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How Paddle Shifters Work

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how paddle shifters work

Paddle shifters otherwise known as steering wheel shifters or steering wheel paddle shifters are levers which are located on the steering wheel of a vehicle. these levers are both on the left hand side and on the right hand side of the steering wheel.

paddle shifters have always been in existence as far back as 1912, but they didn’t have so much popularity at the time until the 1970s, when there were racing activities and subsequently later with more success in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

By 1994, paddle shifters were pretty much the only game in town when it comes to Formula One.

This is because formula one is not just any kind of racing, it’s not a rally, it’s not a drag race etc. it requires a lot of speed and consistency which goes on for hours and these guys hit top speeds of as much as 372.5 km/h (231.4 mph).

These type of speed and driving requires split second decisions, quick gear transmission and quick shifting which the regular automatic or manual transmissions won’t give you hence the paddle shifters which. transmissions in formula one would even be worse with a regular manual because of the presence of the clutch.

Now in today’s world paddle shifters have become very common and can even be sighted in your everyday vehicle. some examples of these vehicles are:

Mercedes-Benz E350
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
BMW Competition series
and a host of many other vehicles with the paddle shifter feature.

we also have vehicles which I’ll like to call performance vehicles which might be a super car or a hypercar, the vehicles almost always comes with this feature. examples of these car is

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
Porsche 911 turbo
McLaren P1
Lotus Exige
and a host of many other performance vehicles.

One thing worthy of note is that these cars might be your regular vehicle but majority of them with this feature comes with a sport package or it’s equivalent hence the shifters.

it’s also pertinent to note that the shifters can be found on either the automatic or the manual transmissions.

Now, How Do They Work ?

With a brief history of paddle shifters and what they actually are it’s also important to know how they work.

The very first time I drove a car with paddle shifters I avoided them because I didn’t know what they were and what they could do, I was scared and confused about what might happen if I touch them. But at the end of this article you would learn when and how to confidently use those paddle shifters in your car.

In simple terms, paddle shifters just help you change the gears in your car, period !!!
easy right ? I’ll tell you more.

Basically, they are paddles that let you shift sequentially through the gears. Shifting up is typically done through the right paddle, and down through the left paddle. No clutch is required in this process even though the vehicle were a manual transmission.

A person can gear up using his paddle shifters if his car is taking time to change to a higher gear and for this, he pulls back the lever on the right hand side of the steering wheel. and if he’s trying to gear down which also works to slow down the vehicle without hitting the brakes then he pulls back the lever on the left hand side of the steering wheel.

this shifters are also easy to use because of the inscriptions on them.
there the minus(-) sign on the left hand side for gearing down, and a plus (+) sign on the right hand side for gearing up.

Advantages Of Paddle Shifters

I believe that paddle shifters gives you a wonderful driving experience, gives you the feel of being in the driving process and not just throttling away.

Paddle shifters can help you keep your vehicle in a particular gear and not exceeding it.

Paddle shifters helps you slow your car down from high speeds when you pull back the lever on the car

paddle shifter

Another advantage of paddle shifters is that it makes it easier to physically shift gears thereby expunging the need for a clutch.

Any vehicle with paddle shifters is capable of shifting itself no matter the kind of transmission it is.

Another advantage of paddle shifters is that wrong or improper usage does not exactly pose a treat to the transmission, engine or gearbox and this is because there is a software put in place to prevent such damage.

A lot of drivers these days drive with just one hand on the steering wheel, and sometimes it’s responsible for bad maneuvers, oversteering, understeering. But a person who is actively driving with paddle shifters must always have his two hands on the steering wheel which enhances and encourages a good driving culture.

just like the F1 cars where it all originated from, I bet you’ve never seen an F1 driver driving with just one hand.

Disadvantages Of Paddle Shifters

It is said that everything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage.
this might be true but maybe with some exceptions. but let’s look at some of the disadvantages of paddle shifters.

Paddle shifters makes some person’s to drive their vehicle more aggressively, shifting gears faster instead of allowing the vehicle it select the most appropriate gears for you. this can lead to crashes if not controlled properly.

some people complain that their vehicles acceleration and RPM drops once they use their paddle shifter to gear up there by slowing you down instead of moving faster.

sometimes your vehicle can double shift even when you flick it once and this might be a malfunction which generally affects your driving experience.

again constant use of a thing can cause wear or tear and paddle shifters are no exception. paddle shifters can get stuck when used roughly, it might refuse to get back to it normal position after getting pulled and this is not a good thing for the vehicle and even the driver.

Paddle shifters can also lead to greater fuel consumption by extension.

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