How Does Paddle Shifting Work?

Paddle shifters use electronic controls to allow drivers to shift gears in an automated manual transmission. This approach gives the driver the precision shifting one would expect from a manual transmission without having to engage a clutch pedal. By shifting into drive, one can operate the vehicle while allowing an onboard computer to shift gears.

Manufacturers install paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The paddle on the right shifts the transmission to a higher gear, while the one on the left shifts to a lower gear. This positioning of the paddles allows the driver to shift gears manually without removing his hands from the steering wheel for improved safety.

Paddle shifters are generally used on dual-clutch transmissions or continuous variable transmissions. The 2014 Toyota Corolla S with the seven-speed CVTi-S feature also includes paddle shifters. Drivers use the paddles to move between seven gears in the forward mode. Toyota includes features to protect the engine from downshifting in certain situations. If downshifting increases the revolutions per minute to a level that is too high, the user hears a warning signal and the transmission does not shift. Once the vehicle has slowed to a safer speed, it is possible to downshift to a lower gear.