Gears & Steering
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Having mastered moving off and being able to steer in a straight line, you now need to learn how to change gear in order to make progress as you drive along. During this lesson you will learn how to make the car go faster, or slower, by using the gears.
Gears can be changed up, to a higher gear,or down to a lower gear. The basic rule is that you change up through the gears as the speed of the car increases and down when you need more power from the engine. For example, you would change down when climbing a hill or pulling away at low speed. You could even change down in order to provide a boost in power when overtaking. Changing down also increases the effect of engine braking.
As your speed increases it is important to change up when required. This means that the engine will use less fuel as it is having to work less to maintain the generated speed. For example, if the engine requires 2000rpm to do 30mph in 3rd gear, it may only require 1500rpm in 4th gear to do the same speed.
The basic gear changing rule is ‘gears to go - brakes to slow'. As the car increases speed, change up through the gears. When you want to slow down, use the foot brake, and engine braking, as required in relation to the gradient of the road. You need only change to a lower gear when you need the accelerator again to 'drive' the car along. This means that you may sometimes miss out gears, for example, by changing from fourth gear to second gear. This method is called ‘selective’ or ‘block’ gear changing.
There are also times when you might selectively change up, having used a lower gear for better acceleration or more pulling power followed by a change to fourth or fifth gear when you have reached your intended cruising speed. This is good use of the gears as you spend less time and fuel accelerating. As a general rule you should only miss out one gear when block changing.
Palming is a style of gear changing that uses your palm to guide the gear lever in the direction required. This requires that your hand is usually to the side of the lever rather than on top gripping it with your fingers. This style of gear selection helps reduce the risk of selecting the wrong gear.
Link To Gears
While it is relatively easy to make slight steering adjustments, many manoeuvres require you to turn the car sharply to either the left or to the right. To do this effectively you will need to learn the “push / pull” method of steering.
As with all control skills, it is vital that this becomes second nature to you. This is why a whole lesson is often dedicated to this most important skill. You will learn how to keep your car on course and use the push / pull method of steering to turn corners with various turning exercises, including performing figure-of-eight circuits and steering within restricted markings.
Push / Pull method of steering
This method ensures that you keep both hands in contact with the wheel at all times and that the wheel is never allowed to spin out of control. Once the wheels are fully turned left or right this is known as full lock.
Place right hand at 12 o'clock on the steering wheel. Grip and pull down with the right hand, while sliding the left hand down, to the lower half of the steering wheel. Swap grip to the left hand and push up with the left hand, while sliding the right hand back up, to the upper half of the steering wheel.Swap as required to achieve turn.
Place left hand at 12 o'clock on the steering wheel. Grip and pull down with the left hand, while sliding the right hand down, to the lower half of the steering wheel. Swap grip to the right hand and push up with the right hand, while sliding the left hand back up, to the upper half of the steering wheel.Swap as required to achieve turn.
Look Where You Are Going!
What is probably the most important rule about steering may not seem obvious. It is that you not only steer with your hands, but also with your eyes! You do this by looking a good distance ahead to where you want to go. This tells your brain what to do with your hands. Your peripheral vision (i.e. your vision to each side) helps you to keep your road position.
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