How to Change Car Gears in a Manual Car

Jack Dreyer | Thursday 20th June 2024 9:45am

Person holding a gear stick.

Before you can get stuck into learning manoeuvres like parallel or reverse bay parking, every new learner needs to know how to change gear. Itís one of the fundamentals of learning to drive, but for many, it can take a while to get the hang of: donít accelerate hard enough or lift off the clutch too quickly and you could stall. Donít worry though, weíve all been there.

In its simplest terms to change gear, you depress the clutch pedal, move the gear stick to the desired gear, and then slowly release the clutch pedal as you apply the accelerator. Easier said than done when you first get behind the wheel of a car, though!

Check out our guide below on how to change gears in a manual car, so you can drive off like an expert the next time you get behind the wheel.

Get familiar with the pedals

When you first get behind the steering wheel, youíll notice three pedals at your feet: the clutch, the brake, and the accelerator. The brake and the accelerator do exactly what they sound like, bring the car to a stop, and make the car go faster, depending on how hard you press.

The clutch essentially connects the engine to the wheels, and when you press it down, this connection is broken, allowing you to change gears and either increase or decrease your speed.

A woman looks over her shoulder as she reverses her car.

How to change gears in a manual car (Step by step)

Use the following steps to walk you through the gear change procedure with ease:

  1. Ensure the car is in neutral: For most cars, neutral will mean the gear stick is in the middle, between gear selectors.
  2. Turn the car on: Put the key in the ignition and turn it the right way. Some newer cars may have a push button instead and may require you to depress the clutch pedal first.
  3. Depress the clutch pedal: If you havenít already, depress the clutch pedal (furthest left) with your left foot.
  4. Get in gear: Keeping your right hand on the wheel, use your left to move the gear stick into 1st gear. In most cars, you can achieve this by moving it all the way left until you hit the edge and then straight up, using the left-hand side as a guide.
  5. Start to rev: Still depressing the clutch, with your right foot slightly depress the accelerator (far right pedal) to build up some revs.
  6. Find your biting point: Start to ease off the clutch pedal until the car vibrates slightly, this is the biting point. Donít lift off too much, however, as you could stall the car.
  7. Release the handbrake: The car is now ready to go. Ensuring youíve checked your mirrors and blind spot, and indicated if needs be, with your left hand, release your handbrake. Usually operated by pressing in the button and then lifting up slightly before pushing down.
  8. Keep going: The car should be moving slowly now. As you go, slowly release the clutch and increase the revs until youíre no longer on the clutch at all. Remember, you can still stall here if you take the clutch up too quickly or donít give the car enough revs with the accelerator.
  9. The next change: To change gear while already in motion, simply take your foot off the accelerator, depress the clutch to the floor, move the gear stick to the desired gear, and then slowly lift the clutch up as you push the accelerator down. Easy!

Remember, if you stall at any time, donít panic. Apply the brakes, turn the engine off, put it in neutral, and start the steps again.

Changing gear in a manual car tips and tricks

Selecting the right gear at the right time can improve your carís fuel efficiency, and as you get used to driving, youíll get used to the sounds your car makes, and learn whenís best to change. For example, as your car reaches the limit of the gear itís in, it will start to take on a higher, whiny pitch, a clear sign itís time to change to a higher gear.

If you follow these instructions and give it plenty of practice, youíll be changing gears without a second thought in no time at all.

Here at Kwik Fit, we offer a range of services that are designed to keep your car running smoothly. To find out more about the services that we offer or how we can help, visit our services page, stay up to date with our blogs, pop into your local Kwik Fit Centre, or contact us directly.

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