Women Drivers Blog

How to Optimize Paddle Shifters

February 21, 2017 / 

Paddle shifters are becoming increasingly popular. The rising popularity of this feature is owed to the control and power it offers car drivers. This semi-automatic transmission feature allows drivers to shift gears manually, which is often missed by automatic and savvy car drivers.

Paddle shifters were developed originally for racing and performance vehicles. However, now this feature is becoming more and more prominent in everyday cars. It not only simulates manual gear selection, but also extracts more power from the engine.

A car featuring this semi-automatic transmission typically has two paddles located behind the steering wheel. One paddle is deployed to the right of the steering wheel and the other to the left. The right is marked (+) positive, for shifting up in gear while the left paddle is marked (-) negative for shifting down.

Downshifting with the paddle shifter increases the engine braking power. This is needed when going down steep and long hills and gives more power when climbing up hills. On the other hand, up-shifting the transmission manually helps to reduce the RPM (Revolution Per Minute).

Paddle shifters make gear changing smooth, convenient and fast. You don’t have to take your hands off the wheel to shift gears, but it does add the excitement and the continuous surge of acceleration that manual and sports car drivers enjoy. Further, these shifters are linked to a semi-automatic gearbox. This box has the normal automatic gearbox modes P (Park), N (Neutral), D (Drive), R (Reverse) and an extra mode ‘S’ for sequential mode.

Paddle shift transmission systems can be divided into three types, torque converter, DSG and electro hydraulic gearbox. Which does your car have?

  • Torque Converter Gearbox: Torque converter gearbox features an onboard computer in the car, which can be programmed and made to change gears as demanded by you, the driver.
  • DSG Gearbox: DSG also known as a Dual Shift Gearbox which features two clutches. One is used to engage all odd-number gears like 1, 3 and 5 while the second clutch is used for even-number gears. When a paddle is released by the driver to change gears, one clutch engages the next gear and the other disengages the previous gear making gear change quick and seamless.
  • Electro Hydraulic Gearbox: The Electro Hydraulic gearbox paddle shift transmission is mostly used in racing cars (like Formula 1). This gearbox is expensive and lighter than the DSG paddle shift transmission.