How to Drive a Manual Transmission — Cars.com
so you want to
drivea car with a
transmissionwell I have bad news and good news the bad news is there are fewer models on the market now than ever before that have a proper three peddle
transmissionthe good news is the ones that do offer the feature are easier to learn on then old
carswere whether you're going to
drivea new car or an old car I commend you and I'll get you started now the first part of the lesson is I'm going to explain what's going on when you're operating the
transmissionnow it isn't absolutely necessary could just be about a stick and a pedal but what I found is people tend to grasp this a little bit faster learn faster if they understand what is actually going on under the surface a car with a gas or diesel engine has a
transmissionwith multiple gears for the same reason a bicycle does a good bicycle not one of those retro hipster one speed bikes these the idea behind having these gears is you can pedal only so fast and you reach a certain point and to go faster you need to shift up same thing is true with a car's engine let's take a look at the tachometer the tachometer is a gauge that shows engine speed and essentially all
carshave them even automatic you just don't pay attention to it it'll be marked typically one two three four or in some cases ten twenty thirty but the idea is multiplied by some number that is the revolutions per minute of the engine and when you hit the gas a bit...
you'll see the needle goes up as the engine speed increases typically though a gas engine will run only up to about six to eight thousand rpm it depends on the car and there are some exceptions in this car it's about 7400 rpm where you see a redline begin and that redline is called the red line and the engine is not supposed to run in the red line because it can be damaged now newer
carsare less likely to actually incur damage than older ones but still that's not where you want to be so if you want to go faster and faster in a car you need to be able to shift to the next gear simple right just like a bicycle well there's one area where it's not like a bicycle on a bicycle when you start out you just pedal 1 2 3 4 you can start from a standing stop an engine on the other hand has an idle speed of typically 750 rpm so little run from 750 rpm - in this case 7400 but below 750 nothing so what's happening is when you're sitting still your engine is going 750 rpm and your
transmissionand the gears are not moving at all and you've got to get them going together at the same speed and that is going to be your job through the use of the clutch clutch pedal and you are going to suck at it it's going to be hilarious to me you're gonna hate it but I'm laughs and just thinking about it but here you probably ought to laugh at it too because you're going to be bad but if you stick with it and practice you're going to get better so...
let's start with the pedals you'll see the extra one here the third that is the clutch pedal but it looks like there are four pedals in this car and that is because this one is technically called the dead pedal but a better word for that is the footrest it doesn't really do anything and footrest is a good name because that is what you're supposed to do and that is rest your foot there do not leave your foot on the clutch pedal the whole point behind the clutch is use it and then you get off of it put your foot on the dead pedal or the foot rest here's an important tip before you even get started when you're operating the clutch pedal you need your whole leg you're not putting your heel down anchoring it like you might with the accelerator pedal and just tilting at the ankle you need your whole leg it's a little bit more like a brake pedal in that regard also when you apply the pedal you always go all the way down to the floor and release all the way out always step in all the way release all the way and when you're not using the clutch rest on the dead pedal now before you even head out if you're just learning how to
transmissionthink ahead and wear sensible shoes you don't need fancy driving shoes or anything but you're the tip don't wear a big clunky shoe and don't wear anything with a big heel and don't judge me I'm trying to help you and it's free once once you learn how to
wear whatever you want but for training purposes be sensible now let's get to know the shifter or the stick which is how you put the
transmissionin the different gears the pattern for the forward gears is pretty much the same in everything and you'll see it either on top of the knob or somewhere nearby typically the difference between vehicles is really just about how many forward gears it has this car has six older
carsmay stop at four forward gears some
carsthese days have seven all just affect how much shifting you'll be doing now one of the most important things you need to know is when it's not in gear and that is neutral neutral position is straight in the middle of all of these and you'll know it's in neutral when the stick wobbles left and right now I'm gonna step on the clutch pedal even though the engine is off and you'll see now I'm in first gear up and to the left now notice it doesn't slide left and right in neutral there's my wobble so first second is below to the right and up is third and so on it's pretty simple stuff now all
carsare gonna have a reverse gear that can be in a different location used to be up in to the right for a lot of
carsnow and nowadays are starting to see them on the left the best
carswill have a little lock out like this lift collar that prevents you from going into reverse unless you really mean it and when you're practicing going into first once you get a little bit good at that...
you can start doing the same thing with reverse okay you want to find an empty or nearly empty parking lot or road and it's important that it be flat because you're going to be practicing taking off in first gear and reverse and the effects of gravity can just complicate things it you need to start the car when you start a
transmissionit's always important to make sure it is a neutral wiggle that stick and in newer
carsespecially it's necessary not just good practice to step on the clutch pedal because that will allow the engine to start without stepping on that pedal you can turn the key all you want it wouldn't have started with a new car so when you take off from a stop in a car with
transmissionyou are essentially trying to coordinate the application of the gas and the release of the clutch pedal or the engagement of the clutch but what I'm going to do is have you practice first without stepping on the gas at all just use the clutch pedal to get a feel for the clutch engagement now when you lift off the pedal you're engaging the clutch when you step on you're disengaging I'm just gonna call it clutch in and clutch out because that's the simplest thing to remember when the time comes to actually do it so what you'll do is you're going to watch my feet watch everything I do you're stepping on the clutch pedal alright stick goes into first I happen to have the brake on so I'm going to take the parking...
brake off and then you're just gonna slowly let that clutch pedal out see what I'm doing right now now if you have a newer car this is actually a little easier because the engine control unit the computer senses the load and will compensate and give you a little bit more gas so here you can see my foots off the pedal I'm in first gear and I'm moving pretty simple stuff every car is different and I'm gonna do it again for you here's how we stop I'm right I've got my foot over the brake clutch in and I pull the shifter out of first into neutral and come to a stop all
carsare different what you're doing is you're getting a feel for where the clutch engages in some
carsit's lower in the pedal travel like close to the floor and some it's higher up all
carsare released a little bit different so again clutch in first gear let it out slowly and there you go you put her around you can put around a little bit in first gear if you want to will discuss whether or not we
drivein first gear in a bit so clutch in stick into neutral brake we stop now it's actually the same situation for going in Reverse aside from the gear being different clutch in I'm lifting the collar as necessary for this putting it in reverse and slowly letting that pedal out I am looking behind me and I have a backup camera so it's I don't want it to look like I'm just blindly backing up there we go and we're moving now you might find that...
I'm gonna stop now ready remember clutch in break and take the stick into neutral verse skier tends to be a little bit faster than first because it's the only one you got so it will feel a little bit different you're gonna want to practice with that too now having gotten a feel for the clutch application I'm going to show you how we apply the gas and release the clutch at the same time and lets you do the same thing you just did but faster here we go clutch in first gear now watch my feet I'm going to add some gas and release the clutch and we're moving in first gear you can hear we're moving faster this time okay same as last time clutch in braking stick back into neutral now you probably want me to tell you what RPM you should be going when you release the clutch to take off I can't tell you that reason being first of all all
carsare different I want to say it's gonna be around 2,000 rpm just to get you going but first all
carsare different and second I don't want you focusing on the tachometer you're much better off getting a feel for this just by doing it and I feel the same way about when we get to the point where we're shifting through the higher gears as well so we did it once let's do it again ready clutch in into first gear adding a little gas letting out the clutch okay now let me give you one tip that I think is one of the most useful things that that I found from instructing people on how to
transmissions and that is there's a notion that this has to be the perfect synchronized balletic application and release perfectly even and that's actually not true what I've found is a lot of people find the process a lot easier while they're learning if they partway through releasing that clutch they just if it starts to grab just hold for a second and then release the clutch the rest of the way I'm gonna try and do that again so you can see what I'm what I'm doing rather than just trying to robotically go in with the gas and out with the clutch it's you're applying you come out a bit with with your clutch foot see my hand here wait a second when it starts to grab just give it a half second and then release the rest of the way here's what I'm doing ready kind of hard to see I know but maybe you understand from what I'm describing and the thing with that is you've got to be a little bit careful about overdoing it you cannot take forever to get your foot off the clutch pedal what you're trying to do is go from clutch in the clutch out reasonably quickly and you don't want to do what's called riding the clutch where you're kind of controlling the car speed by how much you're letting the clutch slip that's bad news and it wears the clutch really quickly but on the other hand this one tip seems to help people an awful lot now you'll notice if you do things real slowly clutch in first gear if you do...
think slowly you can give it less gas here we go ready I'm hardly giving it any gas it's not much different from when I didn't use the gas at all right if you want to take off faster you're going to have to give it more gas for example clutch in first gear see that much faster same things true if you're on a hill and I'm gonna address Hills in a bit too if you're on a hill uphill I should say you're gonna have to give it more gas to get you going now what can go wrong well certainly things can go wrong in this process one is you can pop the clutch maybe not give it enough gas and kill it and that looks a little like this okay so the car bucks a bit it's probably not going to hurt the car so what else could go wrong as you're taking off well you give it too much gas you can spin the tires it'll go something like this now that is definitely cooler than killing it but don't get addicted because neighbors don't like it cops don't like it and it does put some strain on your car it'll wear out your tires to that end there's something else you should be aware of that could go wrong and that is you could smell a terrible odor chances are that's the smell of your clutch and that means you are slipping the clutch too much and if you see smoke that's definitely a sign then it's time to pull over and cool off let the car cool off you should cool off all it means is you've got to go a little lighter on the gas...
and a little quicker on the clutch pedal if you're just revving revving revving and slow it in letting the clutch out and controlling your speed with the clutch you're gonna get smelly you're gonna get smoked and you are gonna take hundreds or thousands of miles off of the clutch unnecessarily and once you've gotten good enough at accelerating from a stop be it in first gear or reverse you're probably ready to go into the higher gears and I do recommend you still do this in a and an abandoned street or a parking or lot or the like it is much easier the hard part is over all you got to do is watch my feet I'm gonna have to be steering during this so excuse me if I don't say everything perfectly here we go clutch in first gear okay we're at first revs up clutch in second gear clutch out clutch in third gear clutch out scuse my turn clutch in fourth gear clutch out clutch in fifth gear clutch out touch in sixth gear clutch out it's pretty simple now what could go wrong in these circumstances well you might accidentally wind up in a higher gear than you want to soon and you're gonna step on the gas pedal and nothing's gonna happen I'll show you it's like so right now I'm in fourth gear hardly moving hardly moving and the car vibrates there's a sound and a vibration that means the engine is lugging and it's not good for it it's not gonna hurt it too badly it's not like the old days
carsare much better...
protecting themselves and they used to be but in those circumstances all that means is you need to be in a lower gear so let's say I'm moving forward I'm in third gear to low what do I do clutch in go down a second clutch up everything's fine it's not that difficult now I'm sure you have an Uncle Tony or something like that that always told you never be in top gear below X miles per hour well I'm sorry Uncle Tony but I've
driven hundreds of
transmissions and they're all different what matters is that you're not lugging the engine if your car is perfectly happy in its top gear going 40 miles an hour if you're just cruising you're fine nothing to worry about something else that could go wrong is you could Rev too high and hit the rev line and it might look like this all right what just happened there was my modern car hit what's called a rev limiter and that was a pretty hard rev limiter it what it does is it actually stops you from going into what would be a hazardous condition for the engine old
carsdidn't have rev limiters either hard like this one or soft soft meeting the car might just slowly lose speed or might kind of bounce on the rev limiter to get your attention so again a newer car you're not likely to do any damage now once you've been experiencing all this successful up shifting you're probably going to need to know how to stop right and it's actually not that difficult people...
I think tend to make it more difficult than they need to with some misconceptions about how to slow down and stop in a
transmissioncar by and large here's what you do I'm in 4th gear right now let's just say I'm in fifth I'm in fifth you use your brake as you normally would you come slower slower slower slower so when you get close to the stop you put the collection put the
transmissionin neutral and you're fine you don't have to down shift through the gears when you come to a stop
carsare all geared differently I've been in a couple where I've noticed that the the the engine starts to falter a bit at relatively high speeds and I might want to take it out of gear a little bit sooner but by and large with all the
driven even let's say sixth gear as we are here you come close to your stop you're getting closer and closer clutch in put it in neutral everything's fine I've alluded to the complicating effects of gravity especially when you're learning I'm gonna give you one tip that I think will help but first here's what we're talking about clutch in I'm on the brake pedal I'm gonna let off the brake now you can see we're moving obviously that can make things a little bit more difficult when you're just learning to get going but I'll show you how it's supposed to go first gear see no problem because I am a professional actually it's not that I'm a...
professional I just have experience and eventually you'll have experience and you'll be driving through San Francisco like it's no big deal and to be honest on a steep hill I might have a little trouble myself but here's a great tip that you might find useful even once you do have experience and that is to use the parking brake especially the hand brake and usually
carsstill have a hand brake watch what I do with my feet now clutch in first gear now what I'm doing is I'm applying the handbrake I've got my finger on the button here still so it's mobile now I'm letting off of the brake pedal and then what I do is I give it gas and I left the clutch out a little bit till I feel it grab and then I release the parking brake and I'm off now this can be really helpful even if you are experienced as I said because let's say you park on the street nose up uphill and someone parks behind you and leaves no room so you have no margin of error to rollback even a little bit that's the situation where you would again clutch in in gear parking brake let go of the regular brake pedal and then there you go it's a good tip now for what it's worth nowadays newer
carshave added a feature called Hill hold and that's whether they have automatic or
transmissions whereby you take your foot off the brake or put the clutch and put it in first gear let off the brake and it will hold the car for you and fortunately...
that has come along right about the time that
carshave stopped having an easy-to-use hand brake like this it would be pretty hard to do what I just demonstrated with a pedal because you only have two feet or with an electronic parking brake switch here's a question you might not think of do you need to shift in order the answer is no like right now I'm in third gear right let's say I gave it a lot of gas I can go right into fifth because the engine speed was high this is the kind of thing that might happen if you are taking off from a light or something or on a hill let's say in first gear and you give it a lot of revs and you rev up pretty high you can go from first to third no reason not to now here's something you shouldn't do and that is coast in neutral I know Uncle Tony told you you save gas by coasting in neutral by doing this right okay maybe at some point in history that was true probably not very true probably not worth much but take a look what's happening right now I'm slowing down in gear you know what's happening my fuel injectors are off they are not pumping fuel that's how modern
carswork so what's happening is if I'm accelerating and then I'm coasting you're going down a hill like this foot off the accelerator I'm not using gas what happens if I put it in neutral like Uncle Tony says then I am using gas because gas is needed to keep the engine turning so there you go Uncle Tony you outsmarted...
yourself so I'll try and give you some other tips while I'm at it here's one don't
drivein first gear it's not a 100% guideline but by-and-large first gear is for getting to second gear and you do your driving at second gear once again having
driven dozens and dozens of
carsI've been in a couple where second gear was a little bit too tall as we call it for driving and really bad traffic and slow traffic and I did have to
drivein first gear but unless you have a car like that there's really no need to be in first unless you're on your way to second here's a reminder for you when you come to a stop don't do what I'm doing right now leave the the
transmissionin gear or in first gear with your foot on the clutch pedal it's bad practice but it also it produces some somewhere on a bearing called the throw out bearing that is engaged whenever you are standing on the clutch pedal that is designed to momentarily engage and then disengage if you sit for long periods you're just putting tremendous extra wear on that bearing so don't do it now here's a note about down shifting here I am going pretty quick in sixth gear and I want to go down to fifth I want you to see how easy this is clutch in went to fifth clutch out not a whole lot of bucking all right same thing could be true if I were going in sixth gear now I'm in sixth I want you to see as I make the switch I'm getting out of this bumpy Lane...
as I make the switch it's not bad now if you're getting a little bit better at this you're more advanced that's when you learn to flip the throttle to rev-match it's called you see how I just gave the gas pedal a bit of a jolt there now I'm going back to sixth to do it again for you what you're doing is you're aligning the revolutions of the essentially to simplify at the engine and the
transmissionfor what it's worth ninety-eight percent of the wear on your clutch happens when you're going from a stop in first gear or in Reverse so it's not critical that you rev match but once you get a little bit more practice you might find that you're able to do it and keep your shifts your down shifts smoother like so watch again nice and smooth eventually you're gonna have to park your
transmissioncar and it can be a little bit different from an automatic because there is no park setting for the
transmissionso I'll show you what I'm what I'm doing I'm in neutral I took my foot off the clutch right you're gonna rely on the parking brake whether it's a handle a pedal or an electric switch which is the new thing but people tend to also want to leave the
transmissionin gear especially if you live someplace hilly because let's face it parking brakes aren't perfect they're not infallible and especially as the car ages so what do you do well there are a couple ways you can do it you can put the...
clutch in put the car in gear let's say first and then turn the engine off let the clutch out and you're good you could also presumably let's just do it for the sake of argument you're in neutral clutch out turn the car off then push the clutch pedal put it in gear release the clutch pedal and then you have the added security of having the engines
drivetrain keep the car from moving just to be extra careful what I'll do if I'm parking say nose into a space I will put it in Reverse when I park so if I come back and let's say I absent-mindedly start the car and pop the clutch and not realize it's in gear at least I'm going backward or not into the wall in front of me and likewise if I back into a space or back up into my garage I'll Park it in first gear for the opposite reason well I think that's about all the help I can give you beginners wasn't this car black when we started it's okay it's we should use two
carsfor this shoot one was a black Subaru BRZ this one is a Toyota 86 they're essentially twins so it all worked out fine I'm impressed if you notice by the way what was I saying yes I think I've done what I can for you I hope you've absorbed what I've shown you and that you have the confidence now to try driving a car with a stick shift there's no question you're not going to be good at it at first you're probably gonna kill the engine a few times you're probably not going to...
hurt the car unless it's really old and frail you might hurt your ego a little bit but give it time one thing you need to recognize is driving a car with a