Go to content
  1. Home>
  2. Discover Kia>
  3. ASK>
  4. How do paddle shifters work?

How do paddle shifters work?

“By pressing the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel, drivers can easily switch gears without using the brakes and provide a sportier, smoother driving experience.”


In an automatic transmission vehicle, gear shifting is conducted automatically, as its name indicates. Whereas its counterpart with a manual transmission makes drivers change gears manually. However, automatic transmission cars are also equipped with a manual mode, providing drivers with a more active driving experience as if they were driving a manual transmission car. Many cars have switches right behind the steering wheel to change the gear stage, and these switches are called “paddle shifters.”


Paddle shifters allow you to shift gear while holding the steering wheel without having to move your hand to the gear lever, making the change safer and quicker. By clicking the paddle shifter, you can upshift or downshift the transmission as you drive.


The paddle shift was initially used in a sequential transmission for racing cars. Its structure is close to that of a manual transmission, but it makes it possible to shift gear quickly and safely by connecting the paddle and the transmission through mechanical or electronic devices. How paddle shifters work resembles the way of gear shifting in a race car or a sports car.


Paddle shifters are pretty simple to use: all you have to do is press or push the paddle to put the car in manual mode. The right paddle marked with a “+” is used to upshift while the left paddle marked with a “-” is used to downshift.

Having paddle shifters in your car allows you to react to the situation in a way that cannot be done with an automatic transmission. In an automatic transmission car, sensors determine whether to shift gears or not. However, with paddle shifters, you can drive and shift gears as you want while you see and anticipate the things to come next, enjoying a sportier and smoother driving experience.


When you make a turn and use a paddle shifter to change into a lower gear, it ensures more torque and speed. When you go on a downhill road, clicking the left paddle shifter can slow down the car without using the brakes. If you go uphill, you can easily downshift with a high revolution with the left paddle shifter to make sure you have enough power when the slope gets tough. You can also upshift to get your car out of the snow faster, downshift to slow your car down without using the brakes in heavy rain, ensuring you have more control over your vehicle. Despite all the great technical progress in automatic transmissions, they sometimes have difficulty reading the road under severe weather conditions. In such a case, paddle shifters play the role of perfect backups.