How I Learned to Drive a Manual Vehicle

I have just learned how to drive a manual vehicle and I wanted to document my experience to help others who might be in the same predicament.

stick shift

Day 1: I needed to find an open parking lot to test out my new manual transmission car. The best place my boyfriend and I found on day 1 was at Heritage Square in Golden, CO.

How to start the car: In my car you hold down the brake and put your foot all the way down on the clutch and turn the key. At this point you still have your foot all the way down on the clutch, then shift the car into neutral (this will be the middle part of the shifter box). You must keep your foot on the break when the car is in neutral, or else the car will move forward…or backward depending on gravity.

How to drive the car in 1st gear: When you go to put the car into 1st gear, put your foot all the way down on the clutch, make sure the shifter is in neutral (which means you can move it from left to right). Then put the shifter into 1st gear, now you are going to release the clutch and apply smooth pressure to the gas.

When learning this step you might want to pulse your foot on the clutch and gas pedal, but that will make the car jolt back and forth and eventually die. Instead, you should release the clutch and apply pressure to the gas pedal in one smooth action. Also another tip, when releasing the clutch and applying pressure to the gas pedal, don’t re-apply pressure to the clutch…you have to be committed when putting your car into 1st gear from neutral.

How to stop the car: This is one of the most important steps; you are going to have to stop your car many times during your drives. With an automatic car it is simple, you press on the break. With a manual car there are a few steps that lead into one smooth action. It doesn’t matter what gear you are in, in order to stop the car you are going to press all the way down on the clutch, then ease down on the break and put the shifter into neutral. At this point the car is in neutral and you do not need to have your foot all the way down or even on the clutch. This is a very smooth movement and with much practice you will become more comfortable stopping your vehicle.

Day 2: How to shift the car into another gear: At this point you are driving the car in first gear, once the RPM gage is between 2-3 (depends on the car) and the car is starting to reeve higher (a noise that sounds like the car is working harder than it should) you will want to shift the car into the next higher gear. You’re going to want to keep the car going at that high speed before you shift, press the clutch all the way down and move the shifter into the next higher gear…after shifting you’ll want to ease off the clutch (ease off faster than you would when making the car go from a stop to 1st gear) and depending on how fast you’re going you will need to press on the gas.

Shifting from a higher gear into a lower gear: You will need to shift your car into a lower gear when the RPM gage begins to do down to 1.5…if your RPM gage goes below 1 your car will die. When shifting from a higher gear into a lower gear, you will have the clutch pressed all the way down to shift the gear; once the car is shifted, instead of pressing on the gas; you need to let off the clutch and you might need tap on the break.

Note: It is better on your breaks to down shift rather than putting the car in neutral and breaking, but always put the car in neutral if you need to stop in a hurry. Putting the car into a lower gear to slow down is something you will do more when you are a more experienced manual driver; starting off you will probably put the car in neutral quite a bit to slow down.

I hope this article will help anyone who is learning how to drive a manual transmission vehicle, if you have any further questions please comment below. As always, thank you for reading!

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