Paddle shifters: an expert's overview

Paddle shifters are one of the many components with useful functions available in automobiles that most people are unaware of regarding its operation and mechanism. They are a fascinating addition to automobiles. This article seeks to explain paddle shifters in great detail.

What are paddle shifters?

Paddle shifters

A paddle shifter is an electronic device in automobiles that allows drivers to shift gears electronically. It generally aids gear selection and makes for a smoother transition between gears. Its primary aim is to reduce stress and make for a more comfortable driving experience.

Some car manufacturers place them by the steering wheel, while some put them by the gear levers. Rather than moving the gear manually, a simple tap on the paddle shifter from the driver would do the trick. It is a soft touch component commonly labeled with positive and negative signs.

The upper limit and lower limit

Some paddle shifters are useful at the upper limit, which are also very good. For example, in the Mercedes Benz chain cars, you can increase or reduce speed when they are present. For the lower limit, they are present in cars with high gears like Mercedes-Benz vehicles to make things easy for the drivers, especially in times when they need to control their speed very quickly. The upper limit and the lower limit are speed limits that are present. The limits used at whatever time are almost wholly dependent on the situation that calls for them.

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A good example would be when a driver has to turn a corner. Drivers shouldn't negotiate curves on the road at high speeds as it is dangerous. However, sometimes, you might find yourself at a curve and still going at a dangerous speed. Engaging the paddle shifters in this case can help you reduce your speed smoothly and easily.

Paddle shifters also come in handy in situations where you fail in your attempts to decrease speed. Engaging the paddle shifters can help get the speed to a level where you are back in control.

In automatic vehicles, the degree to which a driver takes the pressure off the accelerator is the degree to which the vehicle slows down. As you place pressure on the accelerator, eventually, the vehicle speeds up. A paddle shift is usually faster than a manual shift.


Manual vs paddle-shift gearboxes

Mind you, before a paddle-shift, the driver must be decelerating. You cannot Paddle shift while accelerating. There are three types of transmission that employ paddle shifts. They are the automated manuals, the manuals, and the automatics.

  • Automated manual

These are semi-automated manual transmissions. This feature is available in some cars like Lamborghini's Aventador. The car's ECU, through its paddle shifters, controls this kind of transmission. This system is often jerky or violent because of how the clutch and transmission are automatic.

  • Manual

Most of the time, this kind of transmission is only present in race cars. These cars still have a clutch pedal. Instead of a manually operated H-pattern or sequential gear lever, they have paddle shifters built into the car's steering wheel. These cars only need the clutch pressed when they are starting and coming to a halt.

  • Automatic

This feature is available in traditional automatics and vehicles with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs). They generally offer the driver more control over the car, ensuring that its transmission does not get damaged by aggressive shifting. This transmission often comes together with specific ECU programming. You can read our article on manual vs. automatic transmission to understand this better.

What is the point of paddle shifters?

  • The primary purpose of this invention is to ease gear selection. Especially for racing vehicles, it is important so that the drivers do not have to battle with their gears while driving and lose time in the race. It enables the drivers to shift through gears without changing positions as the paddle shifter controllers are usually at the steering wheel.
  • Paddle shifters also allow drivers to concentrate without having distractions as they are mainly for race vehicles.
  • Paddle shifters increase momentum.

Is it bad to use paddle shifters?

It is not necessarily bad. But you can say it can be a little wasteful when used for a normal, non-racing vehicle as it is not usually needed. On the other hand, when it is present in racing vehicles, it is quite essential. So, it depends; are you planning to race?

Should you use paddle shifters?

Yes, you should use it if you have it. For example, the cruise function in vehicles. While you may not describe it as an essential function, it can become quite helpful and addictive when you learn to use it. However, you shouldn't go out of your way to use any accessories in a car. If you don't have a need for a paddle shifter, then by all means carry on with your normal driving.

Can you put paddle shifters on an automatic?

 How do paddle shifters work

Yes, they are most useful in automatic vehicles. Vehicles with paddle shifters are almost always automatic.

What should you not do with paddle shifters?

The answer to this is very straightforward. If the situation does not call for you to support your gear, there is no need. Paddle shifters are essentially in place as enhancers.

Paddle shifters, like many other accessories, come with certain functions in mind for them. They are not in place to be operational in all situations.

For example, the auxiliary function coming into play when the ground is not slippery kills the vehicle. We can say this because the ideal function is only temporary to overcome a specific situation, and then the vehicle is returned to the normal drive.

When should you downshift paddle shifters?

You can downshift paddle shifters when the engine speed moves towards the upper limit or the lower limit. When moving at high speeds, you reach the upper limit when the RPM has gone far, and the gears are not responding.

This scenario will mean that the gear is still low. At this upper limit, you can initiate the downshift paddle shifters to meet up with the engine capacity. You can shift paddle shifters from 45 RPM.

Is it better to brake or downshift?

The point here is two components are being used in one. Depending on the driver's situation, you can use the speed at which the driver is driving and the driver's condition, any one of the two components. It is also dependent on the preference of the driver.

Either one of the two components can be used depending on the most comfortable driver and speed. For example, if a person is not too smart with their feet.

This scenario is common with drivers, usually when a person moves from manual to automatic. It is useful in balancing the time of confusion or hesitation in figuring out what is what. It is a good idea to get acquainted with either of the components that would be faster and easier to handle at that particular moment.

Do you have to let go of the gas when using paddle shifters?

Yes, you do let go of the gas because you need to decelerate. Suppose a person shifts late on a race track. The next person overtakes them as it reduces the speed.

As a tip, please note that paddle shifters are mainly for people who use their vehicles to race. That is its specific purpose, and because it was built for that purpose, it is to be used at that time. On the other hand, it will not be necessary because you are not at the same speed limit for you to operate that component.

In engineering, there are negligible values, and it is certain that if you neglect them, nothing is going to happen to the vehicle because they do not affect the vehicle. There are also many advantages of paddle shifters, depending on the environment one finds themselves in.

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