Learning to drive a car with a manual transmission, or learning to drive stick, can be very difficult at first. There are several challenges to navigate including learning how to use three different pedals and knowing exactly how and when to shift to avoid stalling and other dangers. While nothing substitutes for experience on the road, we’ll go over some basic tips that will help you drive stick.
1. Practice the steps to learn to drive stick
In order to drive a car with a manual transmission, there are certain steps you need to follow. Practice these steps over and over until they become natural. Many say learning to drive stick is just like learning to ride a bike. It’s tough at first, but once you get it, you get it.
- Ensure the emergency brake is on and that you’re on even ground.
- Using your left foot, press the clutch pedal down all the way.
- Keep the gearshift in neutral. If you can move it around freely and it’s in the middle, you’re in neutral.
- Start the car
- Stick the car in first gear while keeping your left foot on the clutch.
- While holding the brake with your right foot, disengage the emergency brake
- Take a quick peek at all your mirrors to make sure the coast is clear
- Gradually lift your left foot from the clutch and simultaneously push down on the acceleration with your right foot. One of the hardest parts about driving stick is learning to let off the clutch while you push down on the accelerator.
- To shift gears, take your foot off the accelerator. Press on the clutch, shift, and then gradually release the clutch as you accelerate.
- Take your foot off the clutch. When you are in gear, you don’t need to have your foot on the clutch.
- To brake, you can push on the brake and the clutch or shift down. If you slow down to less than 10 mph, you can stick it in neutral.
2. Practice in an open space
Driving stick can be pretty complicated when you are learning, so don’t try to get out on the road before you know what you’re doing. Find a big empty parking lot if possible. Many churches have open lots during the week when they don’t have services. You might also be able to practice on a non-busy country road.
3. Drive when it’s less busy
While you’re learning, it’s smart to avoid rush hour. If you stall out in the middle of busy traffic, things could get dicey. Once you get a decent grasp on how to drive stick, you may want to gradually start practicing your skills in heavier traffic. At some point, you’ll need to know how to drive in it, so it can’t hurt to get a head start on it. Again, just be careful that you’ve got the basics down pretty well first.
4. Just keep practicing
Once you’ve practiced the steps, practice some more. Don’t get frustrated. A lot of learning will come by making some mistakes. If you stall in traffic, put your emergency flashers on and emergency brake and carefully start back up again. Enjoy the ride, even if it is a bumpy one at first.
Whether you’re just learning or have had years of experience, it’s always important to drive defensively. For help, visit defensive driving El Paso TX.