Tips for driving stick/manual?

Crono

Lifer
Aug 8, 2001
23,720
1,501
136
I don't know how to drive stick shift, but I want to learn. I'm considering getting a manual transmission car - possibly a Scion FR-S, or possibly a Mazda 3 w/manual - very soon (as in a few days or sooner). I know someone who can teach me how to drive stick, but I'd also like to get some tips/advice from any of you experienced drivers out there.

Any tips or advice?
 

brainhulk

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2007
9,418
454
126
This is how I downshift when braking into a corner

heel-and-toe-shifting-o.gif
 

xSkyDrAx

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2003
7,707
1
0
Do you have to drive it home or are you able to get someone to do that for you? That can make a big difference on how soon you'd actually be able to get it home since if you're on your own, you'll probably be sweating bullets if you live in a busy area/dealership is far from home.

Otherwise, standard manual driving tips, start in a parking lot, get a feel for the clutch and when it engages and how much you can play with it before it is completely engaged/stalls. This will be different between cars. Also the physical difference between gears can also get you (to stall) sometimes. When I was learning on a friends Civic, the gears were further apart so when I was test driving my speed3, I kept going into 3rd thinking I was in first a lot.

Also don't rest your foot on the clutch at any time other than changing gears. Same is true for the gear shifter. Reverse can be in different places depending on the car.

If you are uncomfortable with the car rolling back when you release your foot off the brake, try to avoid roads with any heavy inclines for a while until you're more familiar with your clutch and/or find a deserted hill and have it.

Reverse is not as bad as most people say, the main trick is to feather the clutch and it actually helped me get used to the clutch, conceptually, better than getting off in first.

Remember to lift off the gas when changing gears.

Best way though is to have that person show you how to do it. Depending on who has to drive the car home once you get a hold of it, you may want to know what it feels like to drive it and to ease any nerves you have about stalling in the middle of the street with your new car on the way home :) though that will mainly happen with time.

There's probably more stuff but you'll get more concise questions once you actually drive it.
 

unokitty

Diamond Member
Jan 5, 2012
3,346
1
0
I don't know how to drive stick shift, but I want to learn. I'm considering getting a manual transmission car - possibly a Scion FR-S, or possibly a Mazda 3 w/manual - very soon (as in a few days or sooner). I know someone who can teach me how to drive stick, but I'd also like to get some tips/advice from any of you experienced drivers out there.

Any tips or advice?


Practice.

If possible, find a large area, parking lot, forest preserve, whatever and just practice starts and stops.

You'll be surprised how fast that you will pick it up...

Best of luck!
Uno
 

MongGrel

Lifer
Dec 3, 2013
38,751
3,068
121
Use the clutch.

:)

Yeah in all serious, it's just practice more or less.

That and don't ride the thing, good way to wear them out over time.
 
Last edited:

Sluggo

Lifer
Jun 12, 2000
15,488
5
81
When you first start practicing, in a large parking lot of course, first learn to slowly let the clutch out and get the car moving without using the gas pedal.

Most cars can do it, and it gives you a much better idea of how and where the clutch engages in relation to the pedal position.
 

Q

Lifer
Jul 21, 2005
12,059
4
81
I am sorry to hijack here but question for you seasoned vets: I'm a new (2 month) stick shift driver, and I'm doing fine except for going from 1st to 2nd. Every so often, as I go from 1st to 2nd, I will feel a 'vibration' / almost like it's about to grind (the shifter), until I move it back into neutral, then to second. I'm pressing down all the way on the clutch, so I have no idea what it is. Any ideas?

ONLY from 1st to 2nd does it do this. Thanks
 
Last edited:

SSSnail

Lifer
Nov 29, 2006
17,461
82
86
This is how I downshift when braking into a corner

heel-and-toe-shifting-o.gif

Noob, they have cars that do that for you nowadays.

My only tip is that you don't really need to start in 1st gear most of the time*.

*If you're not trying to get anywhere fast, like to the next stop light.
 

natto fire

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2000
7,117
10
76
Do you have to drive it home or are you able to get someone to do that for you? That can make a big difference on how soon you'd actually be able to get it home since if you're on your own, you'll probably be sweating bullets if you live in a busy area/dealership is far from home.

Otherwise, standard manual driving tips, start in a parking lot, get a feel for the clutch and when it engages and how much you can play with it before it is completely engaged/stalls. This will be different between cars. Also the physical difference between gears can also get you (to stall) sometimes. When I was learning on a friends Civic, the gears were further apart so when I was test driving my speed3, I kept going into 3rd thinking I was in first a lot.

Also don't rest your foot on the clutch at any time other than changing gears. Same is true for the gear shifter. Reverse can be in different places depending on the car.

If you are uncomfortable with the car rolling back when you release your foot off the brake, try to avoid roads with any heavy inclines for a while until you're more familiar with your clutch and/or find a deserted hill and have it.

Reverse is not as bad as most people say, the main trick is to feather the clutch and it actually helped me get used to the clutch, conceptually, better than getting off in first.

Remember to lift off the gas when changing gears.

Best way though is to have that person show you how to do it. Depending on who has to drive the car home once you get a hold of it, you may want to know what it feels like to drive it and to ease any nerves you have about stalling in the middle of the street with your new car on the way home :) though that will mainly happen with time.

There's probably more stuff but you'll get more concise questions once you actually drive it.

Best advice right here.

Learn the clutch before you complicate it with using the gas to take off quickly. Pretty much any car should be able to get rolling off idle while feathering the clutch. Reverse should be easy because it is even "shorter" than 1st gear on many cars, which puts more torque to the wheels at lower rpms.
 
Last edited:

MajorMullet

Senior member
Jul 29, 2004
816
4
81
I went through this last year - bought a '13 Focus SE 5 speed. I had a friend of mine drive it home from the dealership. We stopped in an empty parking lot on the way home and I had a ~10 minute lesson no how to get started.

Luckily I have an automatic truck I could drive to work while I learned how to drive the manual. The first month was a bit tense - I never realized how many hills there were around me until I got the stick :)

When I initially got it I went out later at night, around 10pm, and drove around my neighborhood. Put it in first, practice getting it rolling, stop and do it all over again. Stalled a couple of times but figured it out quickly enough. Once you can get it moving from a stop consistently then you're pretty much good to go.

A year later I can drive it fine but I still struggle with making it perfectly smooth on every shift. I tend to let off the clutch too fast so I've been working on slowing that down. Now that I know enough to drive it every day I'd really like to attend a class or something to get some better instruction on some more advanced techniques. I've never had instruction other than that 10 minutes with my friend.

I definitely don't regret it though - it's a lot more fun and "interactive" than driving an automatic. Plus it opens my car options up to a whole new set of possibilities. I'm seriously thinking about getting an ST now which is something that would've been completely unavailable to me a year ago.
 

MongGrel

Lifer
Dec 3, 2013
38,751
3,068
121
I used to have a 1970's Camaro with a 3 speed unsynchronised transmission I loved att.

One of the greatest memories of having it was letting my female cousin who had been driving a little old Toyota at the time drive it at a family get together and watching her eyes almost pop out of her head at the time when she popped the clutch like she was used to and spewed gravel all of my Aunts well manicured lawn at the time.

I was sitting in the shotgun seat and laughing my ass off big time.

Learning to use a clutch is one thing, and it does vary from vehicles.

She was used to driving a clutch in a little 4 banger, the Camaro freaked her out big time, at first, but once she got out of the driveway she started having some fun with it.

I miss that Camaro, wish I still had the SOB.
 
Last edited:

senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
35,787
6,195
126
I bought my Mazda3 without knowing how to drive stick. It kept stalling on me, until I realized I had hand brake on. One thing I don't like about the car is the hand brake is super weak, I think it only goes to one wheel, so in SF going up the steep hills, the car will roll back with hand brake on.
 

MongGrel

Lifer
Dec 3, 2013
38,751
3,068
121
I bought my Mazda3 without knowing how to drive stick. It kept stalling on me, until I realized I had hand brake on. One thing I don't like about the car is the hand brake is super weak, I think it only goes to one wheel, so in SF going up the steep hills, the car will roll back with hand brake on.
I got lazy in my old age, have the 5 speed auto dual gate in the Mazda 3 here :)

I just leave it in auto though, 99.5% of the time.
 

xSkyDrAx

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2003
7,707
1
0
I am sorry to hijack here but question for you seasoned vets: I'm a new (2 month) stick shift driver, and I'm doing fine except for going from 1st to 2nd. Every so often, as I go from 1st to 2nd, I will feel a 'vibration' / almost like it's about to grind (the shifter), until I move it back into neutral, then to second. I'm pressing down all the way on the clutch, so I have no idea what it is. Any ideas?

ONLY from 1st to 2nd does it do this. Thanks

Maybe you are lifting up on the clutch too soon while trying to get it into 2nd? That or shifting too fast? Some gears don't like to be rushed. 2nd to 3rd in my car has a tendency to do that if i try to move it there too quickly.
 

mmntech

Lifer
Sep 20, 2007
17,504
12
0
Only driven a manual vehicle once (dirt bike) but didn't spend enough time to really get the hang of it. I think it would be easier in a car though.

The sheer amount of traffic and unsynced lights in Toronto makes driving standard a tiring affair. I would still like to learn though.
 

Leyawiin

Diamond Member
Nov 11, 2008
3,204
52
91
My folks bought a five speed Toyota Celica when I was a junior in high school. They brought it home of course and we lived out of town on a country road. Dad wanted to show me, but after he gave me a general idea of what I needed to do I asked if I could just figure it out on my own. It took me about ten minutes to get it backed up and heading down the driveway. Once of the road I killed it several times, but after about thirty minutes I was kind of getting the hang of it.

Basically, I'm one of those people who get nervous learning a new thing if someone else is watching. Leave me along and let me work it out. After a few weeks of driving it I was like an old pro - better than my dad according to mom. ;)
 
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Zenmervolt

Elite member
Oct 22, 2000
24,512
21
81
I used to have a 1970's Camaro with a 3 speed unsynchronised transmission I loved att.

The Saginaw 3-speeds used in the 2nd-gen Camaros were synchronized on all gears.

Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, the Saginaw 3-speeds lacked syncronization on 1st only (2nd and 3rd had synchros), but by 1970 all three gears had synchros.

ZV
 

T2urtle

Diamond Member
Oct 18, 2004
3,432
3
81
driving a manual isn't very hard. Getting smooth at it to the point where no one can tell its a manual VS an auto is another thing.

Many people just ride the clutch a LOT when they learn to drive. If your willing to learn then its just a matter of minutes/hours til your good at it.
 

WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
30,439
8,108
136
This is how I downshift when braking into a corner

heel-and-toe-shifting-o.gif

I've got no idea what my feet do when I change down but I suspect they get up to similar when I'm wearing big boots. :)


Manual is really not that difficult.

Hell, my wife manages fine.
 

biostud

Lifer
Feb 27, 2003
18,249
4,760
136
Hehe, I had to learn driving automatic when I rented a car in the US.

Basically just press the clutch when switching and then gently let go once you have changed gears. When you feel that the engine and wheels are in sync release clutch completely.
 

natto fire

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2000
7,117
10
76
Hehe, I had to learn driving automatic when I rented a car in the US.

Basically just press the clutch when switching and then gently let go once you have changed gears. When you feel that the engine and wheels are in sync release clutch completely.

What exactly is that statement supposed to mean? Granted, you might have to "learn" something with driving an automatic, but the rest of your post is WTF.
 

dbk

Lifer
Apr 23, 2004
17,693
10
81
Ive been driving my mt accord since last august and only thing i need is to learn rev match downshifting... too much of a pussy to try it but i always realize when i need/want to do it..

http://youtu.be/C1UB306t-98

Like that guy.. lol
 
Last edited:

biostud

Lifer
Feb 27, 2003
18,249
4,760
136
What exactly is that statement supposed to mean? Granted, you might have to "learn" something with driving an automatic, but the rest of your post is WTF.

Well I'm a bit drunk. The rest is a simple guide to driving stick.