Why Car Wont Downshift To First Gear?

The first gear is generally the gear that is used when you move forward from a stationary position. You also use 1st gear when moving along in heavy traffic roads at very slow speeds, which is usually combined with clutch control. First gear is also used when you occasionally start on a downhill.

But have you ever noticed that your car wont downshift to first? Wondering why is it so hard to shift into first gear unless it’s a dead stop? Let’s dive into this article and understand the working of gears and especially the first gear and why does it work differently than other ones.

Why Do You Need First Gear?

Although it is a rare occasion when you are downshifting to gear one still there are moments when you need to shift your gear to first gear. Since the basic rule of gar says you lower your gears when your need to extract more power from the engine and shift the gear to higher if you require high speed in your car.


So in case if you have to travel uphill you must change your gear to first also whenever you are pulling at a lower speed like in traffic you need first gear to the rescue. To select the first gear you take your left-hand palm facing away from you and cup on the gear lever and move the lever to your left and then forward.

How Can You Smoothly Change Gears?

Make sure that the area you are using to change the gear is a safe zone, any place where it is necessary to use both hands at your car steerings, such as a corner or bend would be unsuitable. Then, you have to release the accelerator pedal slowly before pressing the clutch. These two actions must take place almost simultaneously. Now, select the appropriate gear using your left hand but be careful and aware of the scene around you and not look at the gear lever while shifting the gear.

Now similar to the previous step, just ease off your clutch pedal before applying pressure again to your accelerator pedal. This technique will help you to select a gear without damaging its gear mechanism because following these many steps will enable you to reduce the power that is being transmitted from the engine to the gearbox.

Why Your Car Wont Downshift To First?

The first gear is the largest in the transmission and is enmeshed with a small gear. A typical gear ratio when a car is in first gear is 3.166:1. When a first gear is engaged, low speed, but high power is delivered. This gear ratio is great for starting your car from a standstill. Gear ratios represent the gear’s relation with each other in size. When different sized gears mesh together, they can rotate at different speeds and generate different amounts of power.

Now the first gear is the gear that is required for low speed and high power that is for situations like driving uphill or engaged in a traffic zone. The gear ratio of the first gear is the highest among all of the gears. The gear ratio of the second gear is 1.882:1. That means there is a huge difference that is to be bridged by a device called synchromesh.

Now the question arises what is a synchromesh? So a synchromesh is a vital part of a manual transmission that helps you to perform a perfect shift. A synchromesh effectively allows a gear change to be completed with one press on the clutch pedal, which forces the rev-matching through its structured teeth-meshing. So now you need not match the speed of the clutch plate with your flywheel all this work is done by your synchromesh which made the manual gear-shifting far easier than it used to be in the past.

A synchromesh is almost like a small clutch that is present on the output shaft between gears that helps slowing or increasing the necessary gear’s relative speed and perform a perfect meshing of teeth within your transmission. So whenever you are trying to downshift to first gear, the relative speed difference between the output shaft and input shaft will be large compared to the other less aggressive ratios because of the huge ratio difference.

How Do You Shift To Gear One?

Although it is a rare occasion when you have to shift your gear to one and it is not recommended too since it causes a lot of strain on your transmission components. It may be damaging for your engine also because you are going from low RPMs too high, but in case you have had to do it then these are the following points you should keep in your mind:

  1. You should not gear down to one from a very high gear, such as 4 or 5. In case you must downshift to first you should do it from second gear.
  2. You have to be at a slow road speed and then match the engine back to 4500 before you let the clutch engage again.
  3. You can try using the double clutch technique, that is release and reengage the clutch of your vehicle twice while changing the gear. The purpose of the double-clutch technique is to aid in matching the rotational speed of the input shaft being driven by the engine to the rotational speed of the gear the driver wishes to select.


I conclusion you must avoid downshifting to first gear since it is dangerous for your engine and transmission components but if you have had to do it, then you must take the general precautions while shifting to gear one. Now you know why your car wont downshift to first, this article also covered all the important tips to shift the gear. The most important thing to be aware of while shifting the gear is to keep yourself at the moment and look outside the vehicle, not at the gear lever. This can reduce the risk of any unfortunate mishappening.

If any of your queries are still left unresolved then do comment your questions down below we will try to find solutions for you.

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