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How to drive a stick shift vehicle

Here are your instructions for learning how to drive a manual (stick shift) transmission vehicle.

United States drivers should first learn how to drive automatic vehicles (non commercial) first. This is because the licensing privileges are the same for testing and possessing a driving license. Other countries will often be much more restrictive on the class of license the driver is allowed to hold, based on the vehicle used for the road test. For example, in many countries drivers are not allowed to drive a stick if the road test was passed in an automatic vehicle, but if a manual was used to pass the test, then the driver is licensed to drive automatic or manual. image

Issues to consider before choosing to drive a manual:
You will not be able to text while driving, or even hold a phone in your hands - easily. Driving in city traffic will be much more work, and can become tiring. You will often stall the vehicle while getting the hang of it.
Here are the good things about driving a stick: Stick shift have less moving parts, the engine and transmission may last longer, drivers are more knowledgeable about automobiles, and repair cost are often less compared to automatic transmissions. Stick shifted vehicles are more flexible in terms of engine usage, or even the option to start the vehicle even with a dead battery.
Current automatic transmission vehicles are extremely well optimized with many options such as triptronic and dual clutch. These transmissions have become very reliable and may last the entire life of the vehicle without any failure. A manual transmission vehicle will require at least one clutch replacement over the useful life of the automobile ( about twelve years ).

Lets begin the lesson here

Do not begin to learn stick shift by first driving the vehicle. You should sit in the vehicle and watch someone else drive it if this is possible. Pay particular attention to the operation of the clutch in sync with shifting the gears. Also, be sure to sit in the vehicle and study the gear pattern. If the vehicle has three speeds, five speeds, six speeds or even sixteen speeds? Do not be in a hurry to learn how to operate a manual transmission vehicle - seriously! Otherwise this can be costly in terms of difficulty and expense for replacing the clutch ( $1000 to $2000 for most cars).
study the shifter carefully: The free play motion, neutral position, and remember that you may have to press down on the shifter when attempting to engage the reverse gear.

Be sure to pay special attention to where neutral is located by feel only, while your eyes are looking ahead. When operating the shifter while not driving, it will always return to center - neutral automatically.

Many automatics have three (3) pedals on the floor. If this is your setup, then the pedal on the left is your parking brake, otherwise there are two pedals and the parking brake- hand operated, is located int the center of the vehicle between the front seats.
Please be aware that on manuals (sticks - newer vehicles) the clutch must be completely depressed in order to start the vehicle.

Every automobile manufacturer exgineer their vehicles a little differently, which gives the vehicle that unique feel and driveability. This also holds true for how well the clutch works for you. Most importantly, the clutch may have a long or short travel from top to bottom when pressed and released. On vehicles with steering wheels on the left, the clutch is designed to be operated with the left foot only.

While operating the vehicle and changing gears, especially shifting up from first gear to second and third, your foot should remain over the clutch pedal after you have shifted until the vehicle is in 3rd gear. Do not ride the clutch on each shift - allow the pedal to travel all the way to the top before shifting into the next gear. You must be especially attuned to when the clutch and transmission engages. This usually occurs about 1/4 of the way up as you shift from 1st to 2nd. for example, if the clutch pedal is released too quickly after engaging the transmission - about half way up - the vehicle may stall, resulting in your stopping and restarting the engine. This ability to sync the transmission while shifting and operating the clutch requires practice and no amount of reading or even watching someone else drive will master this task; that can only be achieved by knowledge and practice.

It may be better to begin your first manual driving experience in an empty parking lot. This is because some people often call the police if they see suspicious driving. Also, you will experience pressure to get going from other drivers behind you - honking their horns. By starting in the parking lot your anxiety will be less - allowing you to focus on the operation of the vehicle only.

Once you are in a safe place and your seat is properly adjusted so that your hips do not roll or twist when you depress the clutch pedal completely, then it is time to begin driving your manual shift. You should have familiarized yourself completely with the gear positions by now. You must definitely know what the gauge on the left in the instrument panel does. It is called a tachometer, and as such displays the vehicle engine speed. This will be extremely important when shifting gears up and down.
Practice playing with the gas pedal until you can keep the tachometer needle between 2000 and 3000 RPM. It will be here that you will be changing gears up shortly. Be sure that the transmission - gear selector - is in the neutral position. Remember, in order to start the vehicle, the clutch pedal must be completely pressed to the floor. (when you are in traffic, you will tend to hurry while restarting the engine and mess this part up).

With the engine running and your right hand on the shifter, gently place you left foot over the clutch pedal. You should feel a light resistance. Place your right foot on the brake pedal as you would when driving an automatic. Now depressed the clutch pedal completely while your right foot remains on the brake.

Gently place the shifter into first gear while keeping the clutch pedal floored. Now begin to release the clutch pedal up until it reaches about halfway up. (It is best to do this by keeping your heel on the floor and working the pedal with the upper part of your foot). You should begin to feel the transmission engages (the engine pulls). Remove your right foot from the brake pedal while maintaining the clutch pedal in the same position. Place the right foot over the accelerator and squeeze until the tachometer moves to about 2000 RPM. Now bring the clutch pedal up slowly - the vehicle will begin to creep forward. Release the clutch pedal after a count of five. Accelerate slowly and repeat said procedure when changing to second gear.

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