Have you ever looked at your car’s steering wheel and wondered what the plus and minus signs mean? If so, you’re not alone!
The buttons on a steering wheel that go up and down are called paddle shifters. They let you shift up or down manually without having to take your hands off the steering wheel. This makes gear changes safer and faster.
Even if your car has an automatic transmission, you might have them. They will give you a little more control over shifting while you’re driving.
Let’s look more closely at what they do and how to use them right.
What Are Steering Wheel Paddle Shifters
There are things called paddle shifters in a lot of new cars. They are right behind the wheel that you use to drive. The – shifter is the one on the left. And the right one is the + shifter.
The + shifter moves the transmission up a gear, and the – shifter moves it down a gear.
A lot of cars that cost a lot of money use them. But they look just like the ones in your sedan. The only thing that would be different is how they respond.
When you pull on the + shifter, you move up one gear. And if you pull on the “-” shifter, you go down a gear. You can keep your RPMs at a certain level by using them.
When Should You Use Paddle Shifters
Using a paddle shifter does have a few good points. Since you can change the gears, you can shift down for hills. Most of the time, it’s easier for cars to go up hills when they’re in a lower gear.
Or, you can use the downshifters to lower your gears while going downhill. This gives you a little bit of engine braking power. You won’t be able to go too fast. You’ll also keep your brake pads in good shape.
You can also use them when you’re pulling something behind you. Depending on the terrain, you may need to change the gears while towing.
If your RPMs are too low, you should shift down. This should increase your RPMs and keep you in the right range.
Most cars have a certain RPM range where they make the most power. Most of the time, that’s between 2,000 and 3,000 RPMs.
Keeping your RPMs low can also help your car get better gas mileage. If you want to slow down, try shifting up. If you keep your RPMs too low, your engine might have to work too hard.
Unfortunately, that would cause a lot of wear and tear.
How to Use Paddle Shifters
It’s pretty simple to use paddle shifters. To make them work, you just have to pull on them. When you pull on the left side, your car will shift down a gear. If you pull on the right side, it will move up a gear.
By shifting down, you lower your gear. And if you shift down, you’ll notice that the RPMs go up.
Also, going uphill makes it easier to pick up speed. You can also use engine braking by keeping your car in a lower gear.
Your car will slow down without you having to use the brakes. You can use this to keep your brake pads in good shape. As you go downhill, you should shift down. You won’t have to touch the brakes at all to stop going as fast.
When you shift up, you move up a gear. Most of the time, it will also slow down your RPMs. Low RPMs also use less gas.
So, you can change how much fuel you use by moving the shifters.
When your RPMs go over 3,000, you should shift up. That should keep you in the right range for making electricity.
Try the following if you’ve never used paddle shifters before. Start with a full stop. You should be in first gear at that point.
Then, put a light touch on the gas pedal. The engine will start to purr, and your RPMs will start to go up. Watch the RPMs until they reach more than 3,000. That doesn’t take long at all in 1st gear.
Pull on the right shifter once the RPMs reach 3,000. That will get you into the second gear. Now, you’ll do the same thing over and over again until you reach cruising speed.
Watch the RPMs until they get back to 3,000. Then, pull one more time on the right shifter. At this point, you’ll be in the third gear. Most cars today have 5 or 6 gears. Every time you reach 3,000 RPMs, keep shifting up.
When you reach your highest gear, you won’t be able to change it any more.
The same steps are used to go slower. Lightly press the brakes and keep an eye on the RPMs. Don’t shift down when the RPMs reach 3,000, though.
You shouldn’t shift down until you’re going about 2,000 RPMs. Pull on the left shifter once you’ve done that.
If you’re in 6th gear, you’ll move down to 5th gear. When this happens, you’ll notice that the RPMs go up. Keep pushing down on the brake pedal. Then, when the RPMs go back down to 2,000, pull the left shifter.
You will shift down from 5th gear to 4th gear. Keep doing this until you get all the way to first gear. You should be almost done at this point. You can now let the RPMs drop below 2,000.
Most of the time, your car will idle between 800 and 1,000 RPMs. That means they won’t go any lower.
By keeping the RPMs low, you can also make more power. So, you can slow down before going up a hill. When you start going up, that will make the car feel a little more responsive.
When your RPMs are high, your engine slows you down. This is called braking with the engine. A lot of truckers use it while driving big rigs. But you can also use the same ideas in your car.
How Paddle Shifters Make Driving Better
If you’ve ever driven a car with a stick shift, you know what it’s like. You have a little more control over how you drive. Most new cars, on the other hand, don’t have a manual transmission.
Even with an automatic, you can still have the same kind of ride. If they have paddle shifters, you can use them to control how the car moves. The left one makes the gear go down. The person on the right raises it.
If you move the gears down, the RPMs will go up. If you raise the gears, they will go down. You can control how much power the engine makes by changing the RPMs.
It can give you more power in some places. You can also use it to control your speed without having to stop.