A slap stick, or slap shifter, is an extremely useful way to shift an automatic transmission without simply letting the car do it for you. Besides that, it’s more fun too! This alternate method is primarily used in sportier cars and cars designed to drag in order to create a faster more driver-controlled shift, and is a very self-explanatory operation. To shift, you simply put the gear shift in the correct position, and then “slap” the lever forwards or backwards to shift up or down. A slap stick is more officially called a ratchet shifter. This particular type of quick shifting has a few slightly different styles. These include gate type shifters and detent shifters, but we won’t be getting into those. Ratchet shifters are the most common and also the easiest to operate without over-shifting into neutral. Here’s how the aftermarket ones are generally operated:
It really is that simple. The shift lever is just ratcheted forwards to go up a gear and backwards to retreat a gear. Of course this isn’t for you if you are wanting a nice relaxing drive, sipping on a McDonald’s coffee. It requires a bit more work than a normal automatic transmission, yet less than a standard because there is no clutch. Primarily used for racing, this alternate shifting method can give the driver a choice of exactly when the car shifts, unlike conventional shifting. It also prevents the car from slipping into reverse accidentally, and keeps the driver from shifting into neutral and over-revving.
This is the inner working of such a mechanism:
Although slap shifting has been around for a while, it is now starting to come as standard equipment in some cars. The standard ratchet shifters in newer cars today are not quite like the two you saw in the videos, but rather are an option that you can switch the car into. You can drive by letting the car shift for you, or you can let yourself become a reckless racer and switch the shifter over to “slap mode” and beginning slapping away. A contraption of this variety looks like this:
These are just a couple of examples, but basically the shift lever just has an extra spot to the side that it can slide over into. Once into that extra space, you can bump the lever forwards or backwards and it will shift gears just as the afore mentioned aftermarket ratchet shifters will do. It really just depends on the car, but these slap stick-optional gear shifts come standard in some vehicles today. As time goes on, I look for these awesome additions to become even more widely accepted as standard equipment in new cars, whether they are super sporty or not.
You’re now qualified to drive a slap shift…have fun! Special thanks to mrpowderkeg and slidinstang for providing the demonstration videos.