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If you’re learning how to drive in a manual car, getting to grips with gear changes can be one of the toughest parts of learning to drive, but once you get the hang of it, being able to change gears smoothly will become second nature.

If you’re fed up of kangarooing from junctions and hearing the engine struggle as you pick the wrong gear, we give you a few tips and bits of advice on how to change gears smoothly.

Clutch control

The most important aspect of changing gears smoothly is clutch control. Clutch control is one of the first things you’ll learn in your driving lessons, but if you need a bit of help with nailing the skill, read our guide to how to learn clutch control.

If you find the car jolting forwards as you try to pull away from a junction or kangarooing as you move out of a side road, you might be lifting your foot off the clutch too quickly or be sitting too close to the pedals. Remember to change the position of your mirrors if you find you’re too close to the pedals.

Changing up gears

Changing up or down gears at the right time is crucial. Once you’ve had a few driving lessons, you should get a feel for when you need to change up or down a gear. Low gears will provide you with more acceleration but will quickly reach their limit as you pick up speed.

Make sure you don’t change gears too quickly as this can make the gear change jolty. Instead, allow the gearstick to pass through neutral for a couple of seconds before putting it in gear.

Changing down gears

Similarly, you’ll need to change down gears as you slow down. If you don’t change down gears as you lose speed, the car will start stutter and jolt until you do. You will be able to feel when the car is in a gear which is too high as you won’t have enough power to accelerate and gain speed.

Make sure you change down into the correct gear, as choosing a gear which is too low will make the car jolt as you lift your foot off the clutch.

What is coasting on the clutch?

Coasting on the clutch is where you keep your foot down on the clutch when you’re not changing gears. Not only does coasting cause excessive wear to your clutch, but it can also be dangerous as you have less control over your vehicle whilst the clutch is depressed.

In fact, spending too much time coasting during your driving test could lead to you failing your test.

Image via Will Jackson.

Last modified: 14th January 2016

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