Impress Your Friends, Learn to Drive a Manual Transmission




When I was first learning to drive my parents wouldn't let me do so unless I was driving a manual transmission, or stick shift vehicle. While it can be frustrating at first it can very easily become second nature and in turn is a very useful skill to have. It has been said that once you are able to maneuver a manual transmission correctly you can get behind the wheel of any existing motor vehicle. So few people are able to drive a manual these days, it is a skill that has gotten lost in translation and I can't imagine why. It will make you a better and more aware driver and like many skills all it takes is a little practice.
In order to learn this skill one must have a valid driver's license. For some drivers it this skill could be picked up in as quickly as a days practice, for others it may take a bit longer to figure out. But no worries, when broken down, the process is easy to understand and then all that is necessary is correct execution.

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Step 1: Understanding the Pedals

There are two main differences between the passenger location of a manual operated vehicle and one that is automatic. The first one that most people notice is the addition of a third pedal. The far right pedal is the gas, and to the left of that is the brake, just like in an automatic transmission. The left most pedal is called the clutch and that one is the basis for a great many of the steps in driving a manual correctly.

Step 2: Understanding the Gear Shifter

The second difference between the two types of vehicles is the gear shifter which is located on the right hand side of the driver's seat. This piece of equipment is what gives a manual transmission the nickname of a "stick shift" and it works hand in hand with the clutch pedal. you'll notice that the stick is somewhat similar to one in an automatic car except instead of having a simple up and down motion along with D, N, and R symbols, it can go a lot of different directions and has will have the numbers 1 through 5 or 6 depicted, as well as reverse. These numbers indicate what gear the vehicle is in. When the stick is located in the horizontal space between the numbers the car is in neutral.

Step 3: Lets Get Going!

Before we get the car rolling we should take some time to talk through how it gets done. It should be pointed out that each and every manual transmission has a different feel to it, some clutch pedals may need to be pushed in further than others and some may seem more clingy. The first thing that should be discussed is stopping. The brake pedal can be used no matter what gear you are in, but it is important that the clutch pedal be pressed and held prior.
In order to get her going it is all about balance. Firstly press the clutch pedal in to its fullest extent and slide the gear shifter into first gear. Now simply think of the clutch and gas pedal as being on a pulley system, as the clutch gets released the gas will need more pressure. CAUTION: If too much gas is given while the clutch is still in the engine will rev and waste gas without going anywhere (also it will give off a horrid smell), if the clutch is relieved too fast without any gas the vehicle will stall and need to be turned over again.

Step 4: Shifting Gears

After the car is in motion the most difficult step is complete! While the vehicle is moving it is important to obey the rules of the road and street signs. Actually it has been statistically proven that those operating manual transmissions get in fewer accidents. Since they are considered more "active" drivers they are more aware of their surroundings.
When in motion there is one other action that must be performed that is different from an automatic and that is the shifting of gears. Every time a gear needs to be changed the clutch pedal should be pushed in thus freeing the gear shifter for movement, after being placed in the proper gear the clutch pedal can be released again.
For your most basic guidelines the gears should be used as follows: first, from zero to ten miles per hour, second, from ten to twenty mph, third, twenty to thirty mph, fourth, thirty to forty, and fifth for forty and above. It is possible to be in second gear when traveling only five miles per hour or to be in third gear at thirty-five miles per hour but it is best when using these increments of ten.

Step 5: Coasting and Maneuvering on Hills

Another advantage to choosing a manual transmission over automatic is the use of less gasoline. This is because each time the clutch pedal is in no gas is used. So, when rolling downhills or approaching a stop sign one must only press in the clutch and release the gas pedal, this allows for more controlled driving and will save money and tank fill-ups in the long run.
However one disadvantage to using a stick shift vehicle is its difficulty level on terrain. An automatic vehicle will catch itself if it begins to roll backwards but a manual will let gravity take over when the brake is released. In order to avoid this and a potential collision with a vehicle behind you all that needs to be done is exactly how what it took to get the car moving in the first place. Perfect balance between the clutch and gas pedal. This will keep you in a stand still until the light turns green, then simply use the pulley system technique and give it some more gas.

Step 6: Congrats

Now you know what you're doing! This has been a basic get-to-know-the-skill tutorial. Remember your abilities can always improve with practice. Congratulations now go be the best driver you can be!

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    8 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 5

    The tips you give here are VERY DANGEROUS.

    First, if you press the clutch, your engine's RPM will decrease to idle. The engine's pressure (to put it simply) powers the power steering and braking. Normally, the pressure of the engine idling will be enough to support the power braking well, but you might find braking easier when you let the car coast in fifth gear.
    The dangerous part here is that your engine won't get forced to rev by the car but it will become possible that the engine stops during coasting with the clutch pressed. If it does, braking will become VERY hard. So don't make it a habit to coast with the clutch pressed.

    Also, using your clutch and gas pedal to stay still when on an inclined road, will mean that the clutch plates are sliding over eachother and generating a lot of heat which means they will wear very fast. So USE THE HANDBRAKE when stopping on a hill.

    A useful tip when having to slow down is to shift down and let the engine rev a little extra, thereby slowing you down. This will save brake pads. Trucks even use a valve in the exhaust to be able to slow down even more by partly blocking the exhaust.

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    how does an engine stop while coasting? if the engine stops something is really wrong with the car.probably idle throttle amount.....

    transforming vintageParasoar

    Reply 4 years ago

    down shifting can be a dangerous way to slow. yes it does slow you, but the on the other side it causes your engine to go into higher rpms sending more torque to your wheels. on wet and icy roads this can spell disaster so use caution

    MarojeStransforming vintage

    Reply 3 years ago

    There is no torque if your engine is not under the actually is under the torque of the spining wheels and therefore very efficiently and gently braking the car without using almost any gas or brake, how would you drive on a wet and icy road? and especially brake....


    8 years ago on Introduction

    you definitely hit on the basics of driving a manual shift but if your vehicle is running properly you shouldn't need to give extra gas to start off unless your going up an incline. Personally the only time I touch the clutch is starting off and when coming to a stop and occasionally when downshifting if I've misjudged the engine speed. Great pictures and a well presented tutorial/ible

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    so you shift without a clutch?!?!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    i taught my girlfriend on a motorcycle. its easier to get use to a clutch with a sequential transition. but we will move her on to a car when i get a new car with a manual transition. i had to buy a automatic because of a motorcycle wreck


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I like how you included the numbers over the "stick".