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There are two methods of knowing when to shift gears. One uses your eyes while the other uses your ears.

Using the Tachometer


The tachometer can be used as a guide to changing gears. For fuel economy the magic number is 2,000 rpm and for power the number is 3,000 rpm. When accelerating your rpm will increase. Changing gears lowers the speed of the engine so after upshifting the tachometer will indicate a decrease in rpm until you shift to the highest possible gear.

Some people use the speedometer to make gear shifts. The logic being that you change to third gear around 30mph, fourth gear around 40mph and so forth. However, a quick evaluation of the tachometer will tell you that the speed is not always an accurate indicator for changing gears.

Listening To Your Engine


Your engine is talking to you and with practice you can understand what it is saying. Unless there is something wrong with you car your engine is telling you when to shift gears. Even in an automatic car you have probably heard the engine rev as you accelerate and then subside. This is your car automatically changing gears for you. After lots of time and practice you will be able to hear the rev and know to change gears without looking at your tachometer. If you do not change gears the rev will intensify. I recomend driving without the radio on for the first month so you can hear your engine.

Your engine can also tell you when you have shifted into the wrong gear. Instead of lowering the sound of the rev, the car will make a grinding sound.