I’ve never had any formal training driving a vehicle with a stick shift. Since I learned to ride a dirt bike at an early age, the concept of driving a manual transmission wasn’t lost on me, so when it came time for me to get my drivers’ license, I had already grasped the basics pretty well and while it’s quite similar to riding a motorcycle, there are big differences. These days, I prefer driving an automatic transmission over a manual and reserve the shifting for motorcycle riding only, while some people love a stick shift and actually prefer it for a variety of reasons, one being of course, that a vehicle with a manual transmission is actually cheaper to buy.
If you’d like to learn how to drive a stick shift, here are the basics but keep in mind, it generally takes practice. Driving around a vacant parking lot with an experienced friend before attempting to head for the streets is a good idea.
1) When driving a stick shift, you’ll become very familiar with the clutch pedal, which is located on the floor of the drivers’ side and is furthest to your left. Basically, the clutch pedal controls the shifting and when it’s pressed, shifting can occur. In an automatic, the torque converter does the work for you, but when driving a manual, it’s up to you to shift the vehicle into gear.
2) To start the vehicle, push down on the clutch, making certain the stick shift is in neutral (if it isn’t, the vehicle will stall). When you hear the engine fire up and turn over, take your foot off the clutch pedal slowly.
3) Move the stick shift into First Gear by pressing on the clutch pedal and moving the stick shift left and up. Take your foot off the clutch pedal slowly until the vehicle begins to move forward. You’re now in first gear and at this point, you’re not going to be able to go very fast, so you’ll need to move on up into Second Gear to get rolling.
4) Push on the clutch pedal with your foot and move the stick shift into Second Gear, giving the vehicle a little more gas as you remove your foot from the clutch pedal. If you don’t give the vehicle enough gas, it will stall.
5) Now that you’re in Second Gear, let’s boost it by going into Third Gear, doing the exact same thing as before, but moving the stick shift into Third Gear. Once you get the hang of it, driving a stick shift becomes almost second nature and you’ll rarely think about it, but during the first few times and practice sessions, you’ll be aware of everything you do.
6) Keep in mind that all vehicles are different, but listening to your engine is a good indicator of shifting times, although a good rule of thumb is:
â€¢ 10 mph Shift into Second Gear
â€¢ 20 mph Shift into Third Gear
â€¢ 30 mph Shift into Fourth Gear
â€¢ 40 mph Shift into Fifth Gear
7) When approaching a stop light or stop sign, shift back into neutral and come to a nice, easy stop by coasting and using your brake.
8) To resume travel, simply put the car into First Gear again as in #3 and repeat the process.
9) If you happen to be at a light or stop sign located on a hill, you’ll have to be quick while taking your foot off the brake, using the clutch and giving it gas, or the vehicle will begin to roll backwards.
10) Remember to set the parking brake when you leave your vehicle.