How to Drive a Car in Reverse Gear

Most motorists usually drive their vehicle forward. Occasionally, you might have to drive in reverse gear, such as when you are backing out of a parking spot or parallel parking. Initially, driving in reverse can seem difficult, especially if you have not had much practice doing it. Luckily, it is easy to learn to drive your vehicle in reverse. By following a few simple steps, you can learn to drive in reverse gear in no time.

Part 1 of 3: Getting ready to drive in reverse gear

Step 1: Adjust the seat. First, you need to adjust your seat so that you can still press the brake and gas, even while your body is turned around slightly to back up.

The seat position should allow you to easily and comfortably turn around and look over your right shoulder while still having the ability to press the brake and stop quickly if needed.

If you need to drive in reverse for an extended amount of time, it is better to adjust your seat closer to the steering wheel while you do so, and then readjust the seat again once you can drive forward.

Step 2: Position the mirrors. Before driving in reverse, make sure your mirrors are also properly adjusted in case you need to use them. Once adjusted, the mirrors should give you a full field of view.

Keep in mind that you need to readjust them if you move the seat once you start driving forward again.

person sitting in the drivers seat putting on a seatbelt with

Step 3: Put on your seatbelt. As a final precaution, fasten your seatbelt before performing any kind of driving maneuver, including driving in reverse.

  • Note: Make sure the seatbelt is over your shoulder as designed. Proper seatbelt use can help prevent injury in case of an accident.

Part 2 of 3: Putting the car in reverse gear

After adjusting your seat and mirrors, and making sure your seatbelt is on properly, it is time to put your vehicle into reverse. Depending on your car type, you can accomplish this in one of a few ways. Your vehicle’s gear shifter is either on the steering column or on the center floor console, depending on the vehicle make and model, and whether the vehicle has an automatic or manual transmission.

Option 1: Automatic transmission on the column. For vehicles with an automatic transmission that have the gear shift on the steering column, you need to keep your foot on the brake as you pull the shifter down into reverse. Do not remove your foot from the brake or turn around until after you have shifted into reverse.

hand on the shifter

Option 2: Automatic transmission on the floor. The same goes for vehicles with automatic transmissions that have the gear shift on the floor console. Hold the brake and maneuver the gear shifter down and into reverse gear.

Step 3: Manual transmission on the floor. For vehicle with a manual transmission and the gear shifter on the floor, reverse is the opposite of the fifth gear and usually requires you to maneuver the gear shifter over and down to place it into reverse.

When using a manual transmission to reverse, your left foot is used to work the clutch, while your right foot works the gas and brake.

Part 3 of 3: Steering while in reverse gear

Once you have the vehicle in reverse gear, it is time to drive backwards. At this point, you can turn around and release the brake slowly. In addition, you want to avoid going too fast, so do not press the gas pedal unless you need to. Focus on where you are going and use the brake to slow your progress if you start going too fast.

Step 1: Look around. Make sure the area around your vehicle is clear of pedestrians or other moving vehicles. This requires you to scan the area all around your vehicle.

Turn to the left and look outside the driver's side window, even looking over your left shoulder if needed. Continue to scan the area until you are looking over your right shoulder.

Once you are sure the area is clear, you can proceed.

person turned around and looking over their right shoulder

Step 2: Look over your right shoulder. Keep your left hand on the middle of the steering wheel while while placing your right hand on the back of the passenger's seat, and look over your right shoulder.

If needed, you can apply the brake at any time during the reversing process and scan the area for foot or vehicle traffic again to make sure no one is coming.

Step 3: Steer the vehicle. Using your left hand only, steer the vehicle while you drive in reverse. Keep in mind that when driving in reverse, turning the steering wheel turns your vehicle in the opposite direction as it does when driving forward.

If you turn the front wheels to the right, the back of the vehicle turns left. The same goes for turning right while backing, which requires you to turn the steering wheel to the left.

Do not make any drastic turns while driving in reverse. Incremental moves of the steering wheel allow you to correct your course more easily than sharp turns. Use the brake as needed and avoid giving too much, if any, gas.

You can also turn and look over your left shoulder if needed. This allows you to get a better view when turning to the right. Just make sure to also look in the opposite direction to make sure nothing is coming.

Step 3: Stop the vehicle. Once you have reached your desired position, it is time to stop the vehicle. This simply requires you to use the brake. Once the vehicle is stopped, you can either put it in park, or into drive if you need to drive forward.

Driving in reverse gear is simple when you follow the steps provided above. As long as you maintain control of your vehicle and drive slowly, you should have no problem backing up your vehicle to where you need to park or stop. Ensure that your mirrors and brakes work properly by having one of the expert mechanics at YourMechanic perform a 75-point safety inspection on your vehicle.


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