Being a first-time driver is scary enough, but what about trying to drive a stick shift? Driving a car with a manual transmission can be intimidating, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips for beginners when driving a stick shift!
Avoid Riding the Clutch Pedal
One simple tip to prevent transmission problems is to avoid riding the clutch pedal. When you’re first learning to drive a stick shift vehicle, it’s easy to let your foot linger on the clutch pedal, but this isn’t good for the vehicle.
The process for downshifting and upshifting is very similar. As you’re preparing to shift gears, press the pedal completely to the ground, move the shifter, and simultaneously gradually let off the clutch pedal while slowly pressing on the gas. Once you’re done shifting, make sure your foot isn’t pressing on the clutch pedal at all because this can damage the transmission when done very frequently.
Understanding Which Gear Coincides With Which Speeds
One of the most important tips you must remember when driving a stick shift as a beginner is which gear coincides with which speeds. Here’s a quick list to keep in mind before you start driving:
- 1st gear: 0–10 mph
- 2nd gear: 10–20 mph
- 3rd gear: 20–30 mph
- 4th gear: 30–40 mph
- 5th and 6th gear: 40 mph and above
Move Your Hand From the Shifter When You Aren’t Shifting
Manual transmissions can be delicate pieces of machinery. The wrong moves have a much larger impact than you might expect.
It can feel comfortable to keep your hand on the shifter. But if you’re not actively shifting, your hand is applying pressure to the clutch plate that can cause damage over time. It’s best to only put your hand on the shifter when you’re actively preparing to shift gears.
Place the Car in Neutral When Stopped
Some drivers are ready to take off full speed ahead after stopping at a stop sign or traffic light. They will keep their car in first gear with their foot on the clutch pedal and hand on the shifter. This isn’t safe for the driver or the vehicle. Instead, it’s best to come to a complete stop at any traffic light or stop sign by placing the car in neutral.
Sit in a Comfortable Position
Cars with manual transmissions don’t have the luxury of automatic shifting. You need to be prepared for your next move.
You want to sit low with your knees slightly bent. Since you’ll move your feet frequently between the clutch, brake, and gas pedal, you’ll need ample space to move below the seat. You don’t want to feel like you’re stretching to reach the pedals. All pedals should be easily accessible.
Take your time and learn as much as you can before sitting behind the wheel of a stick shift. You’ll get the hang of it quicker than you might expect!