Have you ever wanted to learn how to drive ‘stick’; or maybe, the car you saved up for only comes with a manual transmission? Perhaps you rather look more ‘slick’ and have more experience by driving a manual rather than a plain old automatic? Driving a manual vehicle is not very difficult if you follow these steps: getting used to using the clutch-pedal and the gearbox, beginning to drive, and learning to shift while driving.
When first learning how to drive a standard (Manual) vehicle, you need to become accustomed to using the three foot- pedals, instead of using only two like you normally would when driving an automatic vehicle. The three pedals, from left to right, consist of the clutch, the brake, and the gas pedals. Aside from using only two of the pedals (Gas/Brake) when driving an automatic vehicle which shifts gears for you; the clutch pedal is used to engage/disengage the engine from the transmission.
The clutch’s function is to regulate the engines torque and transfer it to the transmission. When you depress the clutch pedal, you are typically disconnecting the wheels from the engine. A clutch allows the driver to smoothly engage the vehicle’s spinning engine to a non-spinning transmission by controlling the slippage between them. When learning to drive a manual-transmission vehicle, remember that you only use your left foot for the clutch pedal; as your right foot is used for only the gas and brake pedals.
Now that you understand the basic concepts of how a manual transmission works, the next step is to start the vehicle, in order to start the engine of a manual-transmission vehicle you must depress the clutch all the way, make sure the gearbox is in the neutral position, then twist the car key into the ‘start’ position to start the engine like you would in an automatic vehicle. After you have started-up the vehicle, you may release your foot from the clutch-pedal; it is important to make sure that the vehicles hand brake (e-brake) is engaged and that the gearbox is in neutral before eleasing the clutch-pedal, not doing so may result in stalling of the vehicle (which would require you to repeat the above steps).
Now that we’re ‘up and running’, it is now time to familiarize yourself with the location, as well as feel, of passing through the gears. If you’d prefer, you may learn to shift the gears without the car running (while having the clutch pushed-in). Or perhaps, you could familiarize yourself while sitting in the passenger seat, shifting gears with someone else driving the car and operating the clutch.
Be sure to place the ‘stick’ all the way fully into the gear—until it won’t go any more—but don’t force it. If you stop halfway, you will hear an incredibly unpleasant grinding sound when releasing the clutch which means your car is not properly in gear. The hardest and most intimidating part of driving a stick shift, for most beginners, is the process of actually getting the car moving in first gear. It may take some time in order to understand how far down you need to press down on the gas and how slowly you need to release the clutch-pedal in order for the first gear in your car to engage to get moving.
To prevent any frustration and self-inflicted brain trauma, it is critical that you accept the fact that you’re going to stall the car while learning how to drive stick-shift; like most beginners. Stalling is part of the ‘initiation’ process into the skilled ‘Brotherhood/Sisterhood’ of the ‘Stick-Drivers’. Although the bad news is that you are bound to stall several occasions; the good news is that once you get the car moving, shifting gears is an ease. Let’s get this show on the road! It is best to first learn on an empty parking lot.
You’re going to stall and lurch the car, so practice in an area where there aren’t many bystanders and other vehicles; and where you have a flat surface. Empty parking lots were ideal place to learn for majority of ‘us’ stick-shift drivers. Also, it may a good idea to have a buddy with you in the passenger seat, whom of which drives a manual so they can better your experience with the frustration. Press in the clutch and brake pedal, and start the car; be sure to check that the gearbox is in neutral and that the hand-brake (e-brake) is engaged.
Remember, that in order to ‘fire-up’ a vehicle with a manual transmission, it is required to always need to have the clutch pressed-in while you turn the key to start the car. You do not need to have your right- foot pressed down on the brake to start the car (like with an automatic transmission), although it’s a good habit of doing so. With the clutch-pedal pushed down with your left foot, and your right foot pressed on the brake; fire the car up, release the hand-brake (e-brake), shift into first, then apply a little pressure on the gas-pedal while ‘very-slowly’ releasing clutch. Houston, we have lift-off.