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How to use Gears

Most cars have five- speed standard gearbox – gear positions are shaped like a letter H. Some have more gears, and of course, reverse gear, which is often positioned to one side or another, and will be protected to prevent you accidentally selecting it whilst driving. There is usually a small diagram of gear positions on the top of the gear lever.

When to change gear –The gears are used to match the speed of the engine to the speed of the car
as the car picks up speed you need to select a higher gear. Each gear has limited amount of power the higher the gear the less power but the more the speed, listening to the engine sound helps to determine when to change gears, some cars are fitted with gear shift indicators.
This is typically a small light with an arrow, or a message on the dashboard, indicating that the car thinks you should be in a different gear.

Gear and speed range guide
(Beginners drivers only – experienced drivers know the right gear by the engine sound)
1st gear: 0–10 mph
2nd gear: 10–20 mph
3rd gear: 20–30 mph
4th gear: 30–40 mph
5th gear: 40+ mph

How to change gear:

  • Place your left hand on gear stick
  • Press the clutch pedal fully and at the same time release the gas
  • Select the gear you need
  • Release the clutch slowly and at the same time gradually pressing gas pedal.How to use Gears

Which gear to use for each situation?

NEUTRAL - Disengages the engine from the wheels. This is where no gear is selected.

FIRST - The gear giving the greatest power but lowest speed. Used for moving off, negotiating hazards, manoeuvring and for creeping slowly in traffic and at junctions.

SECOND - Used for slow speed situations such as roundabouts and junctions, for moving off downhill and for increasing speed after moving off

THIRD - is used to build up speed and when you need more power for climbing hills. It also increases your control when going down steep hills and dealing with some bends.

FOURTH - Low power but the greatest speed range. Used for most driving situations at and over 30 mph where there are no hazard to negotiate.

FIFTH - Lowest power, highest speed. Used for high speed cruising on dual carriage ways, motor ways and other such open roads

REVERSE - A high powered gear used for driving the vehicle backwards

The examiner on your driving test will expect you to:

  • Use the controls smoothly and correctly 
  • Co-ordinate the accelerator and clutch to move away smoothly 
  • Smooth easy gear change
  • Select correct gear for the road and traffic condition

Block Gear changing

Changing Down

As a general rule, it is preferable and safer to brake to the desired speed and then change down into the appropriate gear. It may be necessary to maintain a slight pressure on the footbrake whilst changing. Deciding which gears to skip depends on the vehicle, road and traffic conditions.
 Most common combinations are:

5th to 3rd
4th to 2nd
3rd to 1st

Changing Up

Many situation when changing up it is desirable to skip gears. However, beware, accelerating too fiercely for too long in lower gears as this uses more fuel could damage engine. Deciding which gears to skip depends on the vehicle, road and traffic conditions. Most common combinations are

1st to 3rd
2nd to 4th
3rd to 5th

It is not necessary to change gears in sequence. For example: If you are driving along at 60 mph in 5th gear, and you want to turn left into a side road, you may be able to do so without having to stop. As you approach the junction you need to reduce your speed until you are going slowly enough to take the junction safely, in most cars appropriate gear will be 2nd. So, move the gear lever directly to the second gear skipping the other gears then continue to turn left in 2nd gear.
The benefits of this style of driving include better fuel economy and more steering control in emergencies.

How to use Gears
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