How To Drive a Stick Shift (Manual Car) in 9 Easy Steps – Here’s How To Drive a Manual Car
Take our free sample driving test — no registration required! Be fully prepared in days, not weeks with Premium. Before you begin to drive a stick shift, you need to understand how this type of car differs from cars with automatic transmissions. Clutch, gas and brake pedals in a car with a manual transmission. The first pedal on the left is the clutch. This pedal appears only in cars with manual transmissions. The middle pedal is the brake. The right pedal is the accelerator.
You will use your left foot for the clutch and your right foot for the brake and accelerator. When you push in the clutch, or step down with your left foot on the clutch pedal, you are disengaging the assembly. When you are lifting your foot off the clutch pedal, the friction of the assembly starts moving, causing your vehicle to move forward. Before starting the car, take a look at the gear shifter. Most cars with manual transmissions have a gear shifter in the middle of the passenger and driver seats.
Typical 5 speed manual gear shifter. First gear is typically located at the top left corner and the remaining four or five gears rotate from top to bottom, left to right. The gear locations will be clearly marked on most stick shift vehicles. If the gear shift is located in the center, the car will be in neutral, at which point you should be able to easily move the gear shifter back and forth.
To start a stick shift, first press the clutch all the way to the floor board with your left foot. Ensure that the gear shifter is in the neutral position then turn the ignition with the key. If you are certain that the car is in neutral, you can remove your foot from the clutch. Ensure that the parking or emergency brake is not in use. To prepare to drive the manual vehicle, press the clutch with your left foot and the brake, or the center pedal, with your right foot.
Next, position the gear shifter so that the transmission is in the first gear. Again, this should be the position furthest to the left and at the top half of the gear box. Remove your right foot from the brake pedal. If you are on a flat surface, which is ideal for your first attempt, the vehicle should move very little. Slowly begin to place less pressure on the clutch with your left foot.
Depending on the vehicle, you may feel it begin to slowly roll forward. As you gently release the clutch, begin to press the accelerator with your right foot. This is a delicate motion. Do not accelerate your vehicle excessively. Remember that first gear is only designed for speeds up to about fifteen miles per hour.
At some point, you will have released the clutch completely and will only be pressing the accelerator with your right foot. You will be driving in first gear. Continue to build speed until you feel that you need to shift into second gear. As the car reaches a new speed bracket you need to change the gear up one. Take your right foot off of the accelerator while simultaneously activating the clutch with your left foot.
The shifter – The shifter is located directly above the transmission, typically in the center of the vehicle, between the driver and the passenger seat. You will operate the shifter with your hand to change and select the desired gear in the transmission.
You will use the shifter to select Reverse, Neutral, 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd gear, and so on The clutch pedal – The clutch pedal is located directly to the left of the brake pedal. To be operated with your left foot. If the clutch pedal is in the up position toward the driver then the transmission is connected to the engine and the vehicle will be propelled by the engine if placed in a forward or reverse gear.
If the clutch pedal is in the down position toward the floorboard then the engine and the transmission will not be connected and the vehicle will not receive power from the engine. The parking brake is NOT to be confused with the brake pedal. The parking brake is what keeps the vehicle from rolling while placed in neutral if the brake pedal is not depressed. The parking brake is what will be used to keep the vehicle stationary while the ignition is off and the vehicle is parked.
Start on level ground with the car off, the transmission is in neutral, and the parking brake engaged. Especially if this is your first time driving a car with a manual transmission, start slowly and methodically.
Put your seat belt on once you sit down. While learning, it can be useful to roll down the windows. This helps you hear the sound of the engine revving and to shift gears accordingly. This layout is the same for both left-hand drive and right-hand drive vehicles.
Learn what the clutch does. Before you start pushing down on this unfamiliar pedal on the left, take a moment to figure out the basics of its function. When one or both are spinning, the clutch allows you to switch gears without grinding the teeth of each separate gear.
Before you change gears either to move up or down , the clutch must be depressed pushed. Slide forward enough to allow you to press the clutch pedal the left pedal, next to the brake pedal fully to the floor with your left foot. Press the clutch pedal and hold it to the floor.
This would also be a good time to take note of how the travel of the clutch pedal differs from that of the brake and gas. Move the gearstick into neutral.
This is the middle position that feels free when moved from side to side. Start the engine with the key in the ignition, making sure the gear stick is still in neutral. Make sure the handbrake is on before starting the car, especially if you are a novice. Remove your foot from the clutch pedal with the car still in neutral. Part 2. Press the clutch to the floor and move the gearstick into first gear.
It should be the upper-left position, and there should be some kind of visual layout of the gear pattern on top of the gearstick. You may want to practice shifting through the various gears with the engine switched off and the clutch engaged.
Slowly lift your foot up from the clutch pedal. Continue until you hear the engine speed begin to drop, then push it back in. Repeat this several times until you can instantly recognize the sound.
This is the friction point. Let up on the clutch while pushing down on the accelerator. In order to get moving, lift your left foot up from the clutch pedal until the RPMs drop slightly. At the same instant, apply light pressure to the accelerator with your right foot.
Balance the light downward pressure on the accelerator with slowly releasing pressure on the clutch pedal. You will probably have to do this several times to find the right combination of up and down pressure. At this point the car will start to move. It is best to have the engine rev just enough to prevent stalling as the clutch pedal is let up.
This process may be a little difficult at first because you are new to the extra pedal in a manual car. Release the clutch fully that is, slowly remove your foot from the pedal once you start moving forward under control in first gear. If you release the clutch too quickly the engine will stall. If the engine sounds like it is going to stall, hold the clutch where it is or push down a bit further.
If you do stall, depress the clutch fully, apply the handbrake, put the car in neutral, switch the engine off and restart the car as normal. This is called riding the clutch and should be avoided.
Part 3. When your RPM reaches about to while the car is in motion, it is time to shift to the next gear — for example, second gear if you are currently in first. The actual RPMs at which shifting is required will vary by the car you are driving, however. Your engine will begin to race and speed up, and you must learn to recognize this noise. Some cars have a “Shift Light” or indications on the tachometer that will tell you when you need to shift, so you don’t rev the engine too fast.
Push down on the accelerator very slightly and slowly release the clutch pedal. Shifting gears in motion is the same as shifting into first from a stationary position. Resting your foot on the clutch pedal is a bad habit, as it applies pressure to the clutch mechanism — and the increased pressure will cause the clutch to wear out prematurely. Shift down into a lower gear as you slow down. To shift down gears while in motion, follow the same process of depressing the clutch and releasing the accelerator, shifting gears say, from third to second , and letting off the clutch while depressing the accelerator.
Come to a complete stop. To come to a stop in a fully controlled manner, shift down gradually until you reach first gear. Press the clutch pedal fully down and move the gearstick into neutral to prevent stalling the car. Use the brake pedal to stop completely.
This should only be done when you need to stop quickly, though, as it puts you in less control of the vehicle. Part 4. Practice on an easy course with an experienced manual driver.
Start off in a flat, isolated area like a large and empty car park, then move on to quiet suburban streets. Drive around the same circuit repeatedly until you start to remember the various skills involved. Avoid stopping and starting on steep hills initially. Your timing and coordination in working the gear stick, clutch, brake, and accelerator needs to be fairly sharp in order to avoid drifting backwards when you shift into first gear. You can use the parking brake to limit backward drifting if necessary, but always remember to disengage it as you start moving forward.
Learn parking procedures , especially on hills. But, simply putting the car in neutral opens the possibility of your car rolling freely, especially if parked on an incline or decline. If facing downhill, do the same but shift into reverse. This will prevent the wheels from rolling in the direction of the slope. On extreme inclines, or simply to be extra cautious, you can also place chocks angled blocks behind your wheels to prevent movement. Stop completely before changing from forward to reverse and vice versa.
Making a complete stop when changing directions is an easy way to reduce your likelihood of causing expensive damage to your gearbox. However, it is possible on most manual transmissions to shift into first or possibly second when the car is moving backwards at a slow speed, but it is not recommended as this can cause excessive wear on the clutch. In some cars, reverse gear has a lock out mechanism to prevent you for engaging it accidentally. Before using the reverse gear, make sure you know about this locking mechanism and how to disengage it before selecting reverse.
As soon as possible. The first gear is really only made for starting to get moving or for driving very slow. We’re glad this was helpful. Thank you for your feedback. Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Claim Your Gift If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. Support wikiHow Yes No. Not Helpful 42 Helpful Press the clutch pedal down and release the accelerator pedal at the same time.
On a vehicle with a manual transmission the point.How Manual Transmissions Work