Can You Shift Gears Without Using The Clutch? (Explained)

If you have been driving an automatic your entire life and you just started driving a manual, one of the things you won’t be used to is using the clutch because this is something that you don’t see in automatic cars.

And one of the things you need to do when shifting gears in a manual is to step on the clutch, which isn’t something that most people are used to doing.

Can you shift gears without using the clutch?

You can shift gears on a manual without using the clutch but it takes timing and practice for you to do so. However, there is a risk in doing so especially if you don’t get it right. You also can’t expect shifting without a clutch to be smooth especially if you haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.

Car Gear Stick 1200x800px 1

The good news for those who really haven’t gotten used to driving a manual car is that there is a workaround that will allow you to drive and shift gears without using the clutch.

Then again, it really isn’t the smoothest and easiest way to shift gears.

But this should be something you might want to try in case you haven’t gotten used to the clutch or if the clutch cable suddenly breaks.

Can you shift gears without using the clutch?

One of the things that automatic drivers don’t usually get used to when they first started driving a stick shift or a manual car is the clutch.

That’s because shifting in a manual requires that you step on the clutch as you are shifting.

And this isn’t something that you do with an automatic car because you don’t even have a clutch in the first place. This will make you wonder if you could still actually shift without using the clutch.

And even if you are someone who has gotten used to using the clutch, there is still a good reason why you may want to ask whether or not you can shift gears without using the clutch.

After all, there might be a time when the clutch cable gets broken and you still need to drive your car and bring it to the mechanic.

So, is it even possible for you to shift gears without using the clutch?

The good news is that, yes, you can shift gears without using the clutch.

There are those who have actually gotten used to doing this especially when they have clutch cables that are broken. This is what is usually called float shifting or slip shifting. 

Slip shifting has become very useful for those who have to drive their cars when the clutch is broken.

And the thing you need to know about it is that it requires practice on your part because slip shifting isn’t really that easy to pull off smoothly.

When slip shifting, the first thing you need to do is to wait until the RPMs are somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000. In some cars, it might be somewhere between 3,000 and 3500. But the point here is that to make sure you time it right.

From there, what you need to do is to release the gas immediately and then simultaneously pull the shifter out of gear before upshifting it into the next gear.

It sounds simple to do but it requires timing, accuracy, and precision because of how you will be doing several things simultaneously here.

It is also important that you need to make sure that you step off the gas pedal before you shift and that you only step on it when you have now upshifted into the next gear because this puts less stress on the transmission.

Meanwhile, downshifting is more or less the same as the process is similar. But downshifting without using the clutch might be a bit more challenging to do because you need to slow your RPM speed down to somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 before you can pull the shifter out of gear and then downshift.

Again, slip shifting is something that needs a bit of precision and timing on your part. The only way for you to get those things done is by making sure that you practice this.

Then again, practicing it can also be risky because there are some things you need to understand about float shifting and the risks involved with it.

Is shifting without the clutch bad?

When pulled off the right way such as when you have already practiced enough to the point that you can do it with pinpoint precision and accuracy, then shifting without the clutch isn’t bad for your car.

Then again, the point here is that you have to do it the right way, and the only way for you to get it right is with practice.

So, the risks involved here should be minimal as long as you have practiced enough.

However, practicing slip shifting can be the problem here because you are bound to make mistakes here and there. The mistakes you will be making while practicing can wear your transmission down.

Now, it is important to note that the clutch was designed for wear and tear. That means that the manufacturers made it a point to design the clutch in such a way that it is alright for it to eventually wear down due to the normal course of using it.

On the other hand, your transmission wasn’t designed with that purpose in mind.

While wear and tear is a part of the usual course of your transmission’s purpose, it was not built to be as disposable as the clutch in the sense that it isn’t supposed to be taking on a lot of wear and tear.

That’s why it is going to be more expensive for you to have your transmission replaced or repaired in comparison to fixing your clutch.

So, if you were to wear your transmission down because you practiced float shifting too much or because you relied on float shifting more when you are upshifting or downshifting, the possible costs will outweigh the benefits.

So, while you may still be able to shift gears on a manual without using the clutch, we recommend that you only do so if and only if your clutch is broken.

If you are someone who is used to an automatic that doesn’t have a clutch, what we recommend is that you have to get used to the clutch instead of relying so much on float shifting.


Autoblog: How to drive a manual transmission car without using the clutch

Motor Biscuit: What is slip shifting and can it ruin your car