Learners Tips – Gear Changes Using the Palming Method

So this is how you should approach this to ensure accuracy (e.g. stability whilst steering), co-ordination (e.g. feet controls), and observation (e.g. looking ahead and not down at the gear lever):

Practice a dry run, that is looking straight ahead, place your left hand on the gear stick, make sure you fully relax your shoulders and both arms, so that your movements glide, and you are not actually fighting against yourself, this is what I mean: if you are really stiff – and worried about it – your body will stiffen up and you will need a lot of effort and energy to move your arms to change gears and steer correctly.

One of the most common occurrences is that when pupils learn gear changes they are too stiff and because they are not relaxed, they can not “detach” their left hand from the right hand, that causes the car to swerve left or right, depending on the gear the pupil is trying to use as the “right hand mirrors the gear movements of the left hand”.

Another common occurrence is that pupils like to have a “little sneaky peak” at the gears, before they use the gear stick, because they think it might help them finding the next gear more accurately. Unfortunately this has the “opposite” effect because pupils: a) whilst they peak at the gears they steer incorrectly (e.g. your hands follow your eyes) and b) even if the hands do not follow the eyes, the moment pupils look down it causes two very dangerous occurrences: a) in the split second pupils look away a hazard(s) could present itself, and the “reaction time” (e.g. thinking time) would be greatly increased, and b) by looking down at the gears it will create a “bad habit” from outset that would need to be quickly addressed and corrected before it develops into an habitual bad habit.

Now for the “feet” controls and accurate movements during gear changes. As a general rule this is the correct procedure to follow: going up the gears – gas with the right foot (e.g. to increase acceleration / speed), then off gas with the right foot, then clutch down with the left foot, then with the left hand gear(s) selection, then gently clutch up, then right foot back on the gas pedal.

Going down the gears – right foot off the gas and immediately switching to cover the footbrake pedal to initiate a gentle (e.g. very light initially, gradually increasing pressure on the foot pedal as circumstances dictate) breaking motion (e.g. this is necessary to maintain control of the car as you use the clutch to change down a gear(s), then with the left foot clutch down, then with the left hand change down to the required gear(s), then clutch up with the left foot, then release the footbrake with the right foot and switch it to cover the gas pedal. Please note: the right foot should maintain a breaking motion and remain on the foot brake pedal during the whole time and only go back on the gas pedal after a complete gear change(s) has been carried out.

By correctly applying accuracy, observation and co-ordination the Palming Method will ensure smooth and accurate gear(s) changes. This is how the Palming Method works: a) familiarise yourself with the gear(s) movements – look at the diagram on the top of the gears – then looking straight ahead, follow the movements shown on the diagram to find the correct gear(s) selection.

Although the Reverse Gear can change with different car models (e.g. some ask you to go forward, whilst other ask you to go backwards) if we concentrate on the main Five Gears this is how it works: a) first, third and fifth gears go forward, and b) second and fourth gears go backwards.

The Lever is designed to always go back to the Neutral Position (e.g. that is no gears are engaged). The Gear Stick has a lateral movements (e.g. that is can go “all the Way” to either left or right from the Neutral Position), therefore to change gear(s) using the Palming Method you: Place your left hand on the lever and then – Please note: your left hand should always cover the gear lever during the “intermediate movements”:

Palm the lever all the way to the left from the neutral position (e.g. push it to the left) till it does not go left any more, then push the lever up, that finds you First Gear.

Palm the gear shift from First Gear, and release the gear, that will position the Gear Lever to back to the Neutral Position, then palm the gear lever all the way to the left from the neutral position till it does not go any more, then push the gear lever down, that finds you Second Gear.

Palm the lever from Second Gear, and release the gear, that will position the Gear Lever back to the Neutral Position, then palm the gear lever, then push the gear lever straight up, that finds you Third Gear.

Palm the gear lever from Third Gear, and release the gear, that will position the Gear Lever back to the Neutral Position, then palm the gear lever, then push the gear lever straight down, that finds you Fourth Gear.

Palm the gear stick from Fourth Gear, and release the gear, that will position the Gear Lever back to the Neutral Position, then palm the gear lever, then palm the lever all the way to the right from the neutral position (e.g. push it to the right) till it does not go any more, then push the lever up, that finds you Fifth Gear.

Remember the Gear Shift is your friend, so treat it gently and it will respond more accurately, facilitating your gear changes.

Good luck and safe driving,

BOLA TANGKAS