Learning to drive a manual
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This is a discussion on Learning to drive a manual within the Tutorials & DIY forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I wasn't sure where to stick this post. I'm a noob at car forums. So up until 6 days ago ...

  1. #1
    Registered User T.Rex's Avatar
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    Learning to drive a manual

    I wasn't sure where to stick this post. I'm a noob at car forums.

    So up until 6 days ago when I bought my WRX, I didn't know the first thing about driving a manual. I think I've done fairly well so far. I've tried to look up tips on how to be better and what not to do but I'm getting conflicting results. For example, can I just park it with my emergency brake up or do I need to also put it in first after I turn the car off? Can I coast in neutral with the clutch in and tapping my brakes? Someone also told me I don't have to put the clutch all the way down when shifting, just to the catch point while another said always put the clutch to the floor before you shift. I obviously want to treat my car right and don't want to pick up any bad habits when it comes to driving. A new clutch was installed at the dealership before I bought it.
    Can someone clarify? Also, if there's anything I absolutely shouldn't do, that would be great, too. Thanks in advance!


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    Master Baiter EJ257's Avatar
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    I always use my eBrake as the main parking brake, with the transmission as a "backup" (if the front end is up, 1; if the rear end is up, R).

    I don't coast to a stop in neutral; the car is always in gear. If the car is in neutral, though, I would release the clutch, personally.

    I always have been a "to the floor" clutch operator. You don't need to be, though, as long as it's past the catch point.
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    Wow, can't wait to hear the responses. I've been driving stick (successfully!) for 35 years, but know I have plenty of bad habits! My clutches "love me long time", but I know I am no master! Will follow this thread to learn.

    Parking...ALWAYS in gear! I left a Forester XT parked out of gear, with just ebrake and came out to find it on the other side of the parking lot! YIKES!

    I coast in neutral regularly. I think brakes are cheaper than clutches...could be wrong. I downshift/engine brake for sound and effect, or if I am entering a LONG grade and am concerned that brakes may overheat during descent. Normal "flat" driving...coast in neutral to stop. Unless I think the guy behind me is not going to stop! I've been rearended (and ride motorcycles) to know that being in gear at a stop has advantages...get out of the way quickly!

    For me clutch always goes all the way down! On the way back up, slowly on starting to move in first...faster in second...third and above are FAST clutch movement.

    Things to NOT do:
    Always in neutral or clutch down when you come to a stop! :-)


    Drive it and it will come to you. Patience. Slow is fast. Calm-controlled shift = faster times. You are driving the car, not the other way. LISTEN to the car. It will tell you when it is unhappy.

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    Registered User XRedJar's Avatar
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    Agree with the always park in gear with the brake set.

    When coming to a stop, I downshift until I'm going fairly slow (25 - 30), then clutch in as I finish the stop.

    I'm a clutch to the floor type.

    Another thing not to do is skip gears when shifting up/down.......I.E. shifting from 1 to 3, or 2 to 4. Others may disagree, but if not done properly....it can jack up the syncros/transmission.
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    Registered User MercRising's Avatar
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    HowStuffWorks "How Clutches Work"

    Subaru all wheel drive explained | awd cars, 4x4 vehicles, 4wd trucks, 4motion, quattro, xDrive, SH-AWD, Haldex, Torsen, wiki - How it works

    Double clutching - NASIOC

    You don't have to double clutch all the time, but I sure do when driving aggressively, almost exclusively on down shifts so as to ease strain on the drive train.

    I learned a few things with these articles I just found with the Great Googler, thought I'd share.

    Another great way to learn to control and feel the clutch is on dirt. I was taught to drive on dirt roads because you can tell when you really give it too much gas or too little. You also learn to slip the clutch to lauch and spin a little on dirt. Now of course pavement driving and the launch are not the same as on dirt but, I think all drivers should have to learn to spin out and throttle steer on dirt in a manual trans car before they're let into mass transit....we'd all be safer!

  7. #6
    Luke Skywalker Mikie13's Avatar
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    Who uses a clutch?

    Power shifting all day long becausesemitruck.
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    Registered User tesla317's Avatar
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    I usually downshift when coming to a stop, but only down to second. No point in going into 1st when I'm almost at a stop already, but I'll go to first with the clutch in and be ready to pull out.

    I don't skip gears, even if I have to brake quickly I go through the descending order. It may not make a difference, but I can't afford to fix anything, I'm still paying for the car!!!

    I'm kinda odd when pulling out in 1st or reverse. I'll feather the throttle instead of giving it constant throttle. Just a light tapping, giving me enough but not exceeding...if that makes any sense. I'm not revving it up, just light throttle. Also helps to not ride the clutch.

    Finally something to look at is rev matching. Don't even try this until u are extremely confidant I'm your driving ( when driving a manual takes no real thought and is second nature ).

    It's revving up the engine during a downshift. Which allows you to match the rpms of the next gear down. Makes for smooth downshifts, to the point where other people in the car don't feel the shift. Also I've heard it's easier on the transmission and synchronizes.

    For example, when downshifting from 4th to 3rd at say 60mph. The rpms drop, and when getting into 3rd they rise back up quickly to about 4k rpms and u feel the car hold back.

    Instead, when doing the downshift, when the clutch goes in, pulse the throttle to 4k rpms, let out the clutch and the transition is smooth as glass....assuming u get it right. It takes practice, and don't try till your ready. I can't drive a manual without doing it, it's second nature to me as well. Hope some of this helps.

    Oh, and leave it in gear when parked!

  9. #8
    Registered User UEDan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XRedJar View Post
    Another thing not to do is skip gears when shifting up/down.......I.E. shifting from 1 to 3, or 2 to 4. Others may disagree, but if not done properly....it can jack up the syncros/transmission.
    I'll disagree, when downshifting. double clutch and rev match it. Shifter slides right in =)
    Up shifting, just wait a second for the sycros to slow down to the engine speed before shifting.

  10. #9
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    I routinely skip gears in any vehicle that permits it. I suspect I double clutched a few times in late 2001 when I rented a truck. Other than that I don't bother with that stuff. No use.
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    Registered User wrxnguyen's Avatar
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    I think all the tips posted by everyone is excellent advice. Everyone has a unique style of driving manual.

    ALWAYS put car in gear when parked! This is your car's second life line if ever your e brake decides to give out.

    DO NOT put your car in reverse when the car is in motion. That will definitely grind the gear. Ex: your on a inclined driveway parked upwards. How I do it is, leave car in neutral and release e brake: control the speed of the car with only your brakes. When u are at that flat surface where the car is not moving anymore your can now engage in reverse to continue your backing up.

    DO NOT go back into first gear EVER if you are in motion... first gear should only be used to get you going from a dead stop. You'll be surprised how easy it is to drive off in 2nd gear. As long as there is momentum the car will catch easy.

    Like I said everyone has their own style of driving. Hope these tips helps

  12. #11
    GDW
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    I rarely downshift when coming to a stop. When pointed downhill I usually start in 2.

    Shifting from 5 to 4 @80 mph and stomping the gas will cause a catastrophic failure of a Z4's ability to keep up with you.

    ETA: always in gear and braked when parked

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    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Rambo's Avatar
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    When coasting to a stop, I always left the car in gear (feet off the pedals, covering the brake) until 20mph or so, then clutch in, shift to neutral, clutch out, and brake. Just my preference.

    When parking on flats, I used the e-brake only. When parking on a slope nose up, I left it in 1st gear, or if nose down, reverse gear.

    On all corners requiring a downshift, I used heel-toe shifting with a throttle blip on the downshift. That took some practice to master, but once you've got the rhythm, it's extremely satisfying.

    My first gear wouldn't engage unless the car was stopped. That seemed to be a trait especially common in bugeyes, but others have mentioned that as well. Due to that, I always tried to time red lights so I wouldn't have to stop. I got honked at a few times when I didn't have enough revs for second gear, but was moving to quickly for first. To the *******s who honked at me for the split second pause I needed to shift into first: **** you.
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    Most important point of learning to drive a manual? Drive it. We can say anything, but you just have to drive it and learn from doing it.

  16. #15
    Registered User MOTION's Avatar
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    I have always parked in 2nd without the handbrake but I live in southeast Louisiana so I'm always on flat surfaces, when I go on trips to the mountains I still lock it in 2nd but also pull the handbrake . As for learning the best thing to do is just drive a lot and get the feel, I started driving stick when I was 7 in my dad's old e30 around our country home. Now almost 16 years later after thousands upon thousands of commuting and road trip miles, many times down the 1/4 and over 2000 road course hours later I feel I am a master in the way of the stick. Which actually makes me an awful instructor because I feel you should just be able to do it. Also I find if you do your own work on your car and actually get to do a clutch job and actually understand how it all works it makes it easier to understand what all is happening every time you change a gear. Just my .02

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