Engineering Explained does a great job of taking complex subjects in the automotive realm and breaking them down in a way common gearheads can understand. Not that shifting gears with a manual transmission is difficult, but those new to the process of physically swapping cogs seldom have a deeper understanding of what all is taking place, and more importantly, how to minimize wear while maximizing performance. Also, there are the obsessive-compulsive drivers among us who shudder at the mere thought of not upshifting or downshifting in a proper numerical order.
To set everyone’s mind at ease, of course you can skip gears – either upshifting or downshifting – without doing damage. In fact, for decades Chevrolet has forced Corvette and Camaro drivers to jump from first to forth gear while driving slow, all in the name of better fuel and emissions ratings. As the video explains, the entire premise of a manual transmission is to allow drivers to choose any gear, at any time, within the engine's rpm range.
But here’s the thing – the more you use something, the more wear it receives. That goes for your shoes, your living room couch, and yes, your transmission. Skipping gears isn’t a problem, but you need to take extra care to minimize the extra wear that can happen when jumping between larger ratios. You do that by rev matching your engine speed to the appropriate gear, and yes, it takes a bit of practice to get it right. In short, if you upshift from second to sixth, let the engine rpm come down before engaging the gear for a smooth transition. Do the opposite for downshifts – blip the throttle while the car is in neutral to raise engine before going into the shorter gear.
Of course, you can do all of this without rev matching, but your clutch and gear synchronizers will be subjected to a bit more wear than normal. And this doesn’t take into account a bonehead move like trying to grab first gear at 70 miles per hour, but that's not a problem with the transmission as much as it is the loose nut behind the wheel.
We could go on about this, but the video should answer all your questions. If it doesn't, hit us up in the comments. We probably have a few witty, sarcastic, or possibly even informative responses ready to go.