How to shift gears in a manual Ford Ranger

(Image: shift stick image by BaSSaBaS from

Ford Rangers are versatile little trucks. They are convenient for moving small items of furniture and are able to fit in most compact parking spaces. The typical Ranger can come in either standard or automatic shifting patterns. It would be a shame to have to cancel your moving plans because you didn’t know how to drive your friend's truck, but most people are able to learn how to drive a stick shift within a week of their first lesson.

Depress the clutch completely to the floor with your left foot, hold the brake down with your right foot, and turn the key to start the truck. Be sure you don't take your foot off of the clutch, or the engine will die. If you are able to move the shifter back and forth from left to right then you are in neutral. Place the truck in first gear by moving the shifter all the way to the left and as far toward the dashboard as it will go.

Switch your right foot from the brake to the accelerator and slowly rev the engine. Simultaneously release the clutch pedal slowly until you feel the truck begin to inch forward. Continue to apply the gas, and let off the clutch. Don't move either foot too soon or the vehicle will lurch violently forward and the engine will die.

Get the truck moving in first gear. Depress the clutch again and completely let off the gas once the truck reaches 15 mph. Put the shifter into second gear (immediately below first) and repeat the clutch and gas transition that you used to get the truck moving in first gear. Once you reach 30mph move the shifter back into neutral then toward the dashboard a little to the right of first gear to move into third gear. At 45mph move the shifter straight down to shift into fourth gear. Round about 55mph is a safe place to move all the way to the right and all the way forward to the fifth and final gear. The truck is capable of reaching speeds around 80 mph in this gear.

Make sure the truck is at a complete stop before attempting to shift into reverse. Place the shifter into neutral then slide it all the way to the right and down, toward the passenger seat. Once it pops into place you repeat the steps necessary for moving forward from a stop, only this time you will be moving backwards.

Tips & Warnings

  • On the standard Ford Ranger the emergency brake (or e-brake) is located on the floor by the driver's left foot. Be sure to pull the lever and disengage the brake before you start driving.
  • Most Rangers (particularly older models) do not have readings for RPMs , so you will need to make the decision on when to shift gears based on the speed you are traveling and the sound of the engine. If the engine sounds like its "laboring" it's probably time to shift gears.
  • Try to find a nice flat place to practice shifting gears. It can be a tough challenge to get out of first gear on your way up a hill, so plan accordingly.
  • Also try not to practice in traffic or around other vehicles because you will tend to stall a lot, and may irritate your fellow drivers.

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