How to Use a Paddle Shifter? Easy Step-by-Step Tutorial

Are you excited to know how to use a paddle shifter while driving your own car? Let’s explore what it is, how it actually works and how you can use it while you are on the streets.

Only the drivers can understand the vitality of the paddle shift while driving. The term refers to mounted controls that are visible on the steering and utilized to change the gears. 

The driver can easily notice the paddle shifter.  It is displayed in the form of up and down shifts and rests on the steering. So, as soon as an individual grasps the steering, he can feel the paddle shifter. 

Paddle shifts are either electronically controlled gearboxes for manual operation or have automatic controls, which allow the driver to execute the shifts more rapidly than an individual does while changing the gears using gearbox and clutch. 

What is Paddle Shifter


Many new drivers wonder: what are paddle shifters? Nowadays, fewer and fewer customers are buying vehicles with manual transmissions. For that reason, many cars give their owners the chance to shift their own gears. 

This is amazingly useful for many car owners. So is it possible for automatic transmission? The answer is yes: Car owners can use the paddle shifter that is attached to the steering wheel’s back. 

In most cars, the left paddle downshifts, while the right paddle can be used to upshift. In some other automobiles, drivers can shift up and down on both sides.

History of Paddle Shifter

During the late 1980s, paddle shifters, also called flappy paddles, were first created. Auto manufacturers want to create it as the controls for semi-automatic gearboxes in race cars like Ferrari Formula One types. 

This style of shifting became very popular in the 1990s. You can see it in almost every high-performance supercars to mainstream cars. Today, this technology can be found on every vehicle, from compact hatchbacks to luxury SUVs. 

The designers want to place the paddle shifters on the steering column or on the back of the steering wheel. 

This means that the drivers do not need to take their hands off the wheels to shift. The creation of paddle shifters made it easier for car owners. 

Not only can drivers maintain control at high speeds, they can focus and place both hands on the wheel in demanding cases.

history of paddle shifter
The creation of paddle shifters made it easier for car owners. (Photo: Autolist)

How Does A Paddle Shifter Work?

The next famous question of new car owners is how do paddle shifters work? Paddle shifters let car owners shift the automatic transmission of their automobiles. 

Unlike the traditional clutch pedal and gear-shift level on the manual transmission, vehicle owners can just simply pull on the paddle to manually change gears. 

With automatic transmission vehicles, the paddle shifter will be fully automatic, which means they will shift on their own if drivers leave the paddles alone. 

Type of Transmissions Use Paddle Shifters

There are three main types of transmissions that work well with paddle shifters: Manuals, automated manuals, and automatics. So what is the difference between these transmissions, let’s continue reading: 


Manual transmissions using paddle shifters are actually quite rare. They usually can be found only on race cars, since they still have a clutch pedal. 

However, instead of a manually H-pattern or sequential gear lever, the designers still installed the paddle shifters into the steering wheel. For that reason, these vehicles only need the clutch pressed to start off or when coming to a halt. 

Automated Manual

For extra information, automated-manuals are actually manual transmissions that are semi-automated. Due to the hybrid factor, this type of transmission has the paddle shifter installed as well. 


Last but certainly not least, both traditional automatics and continuously variable transmissions (CVTS) types of cars use paddle shifters. With nowadays technology, we can see automatic with paddle shifters everywhere. 

The paddle shifters help drivers control the car much easier. Along with this useful car component, automatic transmission vehicles also have specific ECU programming with the purpose of ensuring car owners protect the transmission from abusive or aggressive shifting.

How to Use a Paddle Shifter – The Actual Process

So, it starts with the pulling back of the hinged paddle. This leads to a sending a signal to the transmission controller thereafter, which further activates solenoids for changing the gears. 

In some vehicles, it is possible to evade the use of the clutch. And, that becomes possible only when the engine power is electronically reduced. 

So, now the pressure on the gearbox will be minimized, as the functionality of the paddle shifter increases.

 Advise for how to use a paddle shifter
Tutorial for how to use a paddle shifter (Photo Source: BMW)


Then the question arises why most of the automatic cars have a manual mode? What is the actual need for manual shifting? 

Well, the manual shifting gives you the chance to change the gears as and when required rather than depending on the gearbox to do so. The function of the clutch here is nil as now there remains no mechanical link between the paddle shifters and the gear lever.

The question, ‘How to use a Paddle shifter’ seems to look simplified when you start doing it actually. Sometimes, there may occur situations when the manual transmission won’t go into gear, this is the time when you can really try paddle shifting

The process is quite simple! When using a paddle shifter, you can simply pull the right shifter or the left shifter, as per your requirements.

You can simply differentiate the shifter with the help of signs, where the right shifter is indicated by a (+) sign, left shifter, on the other hand, will be marked as a (-) sign. So, as soon as you press any of these shifters, an indicator will flash on the dashboard the gear that your vehicle is running on.

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Is it Easy to Shift Gears Using the Paddle Shifters? 

One can easily shift gears while driving using the paddle shifters. And, when the full power of the shifters is to be set up, pull the shifter up to the redline to enjoy the full functionality of the same. 

1500 to 2500 RPMs- This is the range of shifting gears when you are using the paddle shifters. Drivers must not expect the immediate change in the gears when using paddle shifters. 

The timings will almost be the same as that of the process, where gearbox and clutch are used. 

Also, it depends on the maintenance of the car, the proper functioning of the paddle shifters and even the gearbox and the clutch. So, drivers need to check at proper intervals.

Check out the video below to see How to Paddle Shift – Easy Step by Step Tutorial!

The Final Words

So, next time you sit in your car, don’t forget to take a look at the paddle shifters pointed right there near your steering. And, next time when this question hits your mind – how to use a paddle shifter, don’t miss to read the process here.