Introduction: How to Drive a Manual Transmission

Picture of How to Drive a Manual Transmission

Not many people nowadays do not know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle. Some may think that it is too difficult to learn, but all you need to learn to drive a stick shift is a little bit of patience and a little bit of time. Although it can be frustrating at first, driving a stick shift can help prepare people for future jobs (like driving truck or being a valet), and it can come in handy in emergency situations when a manual transmission vehicle is the only vehicle available. Even if learning to drive a stick shift isn’t necessary, it is an exhilarating experience that will help drivers become one with their car.

Step 1: What You Need!

Picture of What You Need!

1) A car with a manual transmission!

Step 2: Learning the New Parts of a Manual Transmission

Picture of Learning the New Parts of a Manual Transmission

Since you have already learned to drive an automatic, there are only a couple of things in the car that should look new. First there is the gear shifter. This is what is used to, well, shift between gears. This can be moved, up, down, left and right to change the gears of the car. The clutch is to the left of the brake pedal. This is pushed down when putting the car in and out of gear.

Step 3: Starting From a Stop

First, start by pushing the clutch in and moving the gear shifter to first gear. (It is important to remember to push the clutch in all the way before shifting into any gear because failing to do so will make the gears grind which, of course, is not a good thing.) Once the car is in first gear, give it a little gas and slowly let off the clutch. The car will stall if not enough gas is given, or if the clutch is let off too fast. Conversely, if too much gas is given the tires will spin. The same applies to going in reverse. Starting from a stop is by far the hardest part of driving a manual as it takes a lot of time and effort to do consistently, but once it is mastered everything else will be a breeze. (Instructions on starting from a stop begin at 2:16 in the video)

Step 4: Shifting

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Once starting from a stop is mastered, it is time to learn to change gears. To change gears properly, accelerate in first gear until the RPM gauge hits the 3 (3000 RPMs). Then, remove the right foot from the gas, push the clutch all the way in, and move the shifter to second gear. Once this is done, the clutch can be let off again and the gas should be applied, just like in the last step. This process is to be repeated each time the RPM gauge hits 3. When slowing down, downshifting is a great option, but putting the car in neutral applying the brake will work as well.

Step 5: Stopping

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Stopping in a car with a manual transmission is a pretty basic thing to do. It can be done by downshifting through the gears (besides first gear) to use the engine's braking capabilities while using the brakes. Right as you are about to come to a stop, put the car into neutral to avoid stalling. It is recommended that you learn to downshift, but some people just put the in neutral in order to brake.

Step 6: Don't Be Discouraged!

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Driving a manual can be tough at first, and it can get frustrating, but the only way to get better at is to practice. You will get it eventually, and once you get it, your driving will become a lot more fun!

Comments

YouNeverKnowItUntil (author)2016-06-17

Some kids in my neighborhood kept parking on my hill and tried to hill start their scion. It squealed the tires every time.

YouNeverKnowItUntil (author)2016-06-17

7400 rpm

randomprojectguy (author)2016-03-25

3000 rpms is a little high for some cars mine likes to shift at 2000 but every car has a different "sweet spot" just have to gets used to it. also a good tip don't use the clutch and gas to hold your car at a stop it will be very $$costly when you burn out the clutch.

antonio81 (author)2016-02-26

In Italy we use only manual transmission and it's very easy to use it.

SanderV5 (author)2016-02-26

"When slowing down, downshifting is a great option, but putting the car in neutral applying the brake will work as well."

Putting the car in neutral will work, but it isn't a good idea. In case of an emergency you may need engine power to get out of the emergency.

I never (and then I mean realy NEVER) put the car in neutral when slowing down.

Only at an complete stop (like at an traffic light) I put it in neutral.

(22 years manual driving experience in cars & trucks (european licence class B & C)

kode1303 (author)2016-02-26

@livichris: I live in Denmark, Europe, where nine in ten cars are manuals. I have driven manual cars for 25 years myself, and I must say that I, and all I know, press the clutch and brake instead of going down through the gears. There is absolutely no reason to do that in a normal car.

livichris (author)2016-02-25

when stopping you should come back down the gearbox 5-4-3-2 not 1 though and use the inertia of the engine to brake. you shouldn't just step on the clutch and brake at the same time.

IF I was hauling a 50k load behind the tractor, I would step down through the shift pattern and take advantage of the engine braking especially when equipped with a Jake Brake. But it is totally not necessary with a 3 cylinder Geo metro, with disc brakes in the front. If your in an area of high traffic density, you won't always have time to step down the gear rack before you have to stop.

you'll also wear your clutch release bearing prematurely if you're stepping on the clutch every time you break. trust me, this isn't the way to break in a manual.

Coltcollins (author)2016-02-26

I have been driving a standard since I was like 7 and the last time I checked 3000 rpm is almost redlining in some cars 2000 to 2500 is plenty

Phil B (author)2016-02-24

I was raised on a farm. We learned early how to drive a tractor, which also uses a clutch and a manually operated gear shift. Cars and tractors do not shift or drive identically, but tractors are a good learning step. I have taught three people to drive a manual transmission car. The mistake most make is releasing the clutch too quickly when the vehicle begins to move. That is the time to slow the release of the clutch and add a little more gasoline to the engine. With practice, a new driver can shift as smoothly or more smoothly than an automatic transmission. When the vehicle slows or needs more pulling power, shift down a gear. A good trick on snow is to start with 2nd gear rather than low gear. Each vehicle is a little different. But, in a short time you can tell when to shift by the feel and the sound of the engine. A big parking lot is a good place to practice with a coach.

wold630 (author)2016-02-24

Great tips, thank you!

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