For those who daily drive a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission, it’s likely a common practice. Rather than rowing through all five or six gears, drivers will skip from third to fifth, fourth to sixth and so on.
But is this practice safe to do? Engineering Explained tackled the common practice in its latest episode and the short answer is yes, it’s perfectly okay to skip gears when upshifting or downshifting. However, both practices should be undertaken with a little bit of background knowledge. For those who have years of experience working a manual gearbox, this may seem like common sense, but for others it’s good information.
When skipping a gear with a manual transmission, it should be noted the revs will take slightly longer to drop from the high revs to the lower revs. If you shift from third to fifth gear and let the clutch out at the same speed as normal, the car will jerk as it works to settle the unbalance. Instead, waiting just a tad longer to let the clutch out will keep things matched equally as the gearbox moves to meet a lower rev level.
When down shifting, it’s a little more tricky. Rev matching is essential when shifting from a low to high gear. For example, if you’re driving along the highway and you want to pass a slower moving vehicle, a shift from fifth to third may be in order. Rev matching the engine to the clutch will keep the car from jerking, and in the worst case, locking up the wheels. When the clutch speed and engine speed meet, they should be in near-perfect harmony. Plus, no one looks good under revving a car while down shifting. Clutch wear will also creep up on you, too.
Finally, another common question is answered: can you start moving from a standstill in a gear other than first? Again, the answer is yes, but it’s going to cause slightly more clutch wear. In first gear, the clutch can be completely released at a lower speed, while in second gear, it takes longer for the engine and clutch to match. It’s not an ideal thing to do, but there aren’t detrimental side effects either. With all of this said, happy shifting.