How to Drive a Stick Shift

It is a rarity these days to find someone who knows how to drive a car with a manual transmission. People say it is too difficult or not worth their time when there are automatics out there. However, all it takes is practice, patience and dedication to learn to actually enjoy driving a stick. Unlike a car with an automatic transmission where there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, a car with a stick shift also has a clutch, which is on the floor to the left of the brake.

To begin, have the car in neutral before starting it. With the right foot on the brake, disengage the clutch by pressing it to the floor with the left foot then turn the key. Without pressing the clutch, the car will not start. Holding the brake while doing this will ensure the car will not roll away. While holding the clutch firmly against the floor, move the shifter into first gear. There is usually a diagram on the knob of the gearshift indicating where each gear is. Next, comes the hardest part of driving a clutch. Very slowly, release the clutch while gently pressing the gas pedal. If engaged too quickly, the car will lurch forward and shut off. But, if too much gas is given (a common mistake), the car will roar loudly and the distinct smell of a burning clutch will fill the air. However, if done properly, you will “feel” the clutch engage and the car will slowly move forward in first gear. As a rule of thumb, shift gears about every 10 miles per hour. For example, use first gear for slow speeds of 0-10 mph, second gear 10-20 and so on.

Another method to know when to shift gears is using the tachometer, or rpm gauge. Typically, you would shift to the next highest gear as the tachometer nears 3000 rpm. Resist the temptation to rev the car’s engine while the clutch is disengaged. Though it may sound cool to rev the car, it is not a good idea to let the rpm get to high, because this could damage the engine.

When you need to come to a stop at a stop sign, traffic light, etc., disengage the clutch and shift into neutral. Let out, or engage the clutch, then use the brake and coast to a complete stop. If you stop on a hill, do not panic. A clutch plus a steep hill can be a nightmare for drivers learning to drive with a clutch. This is because gravity takes over and when the clutch is disengaged, the car rolls backwards. This might seem like a scary experience (especially if another car is stopped behind you), but remain calm, casually put the car into first gear, engage the clutch and continue driving.

Remember, every stick shift is a bit different. Some have five speeds, some have six, and some large trucks have 18 gears, but the idea is still the same. Driving a stick can and will be extremely difficult and frustrating, yet, if mastered can be quite enjoyable. Do not give up. Take it one gear at a time. Patience, practice, and dedication are the main keys in the mastery of the stick shift.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *