these on our own. With this article, Indian Auto will focus on the most appropriate methods of changing gears in a manual transmission car so that you can improve your driving skills. Please note that the tips below are applicable only for average cars with a manual gearbox.

Understand your gears

Knowing how the gears work is very crucial

Knowing how the gears work is very crucial

  • 1st Gear

We always use this gear for driving from a stationary position or manoeuvring and driving slowly in traffic and at junctions.

  • 2nd Gear

The second gear is normally used when moving off down steep hills, accelerating after the wheels start rolling for a while, and driving slow. 2nd Gear is considered more economical than 1st Gear when driving in crowded areas with very slow traffic and sharp turns.

  • 3rd Gear

When we accelerate into normal speed and need more power to drive up hills, the third gear is the best option. You can also use this gear to go down steep hills if your controlling skills are good. Moreover, 3rd Gear can be used in the city with the average speed which is about 30-35 km/h.

  • 4th Gear

Change into this gear if the driving speed exceeds 35 km/h and there aren’t any dangers to confront. To be specific, you can take advantage of 4th Gear to move faster in the city, but you should not exceed 50 km/h.

  • 5th and 6th Gear

These gear are not installed on all vehicles, check if your car has them. These gears offer better fuel economy. Its best use is driving on open roads with a constant high speed which can be over 65 km/h.

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Keep in mind: Low gears - acceleration, higher gears - speed and economy

In a car, the first, second, and third gears are low gears which are used for taking off from a stationary position and quick acceleration. Besides, the high gears are the fourth and fifth gears, which allow the car to reach higher top speed.

Smart usage of gears provides a huge impact on fuel economy. Specifically, accelerating early to higher gears when the roads are open reduces the fuel consumption of a car.

Do these following exercises to master the changing gears skills.

In order to efficiently take advantage of your gears, practice changing them gradually.

  • First, try to look for a straight, wide, and open road.

  • Second, start off with the 1st gear and then change into the 2nd Gear as soon as possible

  • Secondly, speed up to about 20-25 km/h, then make a leap to 3rd Gear.

  • Finally, accelerate to 30-40 km/h and move to the 4th Gear.

For practising changing DOWN through the gears gradually

  • First, accelerate your speed up to 40 km/h and make sure your car is in the 4th gear.

  • Secondly, inspect the mirror carefully if the road is safe or not, then brake lightly to slow down the car. Release the brake when the speed goes reach about 25 km/k and move into the 3rd Gear.

  • Third, recheck the mirror, if it’s safe, then gently hit the brake again and slow the speed down to approximately 15 km/h. After that, release it and move to the 2nd Gear.

  • Finally, recheck the mirror to make sure it is safe to accelerate your speed to practise the previous exercise.

*Constantly practising the two exercise until you master your skills.

**Only practise using the 5th and 6th gear when you are totally proficient with first 4 gears.


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Remember to change gears before a slope or turn

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Slowing down when about to make a turn is an importing thing to remember

When you are approaching a steep slope, your car may need additional power to climb it. In this situation, always change into a lower gear before climbing the slope in order to avoid having to change some gears while climbing which can harm your gearbox as well as make your car lose its momentum. Similarly, do the same before taking a turn, as this gives you more control the wheels.

Block gear changes

Many drivers, who learned to drive years ago, get used to always changing the gears one-after-one ( 5-4-3-2-1 or 1-2-3-4-5). However, it’s not a good idea to practice using the gears in such a way for modern cars. Because with the latest technologies, it is possible to change the gears in blocks (4th-2nd or 5th-2nd).

Cars nowadays are much lighter, far more aerodynamic, and way more powerful than the cars of decades ago. This means that the way of changing gears in a sequence which is widely applicable in older car models is no more useful in modern cars. For instance, when you are at the speed of 60 km/h in the 5th gear, and by the same time you are about to make a left turn, all you need to do is reducing your speed to a safer and lower speed with the brakes and choose a gear that you feel most comfortable to drive with. Generally, the 2nd gear is considered the best gear to drive with after making a turn. In other words, you can change directly from the 5th gear to the 2nd gear without bothering the others.

driving tips - Block gear change helps you save time

Block gear change helps you save time


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Change gears smoothly

Smooth gear changes are crucial if you want better economic fuel consumption, and it also makes the passengers in a vehicle comfortable. Avoid changing gears too quickly since this drains a lot of fuel and can also damage the gearbox if done frequently. Therefore, change gears slowly and pause when crossing the neutral gear zone between the gears. In addition, shift in straight lines or 90-degree angle to ensure the smoothest shifts.

Don’t overuse the engine

Don't let the car’s speed exceed the redline area in the tachometer because this will harm the engine. If there's no tachometer in your car, listen carefully to the engine. If you're accelerating and the engine starts to sound extremely rough, you overuse it. Therefore, when the car begins to make a low, rumbling noise and constantly vibrates, then you're exceeding the speed limit of your car and you need to slow down.

drovong tips - Practising changing gear

Practising changing gear will 100% improve your driving experience

By keeping in mind the aforementioned tips, you will master the gear shifting sooner or later. Indian Auto hopes those tips can help you know more about your car’s gear and how to use them properly. See more useful drive tips here. For example, accelerating early to higher gears when the roads are open reduces the fuel consumption of a car.

Read more tips and guides from IndianAuto

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