How to Skip Gears Without Destroying Your Engine

Some manual transmission drivers will tell you never to skip a gear, you can learn to do it safely. Many drivers find slowing down is easier when skipping a few gears. Entering highways at high speeds is also sometimes simpler when you can skip a few of those middle spots. Learning how to do it safely should be your top priority before taking your car out to try this technique.

Why Skip Gears?

When car brakes were less advanced and reliable, you would downshift one gear at a time to help your car slow down. Today, you can rely on your brakes to slow down your car, leaving you free to skip down a few gears when you’re ready to slow or stop the car. Because you’re slowing down with the brakes, your brake lights will indicate to drivers behind you that your car is losing speed. Skipping gears while downshifting can add safety to your driving.

When Is Gear Skipping Safe?

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Image via Flickr by 2Tales

If you’re in a high gear, like fourth, and you want to slow down using the brakes, the transmission will be fine. Slowing down to 25 mph in fourth gear isn’t a problem. The problem arises if you try to speed up again while you’re still in fourth gear. As long as you’re only slowing down, skipping to second gear while slowing down, or even to first, will reduce the wear on your gearbox. Just remember to release the clutch more slowly to accommodate for the gear skipping.

Can I Skip Gears When Speeding Up?

Some proponents of skipping gears while slowing down will tell you not to do it while speeding up. In fact, you can safely skip gears while accelerating if you understand the circumstances. The main thing is keeping the engine and transmission speeds the same. You have to do the slow clutch release technique. Ultimately, make sure you’re not sending your engine into the red trying to accelerate too fast in too low a gear. If you’re wondering how to get the hang of this, start by skipping fourth when hitting the highway. The reason this is a safe and relatively easy one to start with is because you’re hitting a fast, steady speed when you enter the highway. That shift straight into fifth can save you a little time, especially since you’re accelerating so quickly when driving up the on-ramp.

What Else Should I Know?

Make sure you’re comfortable driving a manual first. Gear skipping is not for someone who learned to use a stick last week. In terrible circumstances, you could cause serious transmission or engine damage. Otherwise, you could wear out your clutch or cause engine problems by trying to accelerate too fast in the wrong gear. Don’t skip more than two gears at once, no matter how good you get at it. Keep an eye on your engine, and don’t do anything with your transmission you aren’t comfortable with. Shifting through every gear is always your fallback option while you’re learning to skip.