Car gear allow you to drive a car with a minimum load on the engine. Modern cars typically have five forward and one reverse gear, although some cars now have a sixth forward gear, allowing for better fuel economy when driving at higher speeds over long distances.

To change car gear:

• Release the accelerator pedal and depress the clutch pedal at the same time.

• Remove your left hand from the steering wheel, grasp the gear lever knob and carefully but firmly move the lever from one position to another.

• Return your left hand to the steering wheel.

• Slowly release the clutch pedal and at the same time turn on the power by depressing the accelerator pedal.

When changing car gear, you must always keep your eyes on the road. The sound of the engine can tell you when to change car gear. As you accelerate, the engine starts to whine and gets higher. This is because the engine is reaching its limit for the gear you are in. When you hear this, you must change.


• Low gears provide sufficient acceleration, but wear out before the vehicle starts to move very quickly.

• High gears provide speed but not acceleration.

For a smooth ride, you should avoid “cranking” (shifting too hard). For smoother shifting, let the shift lever hold for a second as it crosses the neutral zone.

In the driving test, the examiner expects you to:

• Select a gear that matches the speed you need to drive and the road conditions you are facing.

• Shift gears smoothly, safely and under control.

• Return your hand to the steering wheel after changing gear.

• Do not look at the shift lever when shifting gears.

• Do not slip when the clutch pedal is depressed or the gear lever is in neutral position.

block change

You don’t have to use the car gear in the exact sequence. In your case, the gear may be missing. This is called a block switch. Let’s say you’re driving at 60 miles per hour, but you need to brake and slow down to 20 miles per hour. Here you wouldn’t have to downshift, but you could downshift from fifth to third or even second. You can also lock up the gear so you can shift from third to fifth when accelerating, a method that helps save fuel. Replacing blocks also reduces clutch wear as it is used less frequently.

Select a lower gear when accelerating

Lower gears provide more power and acceleration. Sometimes you will need to downshift because you need a burst of power and acceleration when overtaking, for example.

engine brake

When you take your foot off the accelerator pedal, the engine automatically brakes the car, this is known as engine braking. In high gears, this effect is barely noticeable, but in low gears, engine braking is noticeably more noticeable and is an effective way to slow the car down.

go downhill

When driving downhill, select a lower gear for engine braking to control speed.

FIRST – the gear that gives the most power, but the lowest speed. It is used for launching, maneuvering and avoiding hazards.

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

THIRD – Used for driving uphill, through a hazard at speed and where a greater degree of power is needed than fourth will allow.

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 carriageways, motorways and other such open roads.

REVERSE – A high powered gear used for driving the vehicle backwards.

NEUTRAL – Disengages the engine from the wheels.

On your test, when changing gears, the examiner will expect you to:

  • Use the controls smoothly and correctly
  • Balance the accelerator and clutch to move away smoothly
  • Accelerate evenly
  • Avoid stalling the car
  • Choose the right gear and change in good time before a hazard
  • Brake gently and in good time
  • Know how and when to apply the hand brake


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