Even though manual transmission vehicles are becoming less popular, some drivers still prefer the precision and control that a stick shift provides. There’s a certain sense of pride in mastering the gearbox and the clutch pedal. You might find it difficult to operate a manual at first. However, with enough time and practice, you’ll be switching gears like a pro!
If you’re new to manual-transmission driving, you might have come across the terms rev matching or heel-toe downshifting. What do they mean and what benefits can you get from them? Let’s find out in this article!
What Is Rev Matching?
Have you ever wondered why race car drivers downshift when they approach a corner? They’re trying to raise the engine speed to match the lower gear they’ve shifted into. The result is a smooth transition that allows the car to turn a corner without bogging down. This technique is called rev matching or heel-toe downshifting, and it can extend the life of your engine and transmission if done correctly.
First, let’s take a look at how gearing works. Shorter gears have more torque and lower top speeds, while taller gears have less torque and higher top speeds. This means that the transmission speed varies depending on which gear you’re in. If you’re in fourth gear, for instance, you’d have a low RPM. The RPM increases whenever you downshift.
Next, let’s talk about clutch disks and pressure plates. The clutch disk is located in between the pressure plate and the flywheel. It rotates according to your transmission speed. Meanwhile, the pressure plate is bolted onto the flywheel, and it rotates at the same speed as your engine. Even though these components are installed next to each other, they serve different functions. If you were to downshift from fourth to third, that would trigger the clutch disk to disengage from the pressure plate. At this point, you’d need to match the engine speed to the transmission speed by blipping the throttle, so that when both components come together, the vehicle wouldn’t lose its balance.
It’s important to note that rev matching uses more fuel due to the application of the accelerator pedal. However, the fuel consumption is extremely low.
How Is Rev Matching Done?
Rev matching is difficult, but not impossible to master. Here are a couple of pointers for those who are just learning how to rev match.
- Whenever you approach a corner, you should always downshift to make a safe turn.
- Pressing the clutch pedal will lower your RPM, so you need to press on the gas pedal to bring the RPM up to match your engine speed.
- When you aren’t using the clutch, don’t step on the clutch pedal. Instead, place your foot on the dead pedal or footrest if your vehicle has one.
Learning how to execute this technique correctly is part of the fun of driving a manual transmissionHowever, if you find this process too difficult, you can always opt for a vehicle like the Nissan 370Z, Honda Civic Type R, or Mini Cooper S, which have automatic rev matching features. All you have to do is downshift, and the car will handle the rest.
Is Rev Matching Necessary?
Rev matching doesn’t just give racers a competitive advantage on the race track. It can also help drivers extend the life of their clutch and engines. If you were to downshift without raising your engine’s RPM, you’d risk damaging your internal components because of the rotational difference between the clutch disk and the pressure plate. You also need to rev match whenever you switch gears while turning, so that your vehicle doesn’t lose its balance from the amount of braking torque on your wheels. We don’t need to remind you how dangerous it is to lose control of your vehicle while traveling at high speeds. This is the reason why racers use rev matching whenever they turn.
Does Rev Matching Hurt the Clutch?
Whenever you switch gears, you subject the clutch assembly to stress. Rev matching actually minimizes clutch wear when downshifting. When you press down on the clutch pedal, you’re taking extra stress away from the clutch disc. If done correctly, this technique can prolong the life of your transmission and engine.
If you don’t want to spend thousands on clutch replacements, you’d better get used to blipping the throttle when downshifting. Otherwise, you’ll need to get high-quality replacement parts. Check out this link for great deals on clutch parts, flywheels, and more.
Can You Downshift Without Rev Matching?
While it’s possible to downshift without rev matching, this places a significant amount of strain on the clutch assembly. If you downshift and release the clutch without raising the RPM, the braking torque is transferred to the driven wheels, which gives the feeling of falling forward. In some cases, not rev matching can cause the vehicle to lose its balance. We strongly recommend that you practice this technique until it becomes second nature to keep you and your passengers safe.
Can You Rev Match an Automatic?
Automatic vehicles are designed with convenience in mind. They don’t have a clutch installed. Instead, they have four modes: Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive. This replaces the need to rev match when downshifting. You only need to focus on accelerating and braking. This makes automatics a joy to drive in heavy traffic conditions, despite the stigma that manual drivers often attach to them.
We hope this guide covered everything you need to know about rev matching. There’s still so much to learn about manual transmission driving. For now, we urge you to practice this technique until you get used to it. With manual transmission vehicles disappearing from production lines, rev matching might go the way of the dinosaur. Before then, we hope you’ll follow the advice we’ve provided above to keep your clutch and engine in good working order.