Introduction: How to Drive a Manual Transmission Car

Target Audience: Anybody who has a driving permit or full drivers license with prior knowledge of driving a car.

Caveat: You should probably take someone along with you that has knowledge of driving a manual. It will make your learning experience much more pleasant.

Step 1: Unlock the Car and Enter; Sit on the Left Side in the Driver’s Seat. Don’t Try and Start the Car.

Notice that there are three pedals at your feet now instead of two. The pedal farthest to the left is known as the “clutch” and it is pivotal in learning to drive a manual. [IMAGE]

The middle and right pedals are the familiar break, and gas. The gearshift lever should also look different. Instead of the normal Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Low gear choices, you have the choice to switch between reverse, and gears 1 through 5 (or six).

The clutch, when pressed, allows the driver to start the car, and switch between gears.

Step 2: Starting the Engine.

After you are comfortably seated with the pedals within reach of your feet, your parking break is on, and your mirrors properly adjusted, you are ready to start the car. To do this, press the clutch all the way down to the floor and turn the key. Then, BEFORE lifting your foot off the clutch, make sure the car is in the neutral position [IMAGE]. When the car is in the neutral it is safe to remove your foot from the clutch.

WARNING: If you remove your foot from the clutch with the car in gear, it will lurch forward and stall. This could be potentially dangerous to a car in front of you, a person in front of you, and it also is embarrassing to the driver. If you do stall, just repeat step 2, but remember to make sure the car is in neutral.

Step 3: Moving the Car From a Stop.

This is the most critical part of learning to drive a manual.

With the car on, and in neutral, press the clutch to the floor and hold it there [IMAGE of foot]. Next move the gearshift lever to the position of “1”, for first gear, keeping your foot on the clutch. [IMAGE of car in 1st gear]

Now, start to lift your foot off the clutch SLOWLY while at the same time pressing the gas pedal VERY LIGHTLY, bringing your cars RPMs up to around 1000. Be careful not to press too hard on the gas. Continue lifting your foot off the clutch while simultaneously, and very lightly pressing the gas. You should feel the car start to move forward. Finish lifting your foot off the clutch completely.

You are now in 1st gear and will be able to accelerate just by pressing the gas pedal. If you don’t want to accelerate, just don’t press the gas and the car will roll at about 5 to 10mph while you stay in 1st gear.

Remember: It is common to stall the car when trying this for the first time. If this happens, start over at Step 2.

Step 4: Accelerating and Changing Gears.

Now that you are in 1st gear and moving you will want speed up. Just imagine that you were stopped at a traffic light and are in a normal driving situation. You have to speed up to keep up with the flow of traffic.

Press the gas pedal so you feel the car accelerate. When the car’s RPM is at around 3000 [IMAGE of dashboard], and you are traveling about 15mph; remove your foot from the gas and press down the clutch again.

With the clutch pressed, take the gearshift lever and move it from the 1 position to the 2 position [IMAGE], indicating that you are in 2nd gear. Remove your foot from the clutch slowly while you give it a little gas. You will transition smoothly into second gear and should be traveling at around 25 to 30 mph.

To keep accelerating, just repeat this process through gears 3 [IMAGE] through 5. The faster you are going, the easier, and smoother it is to change gears.

REMEMBER, always remove your foot from the gas when changing gears, and YOU MUST make sure that the clutch is pressed all the way down.

Step 5: Slowing Down and Stopping.

If you are traveling in 3rd gear and need to slow down to make a turn, you must perform a downshift from 3rd to 2nd gear.

Remove your foot from the gas and press the clutch, move the gearshift lever from the 3 position to the 2 position. Remove your foot from the clutch slowly while pressing the break lightly, you will feel a more rapid deceleration than if you were to just push the break.

If you want to stop, press the clutch and move the car into neutral, then use the brake to slow yourself to a stop.