Car GearShift direction

I’m trying to learn to use the ‘manual’ (sequential shift) mode on my automatic gearbox to stop the car shifting gears while going up hills or stopping. One problem is that the Gear Stick operates in the opposite direction to anything else I have ever owned.

To shift UP a gear, I have to push the gear stick AWAY from me, FORWARD.
To shift DOWN a gear, I have to pull the gear stick TOWARD me, BACK.

Is this normal for all cars? Normal only for cars from some countries? Normal for a particular manufacturer (GM)?

It is the opposite to the gears on the bicycle I had at at age 13, my motor cycles (toe shift), and the H pattern stick shifts I drove for years, where I pulled back to shift from 1st to 2nd, 3rd to 4th, neutral to 5th. I don’t remember how the column shifts worked.

That is weird. The column shift in my 77 Ford van was a sideways H, with reverse up (counter-clockwise) and toward the driver, 1st down and toward, 2nd up and toward the engine, and 3rd down and toward the engine. Only 3 gears because they made them with big ol’ V-8s in those days, and you could drive it in 2nd from 0 to 60 if you really wanted to.

It’s the standard for all cars I know about.

No offense, but you’re looking at this all wrong. Bicycles and motorcycles are irrelevant here, totally different designs with totally different mechanisms. Plus you seem to be forgetting that in the H pattern you push forward to go from 2nd to 3rd and from 4th to 5th and that on a bicycle* one shift lever upshifts going forward while the other downshifts going forward.

The point? SHIFT LEVERS ARE NOT DESIGNED TO GO A CERTAIN DIRECTION, THEY ARE DESIGNED TO ALLOW EFFICIENT SHIFTING. In an automatic transmission, the norm is Park-Reverse-Neutral-Drive-2nd-1st. If it’s a floor shifter, it goes fore and aft and Park is forward. If it’s a column shifter, it goes left and right and Park is left (on U.S. cars, anyway). The manual mode on your car reflects simply reflects the norm.

Do yourself a favor and get this “forward should downshift/rearward should upshift” notion out of your mind. It is not as “normal” as you thought, and hanging on to the idea will only serve to frustrate you.

*On a standard 10+ speed two-derailleur design.

The cars I have driven with the manual shifting automatic gear selector have always been “+/gear up” forward and “-/gear down” towards you. But looking online it does seem that there are a couple out there where it’s reversed. The Lancia seems to have the “-” away from you and the “+” towards you.

For me, the “+” up and “-” down arrangement is the most intuitive and exactly what I expected the first time I drove one of these types of transmissions. You want to go up a gear? Push up. You want to go down a gear? Push down. Seems straightforward. Not only this, but in an automatic transmission, the lower gears are usually down, anyway, so you might have something like P- R-N-D-3-2-1, so if you want to force your car into a lower gear, you’re also pushing down on the shifter.

The reverse orientation, which you seem to prefer, would confuse me. I drive a regular ol’ stick shift manual transmission 99% of the time and I don’t see how that plays into it. While you are shifting towards you from 1st to 2nd and 3rd to 4th, you’re also shifting away from you on 2nd to 3rd and 4th to 5th, so I don’t see how that plays with the notion that towards you should be up and away from you should down. It alternates in a manual, so I don’t have any muscle memory association that one direction should naturally be upshifting and the other downshifting.

My experience with automatic transmissions is as follows: the gears are layed out in a line, usually going Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, 2 (sometimes called H), 1 (sometimes called L).
Of there is an option of Overdrive with drive, usuually shown by an O that encircles a D, that will be between Neutral and Drive.

On a column shift, Park is all the way counter-clockwise, and you move the lever clockwise. On a floor shift, Park is all the way forwards and you pull the lever back.
American Cars, German Cars, Swedish Cars, Japanese Cars, … I’ve never heard of one that differed significanlty.
On the short-lived “Pushbutton Automatic” Chrysler made around 1960, the buttons were on the dashboard, and Park was at the top with the others in the same order as usual.

Volkwagen made a bug with what folks thought was an automatic. They called it the “semiautomatic”, and it was really a manual where pushing down on the shiftlever engaged the clutch.

One other thing:

I’m not sure why you are doing this.
My father was very thorough in teaching me how to drive. He taught me things I’d only need to know if I was driving a truck or a bus, he taught me things I never really needed on the street but found very helpful while playing racing sims. He taught me things that only applied to rear-engine cars.
He taught me that on certain rare occasions, such as trying to drive across ice, one might desire to put the car in 1 (or Low) because that would prevent the car from shifting up if the tires slipped, because that could make recovering traction harder. While he was co-piloting my early driving, he pointed out one or two such occasions. He told me that sometimes you’d want to use 2 (or High) when going down a long hill, particularly while pulling a trailer, because it would prevent the car from shifting up into third. That never came up while I was still learning, or in any of the 25 years since.
In fact, the only time I have ever used the option to manually select the gear on an automatic was a misbehaving old car that sometimes would forget to shift down when I stopped.

So I’m curious what practical use it is to not use Drive “while going up hills or stopping”. And why it would come up enough that you want practice at it.

I have two cars with manual mode. One has it the same as your car but the other is laid out the opposite way. The car I drive the most has what seems to be the less common push to downshift and pull to upshift so that’s what I’m accustomed to, especially lately using it a lot more in the snow. The other car has paddle shifters in addition to console shifter so I those and avoid getting confused with the different layouts.

He’s just asking a question. You might want to cut back on the caffeine.

I don’t use it that often, since I live in the Midwest, but on mountainous roads down shifting to take the wear off your brakes and keep your speed in a safe range is pretty usual for me to do. I’ll even keep the car in first when going down some of those twisty high-rise parking garages so I’m not riding the brake the whole way down. Not that there’s any real danger of my brakes fading in a high-rise parking garage, I just like to treat my car as gently as possible. On a long mountain decent, though, it’s more of a real safety concern, although I suspect most brakes on modern cars should be able to handle it.

Going uphill, I don’t know. Maybe you’d downshift if you’re finding your automatic is trying to keep too high a gear and you’d prefer a little more “punchiness” in your acceleration from a lower gear. And for stopping, I never use engine braking for that–always just the brakes.

In my car when in Drive, pulling the shifter to the left downshifts and pushing to the right upshifts.

I was just trying to wake him up, as he seems to have slept through half of the shifting he did on his manual-transmission car. :slight_smile:

Also, on every column-shift automatic I ever had, the lever went up and down on the side of the column, not left and right.

You’re right. I was thinking about the shift indicator, which on older cars tended to go left-right. On many newer ones it too goes up-down.

In WRC and most racing cars it is forward to downshift and backwards to upshift. The reasoning behind this is that when you are under acceleration it is easier to pull the stick backwards to shift up a gear. Same thing goes with deceleration.

Thanx for the information folks.

FWIW, only because this car tends to select the wrong gear at the wrong time when going uphill (on my regular commute). I think it’s been tuned for better fuel economy, but (1) it gives you a good shake every time it changes down a gear (2) it changes the speed the car is going when on cruise control (3) If you aren’t on cruise control, you have to react on the acclearator to keep the speed constant, which makes it hunt.

The picture I’m getting is, not universal, but pretty standard. I hadn’t thought about D-3-2-1 because this car doesn’t have that. I move the stick sideways into sequential shift, then I can push up or pull down.