Step 4: Starting Off

The best place to try this is in an empty parking lot with very flat and level ground and plenty of room around the car. You should have somebody who knows how to drive the car bring you to a location like this. When you first sit in the driver's seat the engine should be off with the shift knob in neutral and the handbrake engaged. It's now time....

With your left foot, press the clutch pedal in all the way. Turn the ignition key clockwise all the way to "start" and hold for about one second until the the engine turns over. Release the key. If the shift knob is still in neutral you may release the clutch pedal at this time.

Have a look at the tachometer and take note of the RPM readout. It should be holding steady at around 700 to 1000 RPM, depending on the car.

Use your right foot to press and hold the brake pedal. Grasp the handbrake and pull up slightly while pressing the button with your thumb. When the button goes in, push the handbrake all the way down. Release the brake pedal and check to see if the car rolls. If the car stays put you can leave the pedal alone. If the car rolls you should find another spot.

Use your left foot to press and hold the clutch pedal all the way in.

Use your right hand to move the shift knob from neutral to first gear.

Slowly start to release the clutch pedal. At a certain point you will feel a vibration in the pedal and will see the RPM decrease slightly. This is the friction point where the clutch disc and the flywheel make first contact. The car may also start to creep forward. When you come to this point, don't release the clutch pedal any more.

Press the clutch pedal all the way in again and press the brake pedal to stop the car if necessary. Practice the previous step until you can quickly release the clutch pedal up to the friction point and hold it there. If you stall the engine, you must press the clutch pedal in all the way and turn the key.

Now lets get down to business. It's time to get the car moving up to a significant speed. To get the car moving, you're going to have to give it a little shot of gas. You should aim for an engine speed of about 1500 RPM when you reach the friction point. That means you'll have to press down on the gas pedal while releasing the clutch pedal at the same time.

Press the gas pedal in a TINY BIT while releasing the clutch to the friction point at the same time. This time the car will start moving forward when the friction point is reached. Hold the gas pedal where it is while you slowly release the clutch pedal out all the way.

Once the clutch pedal is out all the way and the car is moving you have just made a mockery of the hardest part of driving a standard shift... Starting off from a dead stop.

Now feel free to drive the car around a little bit. Accelerate a bit until the engine starts to make a lot of noise. As long as your speed stays between 10 and 30 KPH it should be just like driving an automatic (by that I mean you do not have to operate the clutch or change gears).

To come to a complete stop, use the brake pedal to slow down until your speed reaches zero. Before the car stops, you must press and hold the clutch pedal all the way. Repeat the previous two steps until you can confidently start off from a complete stop.

To park the car, move the shift knob into the neutral position and engage the handbrake by pulling it up all the way.

I actually lied a bit about the hardest part about driving a standard. The hardest part is to start off from a dead stop while rolling backwards down a hill. You have to find the friction point quickly because the whole time you're looking for it you'll be rolling backwards...possibly into the car behind you. Also, a bigger shot of gas is needed while you are releasing the clutch pedal past the friction point. Practice makes perfect...you should probably try this in a safe spot before you attempt it in traffic.