• To drive a "stick," or manual transmission, you must use both feet. Your left foot controls the clutch pedal and your right foot controls the gas and brake pedals. To start the car, press the clutch to the floor and keep your right foot on the brake. Turn the key in the ignition, keeping both feet on the pedals. Now, if the car is not already in first gear (or reverse if you will back up) put it there. First is usually in the top left corner of the gear box, but check on the actual stick shifter to make sure you have the correct gear. Now comes the hard part, or at least the part that takes a little getting used to. GENTLY give the car gas, and slowly take your foot off the clutch. Leaving your foot on the clutch will not engage the gear and flywheel, thus the car cannot move. Taking off the clutch too fast will cause the car to buckle and stall out, and you'll have to start it again. Once the car starts to move, you'll find that the engine will start to rev higher and higher. Depending on what type of car it is, you will need to change gears when the engine reaches a certain number of RPM's. If you are not sure which number to shift on, try anywhere from 2,500 - 3,000 RPM's. To do this, push the clutch all the way to the floor with your foot off the gas, and change the gear. Then, give it gas as you ease off the clutch. If the car has no "pick-up" in the next gear, you probably shifted too early. If the engine is making a loud, high-pitched sound, you probably shifted too late. Just your left foot leaves the clutch, you need to give the car gas. And when you push down on the clutch, you need to take your foot off the gas.
  • A stick shift is different from an auto in several ways, and it takes a lot of practice to learn to drive one smoothly. This is a pretty long explanation, but I'm trying to cover all the essentials without being to complicated. First you need to understand that in a stick shift, the driver must manually change gears. That's what the gearstick is for. It will not move just up and down like the shifter in an auto. It will move side to side, and up and down. The side to side movement in the middle is neutral, and when you move the shifter up or down from the middle, you are selecting a gear. -------------------------- GEARS: Most modern stick shifts have 4, 5 or 6 forward gears, and 1 reverse gear. If you look on the head of the gearstick you'll see a diagram that shows the layout of the gears. The most common is something like this: 1 . 3 . 5 |__|__| This area in here is 'neutral'. |__|__| 2 . 4 . R The neutral area is spring loaded to the centre (between 3rd and 4th gear). If you let go of the gearstick from anywhere in the neutral zone, it will return to the centre. This can be very useful to learn where the gears are. Push to the left of the centre and you can then push up for first gear, or down for second. Push up from the centre position and you have third. Down is fourth. etc. When a gear is selected, however, the stick will stay in that position until you pull it back into neutral. NOTE: There is NO 'park' position in a stick shift. You MUST put the park brake on every time you park your car, or else it could roll away. The gears are designed to be selected one after the other as you pick up speed. For example, 1st gear will only go up to about 20mph (35kph) before you have to shift up to 2nd, whereas 5th gear is for highway cruising, above 50mph (80kph). It is important to select the right gear for the speed you're going. The gears overlap, which means that two or three gears will allow you to do the same speed. What varies then is your engine revs. For example, at 40mph (65kph), you could drive in either 2nd, 3rd or 4th gear. * In 2nd gear, your engine revs would be up near the redline (the maximum revs your engine can safely do), but you'll be making lots of power - so it would be good for hard accelerating to overtake. You don't want to drive with very high revs for too long - it's not good for the car. * 3rd gear would put your revs right in the midrange, which still gives some power, but you can drive for longer like that - so it would be good for climbing a shallow hill where you need a bit extra power. * 4th gear would put you at around 2,000 revs, which is good for cruising. The engine is turning over nice and easy, so your gas mileage / fuel economy would be at its best. However, when your engine revs are down low like that, your engine isn't making as much power, so it won't accelerate as quickly, and may even lose speed on a hill. * If you went up to 5th gear, the engine revs would be too low and the engine would struggle. You couldn't go to 1st gear because the revs would go up into the redline and you'd damage your engine. In a stick shift car you will often see a second dial next to your speedo. This is your tachometer - it shows you how many revs the engine is doing. It also has a 'red' zone marked on it that shows the safe revs you can do. 2,000 revs is usually a good cruising level, so for highway driving or easy driving along a fast-flowing city street, pick a gear that keeps the revs around that level. 3,000 - 4,000 revs is good for keeping up a bit of power while still cruising. If you're driving through hilly country, or if you're towing, or if you want a bit of extra power. 4,000 revs up to the redline is where the engine makes most of its power, but it also uses the most fuel and also causes the most wear on the engine. It's best not to spend too long in this zone. This is best for times where you need hard acceleration, such as overtaking or very steep hills. If you find your revs are too high, change up to the next gear. If your revs are too low for what you want, change down a gear. You can skip a gear if needed (example - shift from 4th straight down to 2nd if you were cruising and suddenly needed acceleration). To select reverse, the car must be stationary. The way it is designed, reverse will not engage when the car is moving forward. You will just get a loud grinding noise. That is basically gears in a nutshell. Hopefully it is simple and clear enough to understand. --------------------------------- Now for the CLUTCH. The clutch is what connects and disconnects the engine from the gearbox (and from there the rest of the car). When the clutch pedal is pushed down, the engine is disengaged from the gearbox and it can turn freely. When the clutch pedal is released, the engine is locked to the gearbox. When the engine turns, the gearbox has to turn. Because of this, a stick shift does not have the ability to sit still while in gear with the engine running, unless the clutch pedal is pushed down, or the gearstick is in neutral, or both. The clutch engages and releases in a gradual motion as the pedal is moved. It is important to learn to move the clutch pedal smoothly. There is a point in the movement of the clutch where it just grabs enough to start moving the car without putting much load on the engine. This is called the balance point. *** The first thing to practice is finding this balance point. * With the handbrake on, push the clutch in and then start the car. Keep the clutch depressed. * Select 1st gear. * Now, slowly release the clutch until you feel a point where the car tugs forward gently and the engine starts to labour - you'll hear the revs drop. This is your balance point. *Push the clutch back down. You can repeat this until you feel comfortable with it. Finding the balance point is important for the technique of taking off from a standstill. Now you might want to practice your take-offs. If possible, find a quiet street or empty parking lot to practice this. * With the handbrake on, push the clutch in and start the car. As before, keep the clutch in and select 1st gear. * Now, with your foot on the brake, release the park brake. * Keeping your right foot on the brake, slowly release the clutch until you find your balance point. * When you find your balance point, gently take your foot off the brake. GENTLY apply a little bit of gas. * Slowly release the clutch all the way. The car should smoothly take off and idle along under the power of the engine. * To stop: push the clutch all the way in and then smoothly brake until the car is stopped. With practice, you should get it pretty quickly. Don't be discouraged if you bunny hop the car or stall it. It happens to everybody when they're learning. In stop-start traffic, you need to be able to smoothly take-off and stop repeatedly. Once you have the knack of it, though, you shouldn't have any problems. --------------------------------- Now comes the part where the rubber meets the road: starting off, changing gears, and safely stopping again. NOTE: If at any time you need to perform an emergency stop, just jam the brakes on. Don't worry about the clutch or the gears - just STOP. The car will stall, but you can start it again. * Start the car and take off. Now, accelerate until the tacho reads about 4,000 rpm. * Quickly and smoothly push the clutch all the way to the floor and release the gas. * Move the gearstick down from 1st to 2nd. * Quickly and smoothly release the clutch. Once the clutch is fully released, you can gently add gas again. The car should accelerate smoothly. If you do this right, there should be no jerking. * To stop: push the clutch in all the way and brake gently to a stop. Obviously you can practice going up to higher gears as you get more confident. ---------------------------------- Shifting down gears: * Get up to 3rd gear at about 2,000 rpm. This should put you at about 20 - 25 mph. * Now, push the clutch in quickly and smoothly. * Shift the gear stick from 3rd back to 2nd. * Smoothly release the clutch (not too quickly this time). The engine revs will be higher than before (probably around 3,500 - 4,000 rpm.) * When ready, depress the clutch and brake to a stop. ---------------------------------- Engine braking. One phenomenon you can use with a stick shift that you can't with an auto is engine braking. Just as when you get on the gas, the engine wants to accelerate, when you get off the gas, the engine wants to slow down. Because the engine is directly linked to the gearbox, the car will want to slow down as well. If you are wanting to slow down, or need to keep your speed steady on a downhill (without riding your brakes), you can use engine braking. *** To come to a stop using engine braking: NOTE: if you need to stop in a hurry, jam on the brakes. * From 3rd or 4th gear, take your foot off the gas. The car will begin to slow down. * Shift down one gear (from 4th to 3rd, or 3rd to 2nd). Release the clutch smoothly. The engine revs will rise, and you'll feel the car decelerate. You will need to brake gently while the clutch is pushed in. * Shift down one gear at a time until you're in 2nd. (You don't need to go down to 1st.) Let the engine revs die until they're down to 2,000. * Push the clutch in and brake to a stop. You have just successfully used engine braking to slow down. Remember, you can't stop the car unless you push in the clutch. This is when you use the brake.. If you need to slow down quicker than the engine braking allows, just dab the brakes gently. The effect of the brakes will add to the engine braking. *** To use engine braking on a downhill: * Get off the gas. Shift down one gear. You'll feel the car fighting against the urge to speed up. * Ideally you want to have your revs around 3,500 to 5,000. Shift down gears until you get to a gear that gives you this engine rpm at the speed you want to do. * If the car still wants to pick up speed rapidly, you are in too high a gear. What you need to do is slow the car down with the brakes and change down gears until you get to a point where your speed stays steady (or only slowly increases) without braking. * If the car does still slowly speed up, just dab the brakes gently to scrub off the speed, then release them. Again, if you need to stop in a hurry... hit the brakes. * When you no longer need engine braking, simply shift back up into a gear to give cruising revs, and off you go. Using Engine braking in this manner lets you negotiate steep hills without burning out your brakes trying to keep your speed down. ------------------------------------- These are just some simple principles of driving a stick shift. Obviously you need to observe all your normal safe driving habits like you would in an auto. After a while, though , the added skills will become second nature. I hope that this hasn't been confusing or complicated. -------------------------------------- In reply to seve7t, no it's not incorrect. Even large V8 engines are not designed to run at very low rpm. Their cam profiles, fuel and injection maps are really optimised from 2000 rpm up to their peak power, which is usually between 4,000 and 7,000 rpm - depending on redline. The main difference is that you may not need to shift down as much for hills or overtaking due to the higher torque of a bigger engine... however on the opposite side of that, most cars with large V8's are pretty beefy themselves, and are fairly conservatively tuned which means that a well-performing 4 cylinder in a small car would almost keep up with them. The sheer mass of many larger engined cars often negates their power and torque advantage.
  • This is how I learned. As always, looking back, I see there are others ways to. I will assume "stick shift" to include all cars that are not automatic (three on the tree, , and vehicles not available to the US) If you are a teen trying to drive your parents car without their permission,(like I was) and you are doing this alone, I would recommend a large open space. Large empty parking lots are fine and hard packed open dirt field is the best. This protects the car from errors. Always were a seat-belt and good weather is helpful. You will be done when the driving feels right.
  • Although, there are already some good answers, I felt the need to copy and paste this from another site. (I'm too lazy to write it myself) I also found it quite useful that I understood the clutch mechanism, transmission, and engine (how everything actually worked under the hood) before I started driving at a young age. This is why I included some links about the above and even some links to videos on driving a stick... I wanted to mention more advanced things like downshifting, heel n toe, double clutching, and left foot braking but the videos I found do a pretty good job. The old-time rallye drivers were the real pros. Driving newer cars is much easier with paddle shifters and only needing to clutch for first gear. "Learning to drive a stick shift isn't easy for most people, but with time and practice it becomes second nature. Steps: 1. Look at the floorboard; you'll see three pedals. From left to right, they are: clutch, brake, gas. 2. Study the simple diagram on the top of the gearshift, which will show you where the gears are. In most new cars, this will look like a three-legged H. First, third and fifth gears are at the tops of the legs; second, fourth and reverse gears are at the bottoms. The crossbar of the H is neutral. 3. Make sure the parking brake is engaged and the car is on a flat surface in an area where you have plenty of room. 4. Press down on the clutch pedal and then move the gearshift into the neutral position. 5. Start the car. 6. Keeping the clutch pedal down, put the car into first gear by moving the gearshift to the top-left position. 7. Apply the foot brake and release the parking brake. 8. Release the foot brake when you're ready to start moving. 9. Begin to release the clutch pedal slowly; when you hear or feel the engine begin to slow down, slowly press down on the gas pedal as you continue to release the clutch. The car will start to move forward. 10. Accelerate until the car has reached about 3,000 rpm, then take your foot off the gas, press down on the clutch pedal, and pull the gearshift directly down through neutral to second gear. Be sure to pull the gearshift down until it can't go any farther. 11. Release the clutch pedal gently, simultaneously pressing down gently on the gas pedal. 12. Repeat the shifting process each time you hit 3,000 rpm until you're driving at the appropriate speed. (Third gear is up and to the right; fourth gear is all the way down from there; fifth gear is up to neutral, right and then up again.) 13. Downshift by releasing the gas pedal when you want to decrease your speed. Press down on the clutch and move the gearshift through neutral into the next-lower gear (move down only one gear at a time). Once you're in the lower gear, release the clutch slowly and brake as you do so. 14. Stop the car by downshifting to second gear and applying the brakes. Apply the clutch just before the car stops. Don't downshift into first. 15. Drive in reverse by following the same steps you would for starting in first gear. The reverse gear engages more quickly than first gear, however, so be sure to release the clutch slowly and begin to press the gas pedal as soon as the car begins to move. Tips: When you park your car, leave it in gear and set the parking brake. That way, it won't start rolling as soon as you put it in neutral to start again. You'll know you're in the right gear for your speed if the engine is running smoothly. If it's coughing and sputtering, shift to a lower gear. If the engine noise pitch is too high, shift to a higher gear. Avoid coasting with the clutch all the way down (called "riding the clutch"), as this will cause needless wear and tear on the clutch. When stopped at a traffic light, put the gearshift into the neutral position and release the clutch rather than sitting with the clutch engaged. The best way to start out is to find a patient friend or relative who knows how to drive a stick shift, and practice with him or her in a large, empty parking lot where you can practice safely. Warnings: Repeated jerking, stalling, grinding, lurching and similar mishaps can wear on the clutch assembly. Be kind to your car'ask for help if you're having difficulty learning."
  • You find a very good friend or relative. go out in the boondocks and let your friend or relative teach you. all the books in the world cannot teach you to drive an automobile. practical experience from a licensed friend is where its at. i guess 90% of the population has learned to drive this way. good luck. end
  • I sell cars and have had customers ask how they can learn. I tell them that most driver training schools do not teach how to drive a stick shift owing to the economics of having a manual transmission car in their inventory. The best resource is a friend or relative who will teach you. I learned to drive from my dad who had a car with a stick shift. Once you learn you do not forget. It is a nice skill to have. A manual transmission will give you better gas milage. Depending on where you drive a stick shift could be better option. I loved to drive a stick shift in hilly windy roads without traffic like Vermont. When I moved to New Jersey I got tired of shifting in traffic so I switched to automatic.
  • Here's a video that you can watch.
  • Being from the UK , most cars are stick shift. This vid is pretty helpful to give you the idea of what you will need to do , but it does seem to make it somewhat of a complex task. But it actually is not, also not all cars have a rev counter in them , so you actually learn when to change by the sound of the engine . Have to say when I go to the states , I love driving an Auto car , gear changing is really for the petrol (gas) heads .
  • I must say there are some very good and detailed information on this subject!
  • thank you for the informative discussion going on here. and i do drive a stick automobile and it's fun and once you have learned to drive manual car it is very easy for you to drive a automatic car.
  • I drive a 5 speed Ford F150. I just got it a couple of months ago. Before then, I had not driven a manual trans. vehicle in years. I was a bit rusty, but it all came back. One gnawing question that I have is....Do you, or do you not press the clutch in all the way to the floorboard when shifting? I keep reading conflicting answers....also, if I'm at an intersection with a steep incline, I do keep the clutch engaged while in first at a light so I don't roll back and hit the person behind me. I'd rather pay for a new clutch instead of a lawsuit, and damages.
  • Frequently.
  • When I stated driving the closest thing to an automatic transmission was Fluid drive. I learned to drive with a "standard" transmission and also had to learn how to double clutch some pickups I drove. Driving a standard is just a matter of timing between clutch and accelerator peddles. It just takes a little practice.
  • You already have the technical data now you just have to practice.

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