How to Drive a Semi-Automatic

by Alexander Poirier

Many car owners are torn between the speed and control allowed by a manual transmission and the ease of use presented by an automatic transmission. Luckily, there is something that satisfies both wants. Semi-automatic transmissions give car owners the best of both worlds through the use of a paddle shifter; the paddle shifter allows the driver to change the vehicle's gears without having to master the complicated process of using the vehicle's clutch. If you want to drive a semi-automatic car, you can do so in a few simple steps.

Step 1

Press your foot on the brake, insert the key into the vehicle's ignition and pull both paddle shifters back toward you to place the car in neutral. With your foot still on the brake, start the vehicle's engine.

Step 2

Disengage the vehicle's parking brake and pull back on the right paddle (the "+" paddle) to place the vehicle into first gear.

Step 3

Let your foot off the brake pedal and apply pressure to the gas pedal to accelerate. Pull back on the right paddle to shift up through the gears and pull back on the left paddle (the "-" paddle) to shift down. A general rule for gear shifting is to upshift when the engine reaches around 3,000 RPM or when the engine sounds like it is working too hard and to downshift when decelerating. You do not need to let off the gas to upshift, but you should let off the gas a bit for each downshift.

Step 4

Press the reverse button (usually designated by the letter "R") with your foot on the brake and car in neutral to place the vehicle into reverse. To return to neutral, pull both shift paddles back toward you.

Step 5

Apply pressure to the vehicle's brake pedal and downshift all the way down to first gear to slow and stop the vehicle (or simply slow the vehicle to a stop if in reverse). With the vehicle stopped and your foot on the brake, pull both shift paddles toward you to put the vehicle into neutral. With the vehicle in neutral, apply the parking brake and turn off the vehicle's engine.

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