How To Drive A Stick Shift

Looking for a detailed and step-by-step instruction on how to drive a stick shift? This article will help you out.

Driving with a stick shift is a good skill to have. Somehow it’s like speaking a second language. More importantly, some really cool cars are available only with the manual transmission. They range from the sexy bombs like Aston Martin V12 and 2012 Porsche Cayman R to vintage cars that require stick shifting. This article thus will provide you with everything thing you need to know about how to drive a stick shift.

Step 1: Get into the basics of things

The first thing you’ll notice is that a manual car has 3 pedals instead of 2. The brake and the gas are in the same place, but the pedal on the left is called the clutch. In an automatic, the car changes gears for you, hence the term automatic. But in a manual, this is what you’ll be using to change between gears.

The next thing you’ll see is the gear stick. Most cars will come in either 5 or 6 speeds. Before you start driving, you should play around with the gear stick a little and make sure you know where all the gears are. All cars will have the same basic setup with first gear to the left, and up second to the left and down, third in the middle and up fourth is in the middle and down, fifth is right and up and sixth is right and down. Many cars reverse in different positions, which is why it is best to know your car before you attempt to drive it.

Lastly, when the gearstick is in the middle, it is in neutral. It is important to remember that the only time your car can come to a complete stop without stalling is when you’re in neutral or when the clutch is pushed all the way in. Practice shifting through the gears with the clutch pushed in before you actually attempt driving.Another thing you’ll notice is the parking brake. Unlike in an automatic, manual cars don’t have a gear for parking so to park this car all you need to do is pull the parking brake up and for extra safety, you leave it in first gear.


Step 2: Start driving

Make sure your seat adjusted so that you are in a comfortable position and you can push the clutch all the way in and make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted as well. To turn on your car, you need to push in the clutch all the way in and either push the button or turn the key. Some cars will actually require you to push both the clutch and the brake to get it started.

First, release the parking brake and to back up you’ll push in the clutch and put the shifter in reverse. Now you slowly let go of the clutch until you feel the car starting to move. At that point, you hold it right where it is and very lightly tap on the gas to get you moving a bit more. If you feel you’re going too fast, push the clutch back in and just feather it out slowly again.

When you’re driving in reverse, unless for some weird reason you decide to have a backward race with someone you don’t ever want to fully let go of the clutch because that’ll cause you to launch backward with much more force than you would ever want to.


Step 3: Get going in first gear

Before you start trembling in fear, don’t worry because I’ve got a secret to make it very easy for you. Make sure you’re in an empty parking lot with lots of space to practice. Push in the clutch and put the car in first gear. Now without touching the gas, slowly let go of the clutch.

At a certain point the car will start to move forward, and at that point, you hold the clutch in place. That point where you are holding the clutch is called the catch or the bite point. This is where the clutch engages the transmission.

What you want to do next is give it just a little bit of gas, keeping your RPMs around 1800 and the car will start to move a lot faster. Now you slowly let go of the clutch until your foot is completely off of it.

The key here is to let go slowly. If you let go too fast the car will jerk, you might stall. On the other hand, don’t give it too much gas because then you’ll launch the car. To prevent this from happening, the ideal RPMs would be around 1800 until you fully let go of the clutch.

Once your foot is completely off the clutch and you’ve got the car moving, you should just cruise around the parking lot in first gear stopping and starting until you get the feel of the catch point. Remember, this is the hardest part about driving stick so be sure to practice this the most. Once you’ve got this down, the rest is a piece of cake.


Step 4: Change gears

transportation and vehicle concept - man shifting the gear on car manual gearbox

So generally first gear is used only at very low speeds such as pulling out of your mom's garage and parking lots. Once the RPMs hit around 3500, you’ll want to push in the clutch and pull down the shifter into second gear.

Be sure to let off the gas when you push the clutch in. Once you’re in second gear, you slowly let go of the clutch while giving it gas at the same time just as you did to get started. If you’re able to go this then you’ve officially learned how to drive a stick because the rest of the gears work the exact same way.

Once you’ve got enough practice, you can go onto the road and try it out yourself. When you're coming to a stop, for now, you can just put it in neutral and use the brake. After all, driving a stick shift is not tough, but it requires a lot of practicing. Hope this instruction is helpful, and you can soon master the skill.

Learn How To Drive Stick In Five Minutes

About the Author Leroy Simmons

My name is Leroy L.Simmons. I create this blog as the way to find out my excitement and also a way to remember my father. I always love writing, I embarked on this adventure of the blog, to tell you all that I want to share about my hobby, my dream of auto, truck and journey. At MRVEHICLE.NET, I hope to tell you great stories and especially to answer some questions you might ask. And there are also many interesting and up-to-date stories of drivers on their journey everywhere in the world.

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