How to Downshift





Introduction: How to Downshift

Downshifting is a skill that will benefit you if used correctly. First thing you need to know is how to drive a manual transmission. Downshifting can actually be good for your transmission and can make your clutch last longer. Every car has a powerband which is usually between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm. Thats pretty much the range you want to try to keep when driving standard. If your rpms are pretty low than you aren't going to go that fast. You might actually stall out your car. Thats when you should downshift to get your rpms higher and where they need to be.

Step 1: Clutch, Brake, Gas

In a standard car there are 3 pedals unlike automatic that has only two. The far left is your clutch. The clutch is used when ever you have to shift to any gear including neutral. Your clutch is important when downshifting since you will have to shift down a gear. The two other pedals are your normal break and gas.

Step 2: How to Shift

The first thing you do when downshifting is step all the way down on the clutch. Shift thoroughly so your shift can be smoother when you shift down. Make sure you only downshift if your rpm's are 5,500 or below that way you can get in the power band range.

Step 3: Shifting

Shift to the gear before the one you are on. For our example we are shifting from 3rd gear to 2nd. You have to let go of the gas and press down in the clutch the whole time you are shifting. Once you have the gear you want give it gas and let go of the clutch simultaneously. Try to even it out to where you don't jerk a lot and have a smooth shift.

Step 4: When to Downshift

We went on a hill which was a perfect example for when to downshift. We were trying to get up the hill but our rpm was under the power band so we couldn't make it. We were rolled back as the car started to shake which meant the car was going to stall out. We were in 2nd and we downshifted to first. Our rpm got to the range where they needed to be and the car started getting speed and we made it up the hill. Downshifting makes your rpm higher which increases speed.

Step 5: Finish

All it takes it practice and this skill will benefit you a lot! This is the car we used for our example(s).



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    Are you allowed to drive a manual car if you pass in an automatic in the US? Here in the UK, if you pass your driving test in an auto, you can only drive autos. Most people here learn in a manual car, seems odd to me that changing down great might not be second nature to a driver.

    2 replies

    amaZing (how the UK/GB confines to transmission types)..! They make many things unnecessarily harD over there, but I would say this one migght be justified.

    yes there are no licence restrictions on manual transmissions in the us

    You want to drive between 4,000 to 6,000 rpms? Who the hell taught you how to drive

    1 reply

    lolol eGGxactly what i was thinking. I'm w/ you on this ONe brotha!
    Maybe the advice was geared for the regular track-hitting racer. Doesn' tmake sense for me- that's for sure. Waste a car's above avg fuel economy??

    dead easy, been doing it for 50 years. With modern syncromesh boxes its hard to get wrong. I learned on an unsyncro box and had to double declutch. Driven correctly manual gearbox cars (stick shifts for our American cousins) return better mpg and are better for the engine (motor). I have driven automatic gearboxes and do not like them at all. Same with all these modern gadgets, cruise control? every car I ever owned had it, my right boot. Air conditioning? open a window. :-)

    1 reply

    hear hear couldn't agree more. Also it's best to go up a steep hill in the proper gear, down shifting while on the hill can cause your car to stall or worse wreck your gearbox/clutch.

    Another thing to keep in mind is your rev's most car have the most torc between 2000-3000rpm. Down shifting above that is pointless, though if you down shift at say 5000 rpm you could sent your engine straight into it's rev limiter.

    I don't know how you could learn to drive and not know how to do this - as you change speed you have to shift up and down all the time. My Dad taught me to double declutch which is often handy if the box is old or there is a big difference in the ratios - eg going down to 1st while moving. He also showed me how you can change gear without the clutch. In a modern gearbox with synchro and blockers it is not too difficult but you can do some damage if you are not careful - don't blame me if you try it and wreck your gearbox! However on two occasions when I have had a clutch cable fail I have been stationary so it did me no good!

    takes a lot of practice