Informational Guide

How To Use Paddle Shifters

Paddle shifters are very popular in today’s vehicles. In this guide, we show you how to use & activate them.

Paddle shifters are becoming more popular in today’s vehicles, leaving many people wondering how to use paddle shifters. In this guide, we will show you how to control your vehicle better by teaching you how to drive with paddle shifters. Whether you are new to using paddle shifters or you want to know how to use paddle shifters on a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

What are paddle shifters? Depending on what type of transmission your car has, paddle shifters might help you gain more control. This mechanism is typically built into the steering wheel back or on the steering column.

What do paddle shifters do? With the right paddle, you can upshift, while the left paddle makes it simple to downshift. However, some models have an actual stick to pull up on or push down on for shifting.

Paddle shifters have been around since 1901 when Amedé Bollée created them. However, the design has gone a long way since its first arrival. Do paddle shifters have a clutch? Not with automatic transmissions; there’s no reason to have a clutch with paddle shifters.

How To Use Paddle Shifters

Transmission Types That Can Use Paddle Shifters

Can using paddle shifters ruin a transmission? No, because there are electronic safeguards in place to protect the transmission. Here are some ways the paddle shifters work with various transmission types

Automatic Transmissions

Can you put paddle shifters on an automatic car? Yes, both the CVT and automatic transmission are good candidates for paddle shifters. You can easily learn how to use CVT paddle shifters to gain more control over the vehicle.

Manual Transmissions

Can a manual car have paddle shifters? Typically, you only find paddle shifters with race cars that have a manual transmission. There is still a clutch pedal, but the typical H-pattern doesn’t need to be followed.

Automated-Manual Transmissions

The automated manual is semi-automated, just like the Lamborghini Aventador. Instead of using a clutch to shift, you use the paddle shifters instead. Sometimes, this system can feel violent and jerky.

What Is The Point Of Paddle Shifters? Advantages Discussed

  • Control 
    With paddle shifters and an automatic transmission, you gain more control over the performance. Instead of letting the system tell the transmission when to shift, you get to determine what’s best.
  • Downshifting 
    If you need to slow down quickly, you can downshift with paddle shifters to provide quicker deceleration. This is also helpful if you are about to take a tight corner or need to maneuver fast.
  • Going Downhill 
    If you start heading downhill while towing or in bad weather, you can use the paddle shifters to downshift and gain more control over the vehicle.
  • Upshifting 
    If you can start off in second gear instead of first, you reduce how much torque is sent to the drive wheels, preventing slippage in wet conditions.

How To Use Paddle Shifters: Step By Step Activation & Driving Guide

Now that we’ve answered the big question - what are paddle shifters used for, it’s time to learn how to operate them for more control. We will look closer at how to drive using paddle shifters. In this section, we will divide how to shift with paddle shifters in automatic and manual transmission vehicles.

1. Manual Transmission Paddle Shifters

If you are lucky enough to drive a race car with paddle shifters, you will follow these steps.

  1. 1
    Depress the clutch pedal.
  2. 2
    Select the gear you want with the paddles.
  3. 3
    Give the vehicle some gas while releasing the clutch.

You can also figure out how to activate paddle shifters without using the clutch once you get started. If you want to stop or learn how to downshift with paddle shifters, simply put it in the gear you want until you reach Neutral or 1st gear, where you will need the clutch once again.

2. Automatic Transmission Paddle Shifters

Driving an automatic vehicle with paddle shifters is simple to do. Clearly, there are a lot of differences between the paddle shifter vs. manual transmission, but the paddle shifters can offer an automatic car more control. Let’s answer - how do paddle shifters work?

  1. 1
    Put your vehicle into Drive.
  2. 2
    Use the M slot for manual.
  3. 3
    Use the paddles on the steering wheel or steering column to shift gears as needed.

You can remove the ability to paddle shift at any time and revert back to driving with the standard automatic transmission.

How To Drive Using Paddle Shifters

Activating Paddle Shifters On Different Car Brands


If you want to know how to use paddle shifters on an Acura RDX or how to use paddle shifters on Acura vehicles in general, remember that the right paddle shifts up and the left goes down.

Honda Accord Sport

To figure out how to use paddle shifters on Honda Accord Sport models, just reach behind the steering wheel for the controls.

Mini Cooper

Figuring out how to use Mini Cooper paddle shifters isn’t difficult, but the system will revert back to automatic if it isn’t used for a period of time.

Nissan Maxima

Learning how to use paddle shifters on Nissan Maxima models means you must put the transmission in Manual mode first.

Ford Mustang

Do you know how to use paddle shifters on Mustang cars? Figuring out how to use Mustang paddle shifters isn’t much different from the other cars we’ve discussed. Use the right paddle to go up and left to go down.

Ford Fusion

Learning how to use paddle shifters for Fusion cars is simple. Plus, you can’t hurt the system because there are safeguards built right in.


Do you know how to use paddle shifters on Subaru vehicles? Shift your gear from Drive to Manual to get started.

Toyota Camry

Figuring out how to use paddle shifters on Camry models is exactly the same. Gain more control with the right paddle shifting up and the left paddle shifting down.


Figuring out how to use Audi paddle shifters isn’t difficult. The right + will shift up, while the left – will downshift.


Learning how to use Porsche paddle shifters requires you to find the controls near or on the steering wheel.

Common Built-in Safety Features Of Paddle Shifters

If you are asking, “can paddle shifters be installed and will it hurt the engine,” you will find there’s nothing to worry about. Paddle shifters are designed with safeguards to ensure the engine isn’t harmed. The paddle shifters will not work if:

  • Upshifting occurs before the engine reaches its lower limit to the higher gear
  • Downshifting occurs before the engine reaches its upper limit to the lower gear
  • Both paddles are pressed down together
  • Attempting to shift into third or a higher gear while stationary
  • The vehicle is put back in Drive mode

People Also Ask (FAQs)

When should you paddle shift? Is it bad to use them all the time?

You can use paddle shifters any time that you want more control over the ride. Because there are safeguards built into the system, you will not hurt your vehicle by using it.

Do paddle shifters make your car faster? Are they faster than manual?

By not operating the conventional gear shifter, you can change between gears much faster than in a manual vehicle. You might find the overall performance is better with paddle shifters.

Do you have to let off the gas when paddle shifting?

There’s no reason to let off the gas while paddle shifting. However, if you are attempting to downshift and slow down the vehicle, it only makes sense for you to release the gas.

Do rally cars use paddle shifters?

Sometimes the rally car is equipped with a flipper paddled attached to the steering wheel. However, they can also contain a double-acting single paddle design instead.


Can you install paddle shifters on any car? They are mainly used with automatic vehicles to offer more control. By learning how to use paddle shifters, you can enjoy the ride even more.