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Changing gear


RiDC's consumer information, aimed at older and disabled people, is based on independent research, the experiences of consumers and experts and is completely unbiased.

Making it easier to change gearEasy-release gear changer from Alfred Bekker

Easy-release gear changer from Alfred Bekker

Manual gear change:

  • use your foot on the clutch pedal and your hand on the gear lever to change gear. 

Automatic gear change:

  • use your hand to select between Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive
  • when stationary you apply the brake while shifting between these settings
  • when you're driving and applying the gas pedal the car automatically selects the right gear. 

Semi-automatic gear change:

  • where you use a lever or buttons on the steering wheel to select the right gear
  • can help if you can't use your left so well because you don't have to use the clutch pedal
  • usually measn the gear is on the dashboard or transmission tunnel on your left, though some cars (mostly automatics) have them on the steering column
  • means just using the gear selector which doesn't require a lot of strength.
  • often has a hill-start function - check this out
  • won't work if you use hand controls for braking because you won't be able to brake, steer and change gear at the same time.

Think about:

  • solutions that give you full control without adapting the car more than necessary
  • controls where you can find the biting point easily and ride the clutch if you have to
  • hill-start assist - holds the brake until you pull away
  • controls that leave you free to reach other controls that you might need to operate while changing gear
SAFETY: any solution must allow you to have at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times

Simple solutions

Automatic transmission

Automatic cars are good for people who have difficulty with or can't use their left foot. Automatic cars are much easier to drive but they are less fuel efficient and cost more. You need some strength in your hand to operate the gear selector. There are easy-release gear changers available, a simple adaptation which can make the automatic gear selection.

Prices shown were from the time of our research. 

For current prices, find car adaptation suppliers and fitters here.

Companies supplying easy-release gear changers
Supplier Price
Adaptacar £130
Alfred Bekker £68
Jeff Gosling from £90

Complex solutions

Elap duck clutch
'Duck' clutch

Adapted clutch

On a manual car, an adapted clutch is one you operate with the hand you change gear with instead of your foot.

Companies supplying adapted clutches
Supplier Price
Alfred Bekker £1,975
Elap £2,145
Vehvac £1,395

Push-button gear selector

Push-button gear selector from AdaptacarOn an automatic car, a push-button gear selector allows you to select Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive settings with one finger. It can be mounted wherever you need it. You have to apply the brake to change gear.

Companies supplying push-button gear selectors
Supplier Product Price
Adaptacar Memory Shift £1,517
Spacedrive n/a

Last updated: June 2012

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