The ABC of using paddle shifters. All you need to know!


Posted by: Joshua-Philip Okeafor

Share this post:

Latest news articles

All you need to know about paddle shifters; the exciting innovation that allows you to use an automatic car like a manual vehicle! See it all!

Introducing paddle shifters

Paddle shifters in cars are perhaps the most exciting modern innovation in vehicles today. They don’t just look cool but also, these days, they represent another way for the engine power to be controlled in an automatic or properly, a semi-auto car with automatic clutch.

The Paddle shifter system is a very important component in the semi-auto vehicle control system and the paddle shifter switch is found just at the back of the steering wheel or on the steering column. What about paddle shifters makes driving fun? Well, this article tells you the ABC of using paddle shifters.


Paddle Shifters are like a magic wand, turning auto cars to manual

How does a paddle shifter work?

How do paddle shifters work? Simply, a paddle shifter helps you shift to manual transmission in an automatic car. A paddle shifter works well with vehicles already using the semi-automatic transmission (SAT) also called automated manual transmission (AMT), or Clutchless Manual Transmission (CMT). The said paddle shifter transmissions are funny little inventions that lie at the middle road between an automatic and manual transmission respectively.

In a semi-automatic transmission vehicle, gearshifts are not feasible unlike vehicles with automatic transmission.

In a semi-auto car also, two pedals are present with no clutch pedal. The question then pops up: How do you change gears without making use of the dry clutch then? With the presence of a set of paddle shifts, you are good to go.


Paddle shifters come in different shapes and styles, like this

What then are the advantages of Paddle shifters?

Why do automatic cars need paddle shifters? What makes someone think about buying a car with paddle shifters or the driving forces of paddle shifters are fun, performance, and control. Automatic transmissions have been notably responsive but a lot of people would love the added advantage of manual shifting when they desire it.

When you shift gears manually, it also has its advantage especially on a slippery descent in bad weather. When you shift to a lower gear, it makes the engine speed to slow the car down better than making use of the brakes which could lead to a car skidding. In a nutshell, the main advantages are:

  • It gives a better overall performance of your car when compared to those with automatic transmissions in particular. An automatic car makes gear shifts when needed by monitoring revs and the demand on the engine of the vehicle. It is not originally designed to keep performance in mind while changing gears which is what makes most race cars have manual transmissions.

When you use paddle shifters, you gain control of your gearshifts once again even though you are driving an automatic. In other words, you can decide to ride the revs as well as change the overdrive gears to enhance the car’s performance.   

  • As cars get smarter by the day, no car has the intelligence to match external weather conditions and adapting gearshifts at the same time. For example, if rain begins to pour when you are on a drive, the car does not have the intelligence to rapidly shift according to weather conditions.

With paddle shifters, you can adapt your personal driving style, which includes gearshift, while paying attention to the weather conditions as you wish. During rainy situations, you can control your gearshifts using the paddle shifters to shift down as well as lower vehicle speed without having to depend on the brakes. This captivatingly prevents skids as well as powered slides on roads that are wet.  It also helps the engine to control the weight better. Some people think downshifting damages the transmission but it was designed to function this way and the computer would definitely not allow redline to happen to the vehicle.

  • Paddle shifter upshift has been made very easy. Some paddle shifters make it possible to begin on the second gear instead of the first; the amount of torque sent to the drive wheels of the vehicle will be reduced at this point. This prevents wheel spin and helps us maintain good traction under mud or snow.



Automatic transmission to manual? Paddle shifters will do the magic

Let’s explore the world of using a paddle shifter

The paddle shifter use is very simple. Paddle shifters are marked with a plus and minus sign used for going up or down one gear at a time, incrementally. The paddle found on the left is conceived to move gears down while the paddle on the right does the exact opposite (moving gears up) with squeezing the paddle shift with your fingers.

The setup layout of the paddles in paddle shifter cars also has an effect on how to use a paddle shifter; (i.e. down and the left together and up and right together). There are some reserved setups so drivers need to check the car equipped with a paddle shifter very well before driving it.  When upshift or downshift is done by you pulling the levers, the transmission holds on to your chosen gear just for a few seconds before reverting to automatic.

For you to cancel this operation, you have to maintain pressure on one of those paddles for a while longer. When you should use these paddle shifters is also difficult to determine, unless you read and understand the paddle shifter car you are trying to drive very well.  The best time to shift gears is based on a wide range of factors ranging from road conditions, weather, as well as traffic density.

It is important to know, however, that using gear paddles with semi-automatic transmission systems is very wonderful and fun-filled. Another thing is that during paddle shifter use, in your early stages, there is a general rule of thumb that you can master and use. In this case, you need to shift when your rev counter needle falls between 1500 and 2500 RPM.

The revs look very wide and broad but it is designed that, if you stay within this range, you will not be doing any harm to your engine. As time goes on, you will find a way to fine-tune your shifts. Learning the timing of gearshifts with the use of paddle shifts is very fun to experience.


This extended paddle shifters make it a bit easier to engage

How do you install paddle shifters?

You might need a professional to help in paddle shifter installation or in some cases, the instructions to follow are very clear and in steps that you can read and apply. Other times too, you might need the help of a mechanic who is more experienced.  This helps you avoid common paddle shifter problems. When it comes to the worst, seek help on YouTube by typing the model or maker of the paddle shift, and follow the videos. You can also keep tabs on relevant articles here on We have different groupings of paddle shifter extension installation depending on how they look. We have:

  • Paddle shifters with double-sided adhesive
  • Paddle shifters with grub screws
  • Full replacement paddle shifters

How to use Paddle Shifters! SIMPLE and EASY!


So, the kind of paddle shifter you buy determines the paddle shifter install procedure to apply. With the ABC of using paddle shifters above giving you the essential points in paddle shifting, we hope you would be able to make a correct choice on the paddle-shifting as the best for you.

>>> Enjoyed this? Get more exciting tips here

>>> You can get fun car reviews on every time

Joshua-Philip Okeafor

Joshua-Philip Okeafor

Car buying & selling

Joshua, or KK as friends call him, is a Filmmaker, Writer and Director. A Christian, Joshua is a product of Nigeria’s foremost film school, the National Film Institute, Jos, where he majored in Writing/Directing. Joshua began his writing career at age 18 when an older brother gave him a four page outline of a children novel. Joshua intends to keep writing and directing. His screen name is sometimes Joshua Kalu Ephraim (Writing), and sometimes Joshua KK (directing).

See more