Getting that smooth 1st to 2nd shift... - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


Drivetrain Tech General discussion of drivetrain for the Ford Ranger.

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Old 03-25-2010
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Getting that smooth 1st to 2nd shift...

Hi all,

I just picked up a 1988 Ford Ranger GT (approx. 71,000 miles, stock Toyo Kogyo 5-speed trans, clutch is about a year old according to the previous owner).

This might be strictly because I'm still not very good at shifting yet (2nd week on this truck, my first time driving stick) but I've noticed I have a difficult time getting a smooth shift from 1st to 2nd. In first gear I take off and the RPM's are about 1800 or so when I push in the clutch and make the switch to 2nd gear. The RPM's will dip down to around 800 and I'll go to shift, and it doesn't matter how fast/slow I let off the clutch, how much gas I give it while I'm letting off the clutch...I get this like "jerk forward" motion when I let off the clutch and give it some gas in 2nd gear. Sometimes its worse then others, but its rare for me to get it smooth.

I'm thinking it might just be my technique is still bad, but is it possible that there might be a problem with my 2nd gear? I hear bad syncros (whatever those are) can cause iffy shifts...I don't hear any grinding noises which I've also heard is the main sign of problems. My dad thought that perhaps 1st gear was strictly a "creeper gear" (still not sure what that is) and that I should be starting out in 2nd (but I read somewhere else that was incorrect).

Any advice on all this guys?

Thanks!

Last edited by link00seven; 03-25-2010 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 03-25-2010
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A creeper gear is typically seen in trucks/semis. It's main use is to get a vehicle to role forward. Since it's such a low gear, if you have one you typically start in 2nd gear. It doesn't allow you to go very fast at all. I'm thinking no more than about 5mph. I'm not familiar with your gen. of Ranger but I would highly doubt there would be a creeper gear in it.
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Old 03-25-2010
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Ahh I see. I might not be in first very long at all (a second-ish if that before I need to shift into second) but I'm not thinking that it's a creeper then, because I certainly go faster then 5mph in first gear. Not much, but faster nonetheless.
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Old 03-25-2010
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You need to give it more RPM's before you shift to second.
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Old 03-25-2010
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its kind of hard to explain, but you need to be giving it gas a split second before you start letting the clutch back in. just play around with how and when you are working the two pedals between gears.

practice practice practice. after a few thousand shifts it will be second nature.
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Old 03-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger_Envy View Post
You need to give it more RPM's before you shift to second.
X2 1800 rpm is really low. You are lugging the engine. Think about this, if you shoft into second, and it drops to 800 rpm, thats about 50 rpm below where you are at if you are idling (as in not moving.)

Shift around 2300-2500, thats where I shift. I have the 4.0 V6, but it is the same motor as your 2.9, just bigger dispacment.

And just practice alot lol. You'll get used to it. I've never owned an automatic vehicle (3 cars and one big *** chevy) and 2 of my cars didnt even have a tach in them. Once you get to know the truck, you;ll just automaticly get the feel of where you are supposed to shift.
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  #7  
Old 03-26-2010
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Honestly, rangers are tough to really get the 1-2 shift down in general. I've had 4 manual tranny rangers and they're all about the same.

But yeah like chain said, you'll get to a point where you're not even looking at your tach. I'm not sure what RPM I'm at when I'm just cruising but I'd guess around 2500. If I'm getting on it a bit probably 3k...and I mean if I'm really getting on it probably 4k. Normally, the higher the RPM, the quicker the shift needs to be to get it smooth.

You should give it some gas but it shouldn't be a revving, slipping gas, you should just be helping the engine stay at (or get back up to -- if you shift really slow) the RPM that it's going to be at in the next gear as you're letting out the clutch.

But anyway, don't get discouraged. Rangers are one of the toughest trucks there are to shift smoothly...and I've driven pretty much every vehicle out there, having been a mechanic for over 8 years.
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Old 03-26-2010
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it's all in how your baby purrs, baby!

seriously. you just gotta learn your truck, everyone else posting is exactly right...

my first gear, i don't really use, i mean, i do, but it's ride the clutch to get it moving, and by the time i'm off the clutch in first, i'm ALMOST ready to shift into second... i don't use first if the truck is already moving more than a quick walking pace...i toss it in second...

i usually shift at 2500-3000 rpm, i like my cruizing rpm to be around 2000-2500 when i shift from first to second, i'm almost putting pressure on the shifter before i push the clutch in... that way when the load is taken off the transmission, it just pops out... this can cause severe damage if you do it wrong though, and i would not recommend doing if you don't know how to shift... my point is though, i'm into second gear, long before my rpm drops past where it will be after the shift, and that's foot off the gas... i know my truck well enough that i'm back on the gas the exact instant that the clutch plates meet...

do not ride the clutch AT ALL except when starting into motion, from a stop, in 1st gear... all other shifts should be fairly quick (not fast) pedal movements... for the time being though, just take it easy, don't force anything, it's like a symphony, it wants to play beautiful music, you have to direct it how to, but if you force your instruments to play, when they aren't ready to, they are going to sound stressed and get mad at you...


contradictory to what i said above, riding the clutch is when you are making it slip, to allow the plates to try to meet at a speed, you have to let it meet speeds between your gears (1-2 2-3 3-4 4-5) but don't use the gas to keep the rpm higher than it should be after the shift... maybe a little bit of gas to rev match (this is when you make the engine rpm match the speed it will be if you were to let the clutch out, at your current speed, in your current gear

most of this is a lot more advanced than you need to know right now...

also, don't bother trying to downshift to slow down, you will probably fry your clutch at your stage... brakes are cheaper and easier to replace any day of the week... your clutch is anywhere between 700 and 2000 to replace
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Old 03-26-2010
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Wow! This is all really good information for me. I'm pretty smooth on the higher gears (2-3, 3-4, and 4-5) but it sounds like overall I have been shifting way sooner then I should be (even in the higher gears, too). That would explain the slower acceleration and that "bogged down" feeling that I sometimes get because it's engaging at too low of an RPM. I've just been thinking I might over-rev the engine, but it sounds like that isn't really the case if I shift at a higher RPM.

Today is week 3, so I'll just keep practicing and I'll keep all these tips in mind as I continue. More and more people tell me it's all about feeling it. Overall it's been quite interesting so far! Thanks everyone for taking the time out to post.
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Old 03-26-2010
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Sounds like you've got the information you needed. Just for reference, I never up-shift any earlier than 2,000 rpm, otherwise it bogs down the engine like you've stated. Typically I shift anywhere between 2,500 rpm and 4,000 rpm, depending on what road I'm trying to get moving on.
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Old 03-26-2010
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Don't worry about over reving... You will know if it's too high, you lose power before any issues will happen, I have shifted mine as high as 6000, but very rarely, as it wears the motor bad ***
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  #12  
Old 03-29-2010
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Bot mine last Wednesday and was getting just plain disappointed and annoyd with myself not shifting good. I've drove 300+ cars & trucks of every sort from a 1920 to this 2003.

Well FWIW last Saturday I went to a sister-in-laws birthday party and left a bit the worse for wear if you get my drift. Clumb into my P/U and took off like a big *ss bird. 1/2 way home I realized it was shifting as smooooooooooooth as a hydramatic. 10-4?
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  #13  
Old 04-10-2010
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Hi guys, thanks again for all your help with this previously. I've been having a riot driving this truck!

My uncle was coaching me a bit yesterday on downshifting and engine braking, and I just wanted to get your opinions on a couple things. Is it really necessary?

I've just been, up to this point, putting in my clutch and using my brakes to stop, and if I need to get going again to putting it back in gear, matching the revs and going (and I can usually do that pretty good). I was trying to downshift yesterday, and all I was accomplishing was feeling like I was doing more harm then good to the transmission (perhaps cause I wasn't matching the RPM's correctly?) I don't know, it just felt weird and being that this is my first vehicle with a stick, I don't want to mess something up.

So any tips on how I should be doing this, or if I should even really do it at all, are appreciated. Thanks again!
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Old 04-10-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by link00seven View Post
Hi guys, thanks again for all your help with this previously. I've been having a riot driving this truck!

My uncle was coaching me a bit yesterday on downshifting and engine braking, and I just wanted to get your opinions on a couple things. Is it really necessary?

I've just been, up to this point, putting in my clutch and using my brakes to stop, and if I need to get going again to putting it back in gear, matching the revs and going (and I can usually do that pretty good). I was trying to downshift yesterday, and all I was accomplishing was feeling like I was doing more harm then good to the transmission (perhaps cause I wasn't matching the RPM's correctly?) I don't know, it just felt weird and being that this is my first vehicle with a stick, I don't want to mess something up.

So any tips on how I should be doing this, or if I should even really do it at all, are appreciated. Thanks again!
hmm, i don't match RPMs when i downshift. i just let the clutch out in a steady motion, not so quick it jerks the truck, but not so slow it toasts the clutch. doing that makes me feel that the engine braking is more efficient. i normally downshift to 4th at about 55mph, and to 3rd at about 45, then use my brakes from there i only down shift to 2nd and 1st if i;m in a real hurry to stop. try doing that, and dont worry about fiddling with the gas for now.
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Old 04-10-2010
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Stopping - leave it in gear till you are nearly stopped - then ease into neutral with or without the clutch. If you put a little pressure on the stick at some rpm it will come out of gear easily w/o the clutch. Either way get off that clutch pedal till the next time you need it. Keep your foot poised over the pedal. Keeping the pedal down wears the throwout bearing.

Grabbing the next lower gear in traffic or on a hill - You have it correct; pick the gear and match the rpms. Use clutch the regular way by advancing the throttle and selecting the next gear.

Grabbing a lower gear after coasting and losing much speed - You MUST memorize which gear to pick vs the truck speed. Look at the speedometer then make your best guess. Best thing to do is goose up the rpm's in neutral (foot off the clutch pedal) then select the gear using the clutch & throttle the regular way. Don't just take your foot off the clutch. That does work but it jerks the clutch lining.

Many just jamb the stick into the lower gear and let off gradually on the clutch slipping it the same as when upshifting letting the vehicle momentum raise the rpms. This is wrong and will wear the clutch. It might feel like a smooth shift but it isn't correct.

Downshifting to slow the vehicle- Don't! These are light trucks and even if loaded aren't heavy enough to mess with this type of stopping. Here again the above paragraphs apply. If you simply must do this rooky trick you have to practise constantly till you have it cooled and you should goose it up and double clutch it and all that. You'll need to learn to shift by the sound of the engine.

Even the big rigs don't really do this unless necessary or only to a lesser extent because those trucks have an engine brake mechanism that instantly converts the engine into a big compression brake. Ocasionally a driver will downshift to nuthin but it's just to break the monotony. After all that the big rigs mostly shift without the clutch anyway. One of mine had 300K on the clutch when I bought it and I put another 200K on that. My old toyota PU has 217K on the original clutch. Sure its worn but still functinal.
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Old 04-10-2010
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contrary to popular belief down shifting doesn't cause as much wear as everyone thinks it does. my step dad had an early 1990s F150, straight six, 4 speed. The clutch lasted well over 200,000 miles, and that was with down shifting!! He sold the truck before the clutch even went bad.
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Old 04-11-2010
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downshifting PROPERLY doesn't cause excessive wear, but learning how to shift period, and downshifting at the same time does
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Old 04-11-2010
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well yes. you should first just learn how to shift, get comfy with everything. don't try learning to down shift until up shifting becomes second nature. being brought up on a farm, i was lucky enough to know how to drive stick since 12.
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Old 04-11-2010
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BINGO!
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Old 04-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbp02 View Post
Rangers are one of the toughest trucks there are to shift smoothly....
I believe that. lol
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Old 04-12-2010
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^^ me to lol. i've tried everything and sometimes i still just cant get a smooth quick shift.
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Old 04-12-2010
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i disagree, i don't see any difference between my ranger, my f250 or my mustang (other than my f250 rode a lot more
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Old 04-12-2010
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Man, You guys all run 1st up pretty high, If I want to i can run every gear to 1200-1500 without lugging or stress, and I can drive it and have it shift really smooth, and almost shift it as smooth without the clutch. Usually any higher than 2000 rpm just sounds like I winding the engine up more than nessecary.
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  #24  
Old 04-12-2010
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I did notice a bit of a difference between the Ranger and a Mack with a ten speed Roadranger.
The Mack was just a bit easier but more time consuming .
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Old 04-12-2010
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A bit off topic but one time I picked up a loaded truck at 11:00 pm late December. Cabover with a 220 pancake engine and a 4 & 4. For the first 10 miles I posatively could not get it into high gear. Finally topped an adverse with around 6 miles down hill ahead of me and decided it was going into high. Period! So I got back up to speed coasting down, grabbed the main stick with both hands, braced my left foot on the clutch, arched my back and raked it in. H*ll with it.

Next morning I saw the day (regular) driver and asked if he had trouble shifting into high. Nope. He said he just grabbed the stick with both hands, braced his left foot on the clutch, arched his back and raked her in.
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