Block Gear Changing | Learn to drive: Car Control skills


Block, or selective gear changing is a modern
technique that can save time when changing speed in a car with a manual gearbox. In the
past, drivers were taught to change down gears sequentially as they slowed their car down
– primarily to avoid overheating their brakes. Now that modern cars have much better braking
systems we don’t need to do this, and can miss out gears at the appropriate time. This
gives us more time to concentrate on the road ahead, and to keep our hands on the steering
wheel for longer. In this video we will show how to block change gears, and where it can
be useful. Imagine we are driving at 40mph in 4th gear,
and need to slow down to 20mph as we approach a roundabout. We could change from 4th to
3rd, and then into 2nd. Or we could block change directly from 4th gear into 2nd gear,
and miss out 3rd gear altogether, as it is not useful to us. Reducing unnecessary gear
changes like this saves the driver time, and can even reduce wear on the clutch and gearbox.
As a general rule we should use the brakes to reduce our speed, before changing down
to the most suitable gear for the lower speed. Block changing is most useful when we are
slowing down quickly, as we might not have enough time to change through every gear sequentially.
Braking from 70mph to 20mph when leaving a dual carriageway is a good example, and in
this situation it is much easier to change from 5th to 2nd gear, than change from 5th
to 4th to 3rd and finally to 2nd gear. Notice how we let the engine revs reduce to almost
idle speed before changing gear, and how we keep braking lightly during the gear change.
To help 2nd gear engage smoothly, we wait until the car has reached 20mph before lifting
the clutch pedal up. Here we are cruising in 5th towards a 30mph
limit. The easiest way to handle this is to brake the car down to 30mph, before directly
selecting 3rd gear. The engine is flexible enough that there is no problem staying in
5th as we slow down. There would be no benefit in selecting 4th gear, so we miss it out and
use 3rd instead. This time we are driving at about 40mph in
4th gear towards a T-junction where we would like to turn right into the minor road. We
anticipate we will need 2nd gear for the junction, so we brake the car down to 20mph, before
selecting 2nd directly. Selecting 3rd gear would serve no purpose, so we miss it out. When leaving a dual carriageway we will often
have a reasonably short distance to change our speed before we approach the next junction
– so if we can save a gear change or two that would be beneficial. Our car has 6 gears,
but changing from 6th to 2nd can be difficult, so we prefer to do 2 block changes – from
6th to 4th, and then 4th to 2nd. Using 4th in this way allows smoother gear changes,
as it is easier to miss out 1 gear at a time, than 3 in one go. To achieve a smooth gear change we will need
to ensure the car is at the correct speed for the selected gear, as this will mean the
speed of the engine will match the speed of the wheels. To do this we must understand
the speed that best matches each gear – and this will vary from car to car depending on
the set gearbox ratios. Our car has a diesel engine, and the gearbox has fairly long gear
ratios for good economy – but if you are driving a petrol engined car then your gear ratios
will probably be much shorter. You might need to experiment until you learn what speed suits
each gear best. It might also be necessary to keep a light pressure on the footbrake
while changing down to the lower gear. Lifting the clutch up a little slower than normal
will also allow the gear to engage more slowly, which can help stop any annoying jerks. Another
technique that experienced drivers use is called ‘rev-matching’, but since we have
covered this in another video we have stuck to normal gear changes this time. Block gear changing is just another option
for us to use when changing gear, and it can be used on the driving test if we choose to.
If we are slowing down gently, since we have plenty of time we might select every gear
sequentially. However, when slowing down quickly we would usually block change the gears as
it saves time and effort. The examiner will not mind which way we choose to change gear,
and there won’t be any faults given if we do or don’t block change. However, if the
examiner feels that a poor use of gears has affected our ability to drive safely, then
there could be a fault given for ‘control – use of gears’. It is also possible to block change up the
gearbox, and miss out gears as we speed up. This is a far less common situation, and it
does involve revving the engine up to a much higher speed than normal, so would use a lot
more fuel than accelerating through each gear sequentially. Using every gear when accelerating
keeps the engine at the most efficient speed and gives a good balance of power and economy.
However it sometimes make sense to block change up if we need to accelerate hard before cruising
– such as when joining a dual carriageway. Once we spot a safe gap to join the traffic
flow we accelerate quickly in 3rd gear up to about 60mph before selecting 5th gear.
Because we have driven much faster in 3rd gear than normal, there was little point in
using 4th gear, so we block changed directly into 5th gear. Just remember to;
Look ahead and plan how to change speed Slow the car down with the brakes
Select the best gear for the new speed, and Engage the clutch gently for a smooth gear
change If you found this video interesting then please
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Reader Comments

  1. Advance Driving School

    Thanks for watching – if you found this video interesting then please subscribe to our channel and click the bell to be notified of our next video! This video includes;
    * 0:06 Introduction
    * 1:04 What is block changing
    * 1:44 When is block changing useful?
    * 2:40 Block changing examples
    * 4:55 Block changing smoothly
    * 6:16 Block changing on the driving test
    * 7:05 Block changing when speeding up
    * 8:10 Summary

  2. Lolani Fenring

    Is it bad practice to continue braking while letting the clutch pedal up, or do we have to be off the brake before we let the clutch up? I've practised going from 5th to 2nd, but it's tricky because u have to slow down quite a bit (to avoid that jerk u get), and I feel as though the car will stall before it reaches the new slower speed, so I coast for a couple of seconds while still gently braking. U also have to be good at judging when you've reached the new slower speed.

    And, why are some parts of the world, like the UK and the rest of Europe, and Japan, mostly manuals, whereas in the US the majority of the cars there are automatics? I used to think it was a rich nation / poor nation thing ie rich nations drove automatics and poor ones drove manual, but that can't be the reason, cos France, Germany, England, Spain, etc are categorically not poor countries, and neither is Japan!

  3. Abubakari Mahyoro

    I really had a doubt if I can block change gears during upshifting but now you have cleared it.. thanks for this informative video

  4. Sarah Callaghan

    Another good video you two. Are brilliant I say it alot but you are .I'm still doing good driving still watching videos .thank you both of you for videos .

  5. Rick McFish

    Some advanced driving circles advocate separation of the braking phase and gear phase, thus freeing the right foot to match engine revs to the lower gear. Is this something you advocate/recommend, or is it more "old hat" stuff?

  6. David Lyimo

    Why does the gear lever feel harder in changing gears when block gear changing down as opposed to changing gears sequentially? My foot is fully pressed on the clutch but still every time I block gear change I feel there's a bit of resistance when changing gears as opposed to when I do it in sequence, could it be the clutch is starting to wear out or is it supposed to feel like that? The car i use is still fairly new- about four years old… So I doubt any normal wear and tear could be the cause, plus I've driven other cars and they all feel like that. Is it just me? πŸ˜…

  7. Go2 Driving School

    Hi Advance, good work with your channel and recent uploads, you're doing really well!. Some good advice here. I've been following yours and other driving school channels for a while and just thought I'd reach out and say Hi and thanks for the videos!

  8. Matthew Mc Veigh

    My biggest worry is getting enough speed when pulling out of the roundabout. I'm always being told I'm going too slow but when I try and put more speed and be quicker I even up stalling. Is there a way to stop this or is it okay to pull out a bit slow? Also I'm doing my test in a week so want to get this right before then, is it okay to be safer in the test and stop if I'm more comfortable or will I be marked down on progression?

  9. Christopher Richards

    Hi ADS I am Just Wondering how they change gears without making a mistake and is it very easy to stall a car with a Automatic and Manuel and what happens when you stall a automatic

  10. Craig Tampin

    I wouldnt say its a major problem for me. But when im breaking i tend to engage clutch for speed i need but after lifting clutch i also lift the brake. When watching your videos you apply brake, changing with clutch, bring up slowly whilst still applying break slightly. Does this make a difference, i just think with muscle memory im used to it.

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