Easiest Way to Learn to Drive a Manual Transmission Vehicle
Hey guys! I am here today to teach you the easiest way to drive a manual transmission car. After studying this detailed guide, you will be able to start the car, get it moving, and then upshift into higher gears with ease. Don't get disappointed if you don't get it at first. It took me a while to get used to a stick shift, but it was well worth it!
Why Drive Manual?
So what are the benefits of driving a manual transmission? First, because you control the gear changes yourself, the car can run more economically and efficiently in manual than in automatic. Also, because you control the gear changes yourself, you can accelerate faster than in an automatic, and change gears whenever you want to.
Driving manual or stick-shift will be somewhat difficult at first, but within a week or two of following this guide and practicing, it will become second nature.
My Experience Learning How to Drive A Stick Shift
I had always wanted to drive a stick shift because it seemed very fun and cool. When I got my 2012 Mustang GT with a manual transmission, I was so excited about driving it. I looked up some guides on how to drive a manual car and didn't think it was going to be difficult to learn. How wrong I was. My 412-horsepower and 390-torque Coyote engine was a difficult car to drive. I stalled it left and right.
My problem may have been that all the guides I looked at on the internet were telling me to "slowly roll off the clutch." I was doing just that, but the ride was still jerky. Eventually I learned that you don't need to step on the gas to get the car moving. Depending on the speed at which the engine idles—that is, the speed it runs at when you're not pushing on the gas pedal—just releasing the clutch some will move the car to an extent.
I played with the clutch and got a feel for the friction point or biting point; that is, the point where the car is rolling, but the clutch is asking you to add more gas. At this point, you feel a little resistance, a little vibration from the clutch pedal; the car is asking for enough gas so that it can run when the clutch is fully out.
After incorporating what I had learned with this new-found technique, my first start was the smoothest one yet. I wished that someone had told me this tip earlier, instead of me wasting two days trying to "roll off the clutch."
Video on How to Drive a Manual Car
This video shows you the parts of the car you need to know, though it's a little sketchy on exactly how you let out the clutch pedal and push in the gas pedal.
Step-By-Step: How to Start a Manual Car
Here are the steps for starting up and getting to first gear.
1. Push in the Clutch and Start the Engine
Make sure you are in a secluded area where you can't hurt anyone. Make sure you have enough space in front of you so you can move at different speeds without running into something. You may stall a few times, but with time you will get it.
To start the car, push the clutch in all the way in, hold it down, and turn the key. Make sure the car is in neutral before releasing the clutch. The neutral slot is the empty space between the gears, represented by the bar in the middle of the "H." To see if you are in neutral, wiggle the stick gently to see if you can move it left and right; if you can, you are in neutral.
Now you are just sitting there with the engine running, doing nothing and going nowhere, which is fine for this first step.
2. With the Clutch In, Move the Stick to First
Now that the car is running, make sure your emergency brake (handbrake) is off. Since you are on flat ground, the car won't roll anywhere while you are figuring out what to do.
Now push the clutch in all the way, and put the car into first gear using the gear stick. You'll usually find first gear by pushing the stick left and then away from you. Keep the clutch in, or else you will stall the car!
3. Release the Clutch Till the Car Just Starts to Roll
Once you are in first gear, slowly release the clutch until you feel the car just start moving. Get a feel for this biting point because it will make learning to drive manual a lot easier. Practice until you can get to the point quickly.
4. Give it Some Gas
Once you have gotten a feel for the biting point, begin to slowly add some gas by pushing down the gas pedal a little bit. Give it enough gas to move the tachometer needle to like "1" or "2," that is, 1000 to 2000 rpms. If you give too little gas, the car will stall. If you give too much, you begin to burn the clutch, which is no big deal for a beginner, but over time can wear out the clutch.
5. When You Are Ready, Get Off the Clutch
Now that you are giving the car a little bit of gas, don't release the clutch fully just yet. Release it when you can feel the gears engage; it's a vibration you can sense through the sole of your foot. Once you get to that point, you can release the clutch, and drive around without using the clutch, just as you would in an automatic transmission car.
Congratulations! You have started a manual car! I found this technique of looking for the biting point made it easier for me to learn manual. Before, I tried the old-fashioned tip of "rolling off the clutch slowly," but never had a smooth startup. Once I came across this method, I learned how to drive very quickly! I believe this is truly the easiest way to drive a manual car.
I Stalled the Car! Now What?!
Calm down. The car is fine, you didn't hurt it. Just push the clutch back in and turn the key, and that will start the car back up. Make sure the car is in neutral, and go through the steps again.
So why did you stall? You put the car into first gear, but you didn't give the car enough gas to move. It wanted to move, but there wasn't enough gas, so it stalled. Whenever you feel like the car is going to stall, you can just push the clutch back in.
How to Shift Into Higher Gears
Shifting, in my opinion, is a lot easier than starting to move the car. Look at the "H" pattern on the gearshift knob to learn the different gears. You shift from 1, to 2, to 3, to 4, to 5, and then to 6, if you have a sixth gear.
How do you know when to shift? You can either look at the rpms or the speed you are going at. You should usually shift at 2.5k to 3k rpms. The speed to shift gears varies with the car you are driving, so look at the instruction manual to determine the speeds. The speed for each gear isn't as important for upshifting as it is for downshifting. Eventually you will be able to tell when to shift by the way the engine sounds and feels.
How do you shift into the higher gears? It is pretty much the same procedure as starting the car up, except it is much easier.
Let's say you are in first gear going into second. Follow these procedures.
- Put the clutch in, and then move the stick to second. On most cars, to go from first to second, you pull the stick towards you, that is, down to the bottom leg of the "H."
- Slowly release the clutch to the biting point, and then add a little bit of gas.
- Let the clutch all the way out and continue driving around.
Going from second to third and then fourth gear is the same process, and even easier. In order to make a totally smooth shift, you have to balance the gas and the clutch very well. Don't worry, this comes with practice.
This is my guide to the easiest way to drive a manual transmission. Keep practicing and practicing and you will get it! Have fun!