Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
PhilosophyAndrew
Posts: 454
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:06 am

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:48 pm

My first cars were all manual transmission, but when we got married my wife had only driven automatics. A few hours of lessons with a driving teacher did the trick, and so the driving school option sounds reasonable to me.

Andy.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:52 pm

It's very difficult to heel-toe some cars with the way the pedals are laid out. I'd have to have my foot nearly sideways to manage heel-toe in my current Honda Accord, and I have average sized female feet. It's changed the way I downshift when I have to brake and downshift at the same time, but it just feels unsafe to heel-toe in this car with the contortions required of my foot. Others on the Honda forums have complained about the same thing in this generation of the Accord, with many mods suggested to bring the pedals closer together, but I'm not much of a mod gal either.

longleaf
Posts: 155
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:13 pm

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by longleaf » Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:48 pm

The only time I use the emergency brake is for parking, and even then it is a bit redundant if I am shutting the engine off as I leave it in gear. My foot-pedal emergency brakes are released by hand.

I never use the emergency brake while driving. The vehicle won't choke down in the time it takes me to move my foot from brake to accelerator as I know where the clutch engages and can get near that point during the maneuver (so I don't roll back).

OP, learn to drive a manual transmission; it's fun. Don't try to save money and put yourself in an unsafe and totally avoidable position.
Frugality, indexing, time.

a2_alice
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:51 pm

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by a2_alice » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:51 pm

I’m a couple days late to the thread, but I also learned stickshift as an adult and have driven in the Azores. Honestly, it is not the place to practice your newfound skill. The roads in Ponta Delgada are narrow, cobblestone, with stone walls on either side in many places (maybe a ~1ft sidewalk). Also, it’s very hilly. The parking situation can be quite crowded. Learn stick and try it out on a road trip through the middle of the US. I’m saying this even as someone who picked it up fairly quickly.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:46 am

longleaf wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:48 pm
I never use the emergency brake while driving. The vehicle won't choke down in the time it takes me to move my foot from brake to accelerator as I know where the clutch engages and can get near that point during the maneuver (so I don't roll back).
Great that this works for you (and it's also the technique I use when the rare hill presents itself), but the OP is referring to driving a MT car in the hilly Azores with only two hours of lessons on how to use a stick shift. If the OP follows through on this, the OP would not have enough skill with a clutch to be able to reliably feel when it engages. The OP probably will still be at the stage of frequently stalling while trying to get going from an intersection. That means the clutch pedal could be in too far and the car rolls back, or the car could stall and roll back. The OP really should use the emergency brake for hill starts until more mastery of stick shift is gained to avoid accidentally rolling back into the car behind them.

alfaspider
Posts: 1532
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:44 pm

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by alfaspider » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:38 am

mikebee wrote:
Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:41 pm
Very amused at the posts.
I am an Englishman living in USA for last 10 years.
The emergency brake is called a handbrake in England and you cannot do a hill start any other way than letting the handbrake off while you let the clutch in. It really is easy once you get used to it after a few tries
You never double declutch, that went out 70 years ago with the advent of synchromesh gearboxes but a good driver will use the accelerator pedal to bring the engine revs up for a smooth change when going down a gear.
I never drive an automatic, we have three cars all manuals and I would never buy an automatic as I always like to be in the right gear at the right time.
Driving on the left (UK only, all other European countries drive like the US, on the right) would be much more difficult for you than learning a stick imo especially at roundabouts (rotarys)
Knowing how to double clutch can be very helpful if you have a car with a bad synchro.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18305
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by dm200 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:47 am

You cannot (without a lot of tinkering) do this with today's stick shift cars, but years ago, you could (and I did) start and drive a stick shift without a working clutch. Scary.

With a stick, you can also start the car without the starter working also (maybe not with some kinds of engines).

Had a '67 VW Beetle - dead battery, push up a hill a little, put in high gear - roll down the hill, engage the clutch and away you go :)

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18305
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by dm200 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:13 am


User avatar
TheGreyingDuke
Posts: 1495
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:34 am

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:45 pm

Here is an automotive mag writer's experience in learning a stick:

http://www.automobilemag.com/news/learn ... ars-event/
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

User avatar
MnyGrl
Posts: 232
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:44 pm
Location: DC

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by MnyGrl » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:30 am

fishmonger wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:54 pm
If you have a friend that has a standard (and they aren't anal about their car) I think that'd be the way to go. You can easily learn in a couple of hours.

Honestly, it's a lot of fun. I didn't learn til about 25 and my last two Tacomas have been 6 speeds
+1. Find a friend that knows how, and find a big empty parking lot where you have no pressure and lots of space. You will stall it a few hundred times before it starts to feel natural. You probably don't need a driving school, just time and patience.

Jags4186
Posts: 2463
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:46 am

dm200 wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:47 am
You cannot (without a lot of tinkering) do this with today's stick shift cars, but years ago, you could (and I did) start and drive a stick shift without a working clutch. Scary.

With a stick, you can also start the car without the starter working also (maybe not with some kinds of engines).

Had a '67 VW Beetle - dead battery, push up a hill a little, put in high gear - roll down the hill, engage the clutch and away you go :)
You can do all of this with a modern stick shift but I can't say it's good for the transmission.

alfaspider
Posts: 1532
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:44 pm

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by alfaspider » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:03 am

dm200 wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:13 am
A shrinking list - in the US

https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/researc ... li=BBnbfcL
I have a suspiciously similar list of new cars I would consider buying :D

User avatar
HomerJ
Posts: 11693
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by HomerJ » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:09 am

Silk McCue wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:23 pm
I have driven a stick for a long time. I personally wouldn’t want to rent one in a country where you sit in the “wrong” seat and on the “wrong” side of the road and shift with my left hand. And, definitely not while going into a roundabout.

Cheers
This. I drove a stick the first 15 years I drove, so I'm very comfortable with it.

But I don't think I'd want to drive sitting on the other side of the car, with the stick in my left hand.

Are the pedals reversed too? :shock:
Last edited by HomerJ on Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18305
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:17 am

Jags4186 wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:46 am
dm200 wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:47 am
You cannot (without a lot of tinkering) do this with today's stick shift cars, but years ago, you could (and I did) start and drive a stick shift without a working clutch. Scary.
With a stick, you can also start the car without the starter working also (maybe not with some kinds of engines).
Had a '67 VW Beetle - dead battery, push up a hill a little, put in high gear - roll down the hill, engage the clutch and away you go :)
You can do all of this with a modern stick shift but I can't say it's good for the transmission.
Dead and dying car batteries are much less frequent than years ago. :)

Still - push starting a stick shift car mad driving more interesting back then ;)

FlyAF
Posts: 178
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:14 am

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by FlyAF » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:36 am

smackboy1 wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:44 pm
Bfwolf wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:51 pm
There is a driving school near me that offers a 2 hour lesson for $180. They provide the car. Reviews suggest that at the end of the 2 hours, people feel comfortable enough that they could drive stick now, albeit not perfectly.

Would this be a reasonable plan of action? I suppose I could also try to use social media to see which of my friends have stick shift cars, but I don't think it's fair to wear out their clutch learning. Maybe I could practice on their car after the 2 hour lesson?
Definitely go to driving school. Don't take advice from friends or relatives. Many people think they know how to drive a manual but actually do not, which compromises safety and causes excessive wear and tear. Learn good habits from the start like how to use the handbrake, not riding the clutch, not resting your hand on the shifter, not coasting, proper downshifting etc..
Out of curiosity, what is the problem with coasting?

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Mudpuppy » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:17 am

FlyAF wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:36 am
Out of curiosity, what is the problem with coasting?
Coasting in this context most likely means having the manual transmission in neutral, rather than in gear, while moving down the road. For example, some people put their car in neutral when going down a hill, instead of just letting off the gas pedal. If you need to react rapidly, you can't really do that while in neutral. You should minimize your times in neutral while the car is in motion (basically neutral should be used for changing gears).

Jags4186
Posts: 2463
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:20 am

FlyAF wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:36 am
smackboy1 wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:44 pm
Bfwolf wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:51 pm
There is a driving school near me that offers a 2 hour lesson for $180. They provide the car. Reviews suggest that at the end of the 2 hours, people feel comfortable enough that they could drive stick now, albeit not perfectly.

Would this be a reasonable plan of action? I suppose I could also try to use social media to see which of my friends have stick shift cars, but I don't think it's fair to wear out their clutch learning. Maybe I could practice on their car after the 2 hour lesson?
Definitely go to driving school. Don't take advice from friends or relatives. Many people think they know how to drive a manual but actually do not, which compromises safety and causes excessive wear and tear. Learn good habits from the start like how to use the handbrake, not riding the clutch, not resting your hand on the shifter, not coasting, proper downshifting etc..
Out of curiosity, what is the problem with coasting?
People believe coasting saves gas. It doesn't. If you're coasting in gear, the engine needs no fuel to keep the pistons moving. If you're coasting, the engine needs to keep the engine idling. In addition, in the event you need to accelerate quickly you would have a much slower reaction time vs already being in gear. You also lose the added benefit of engine breaking by being in neutral.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18305
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:30 pm

Coasting can, as best I understand, be less safe because the car is not as stable as under power.

Proper (and safe) manual transmission usage also includes downshifting through the gears as you slow down and stop.

User avatar
TheGreyingDuke
Posts: 1495
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:34 am

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:54 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:47 am
You cannot (without a lot of tinkering) do this with today's stick shift cars, but years ago, you could (and I did) start and drive a stick shift without a working clutch. Scary.
Years ago I was the proud owner of a Porsche 356, I was leaving my parents' home in Nj to drive back to Charlottesville when, after the first few miles, the clutch cable snapped. Returning to their home was out of the question so I proceeded down to Charlottesville (280 miles or so) without a clutch. Shifting, especially up, was easy, get it at the right revs and in she went.

The hardest part was the toll booths, I would shut the car off and then start it in gear (2nd) and was on my way. That was a rugged old beast.
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

User avatar
TheGreyingDuke
Posts: 1495
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:34 am

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:56 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:30 pm

Proper (and safe) manual transmission usage also includes downshifting through the gears as you slow down and stop.
Brakes are cheaper than clutches,
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

sls239
Posts: 928
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:04 pm

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by sls239 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:03 pm

I taught my spouse how to drive my car, which was a manual transmission because we were going to France and I was technically too young to rent the car myself.

We get there and it isn't just a manual transmission, it is also a diesel, parked in a gravel lot on an incline.

So I ended up driving anyway.

Just pay the money.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18305
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by dm200 » Tue May 01, 2018 7:37 am

TheGreyingDuke wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:56 pm
dm200 wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:30 pm
Proper (and safe) manual transmission usage also includes downshifting through the gears as you slow down and stop.
Brakes are cheaper than clutches,
I do not believe proper downshifting is harmful to the clutch. Proper downshifting is also safer (you are in better control of the car).

tibbitts
Posts: 8005
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by tibbitts » Tue May 01, 2018 7:56 am

dm200 wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 7:37 am
TheGreyingDuke wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:56 pm
dm200 wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:30 pm
Proper (and safe) manual transmission usage also includes downshifting through the gears as you slow down and stop.
Brakes are cheaper than clutches,
I do not believe proper downshifting is harmful to the clutch. Proper downshifting is also safer (you are in better control of the car).
I believe you can argue that there is more wear on the throw-out bearing and clutch friction surface every time you use the clutch, and if you don't use the clutch, there will definitely be more wear and tear on everything else. So while harmful might be too strong a word, more wear will occur. In normal driving I don't believe there is any difference in car control, although I'm talking about just coming to a normal stop on pavement here. When I had a manual, I would only downshift when the engine rpm would drop too low - which is pretty low speed - unless I was going to have to accelerate again. Obviously when descending a grade, etc. downshifting can vastly improve the situation. Most automatics don't downshift too quickly upon deceleration either, and nobody experiences loss of control there.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 7783
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue May 01, 2018 8:18 am

Mudpuppy wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:52 pm
It's very difficult to heel-toe some cars with the way the pedals are laid out. I'd have to have my foot nearly sideways to manage heel-toe in my current Honda Accord, and I have average sized female feet. It's changed the way I downshift when I have to brake and downshift at the same time, but it just feels unsafe to heel-toe in this car with the contortions required of my foot. Others on the Honda forums have complained about the same thing in this generation of the Accord, with many mods suggested to bring the pedals closer together, but I'm not much of a mod gal either.
Depends how exactly you heel/toe. Most common is to side step the brake and blip the throttle as needed.

How I've always done it is to use my heel on the brake and toe to the top of the gas pedal. Having instructed with 3 different HPDE clubs, I've driven hundreds of student's cars and have only had difficulty with bottom hinged pedals like BMW 2002 and air cooled Porsche 911.

There is a third way, which is to heel on the bottom of the gas pedal and toe to brake. I've tried this and it gives more control of the brake but close to no control of the gas.

I will agree that some cars are laid out better to easily do heel and toe braking. My Lotus Elise was by far the best I've ever experienced.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

smackboy1
Posts: 998
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:41 pm

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by smackboy1 » Tue May 01, 2018 11:05 am

FlyAF wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:36 am
Out of curiosity, what is the problem with coasting?
Coasting: meaning the engine is disconnected from the drive wheels, either by holding the clutch pedal down for extended period, or leaving the transmission in neutral while the car is moving.

It's bad because the driver has no ability to immediately accelerate the car. There has to be another step before power can be applied. Time delay is one problem. The other problem is that the re-engagement of the engine to the wheels could upset the balance of the car. Imagine driving in the rain or ice and needing to both accelerate and turn. The delay in applying power would obviously be bad. If the re-engagement of the clutch and the rev match between the flywheel and the clutch plate is not perfectly smooth, the sudden hiccup in the drivetrain or change in weight distribution of the car could cause the tires to lose traction.

For all the same reasons I also do not like to change gears in the middle of a turn. I downshift before the turn and upshift exiting the turn because I don't want to risk losing traction in the middle of the turn.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

FlyAF
Posts: 178
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:14 am

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by FlyAF » Tue May 01, 2018 11:12 am

smackboy1 wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 11:05 am
FlyAF wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:36 am
Out of curiosity, what is the problem with coasting?
Coasting: meaning the engine is disconnected from the drive wheels, either by holding the clutch pedal down for extended period, or leaving the transmission in neutral while the car is moving.
Yeah I'm aware of what coasting is, was just curious why so many treat it like it's some death defying stunt. I'll coast getting off the hwy and such, nobody dies. I've driven and raced manual transmission vehicles (2 and 4 wheels) my entire life. Some of the responses in this thread just seemed a little silly to me for casual street driving with all the "rules." Nobody is trying to qualify for LeMans in their civic/mustang/etc....

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18305
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by dm200 » Tue May 01, 2018 11:14 am

FlyAF wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 11:12 am
smackboy1 wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 11:05 am
FlyAF wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:36 am
Out of curiosity, what is the problem with coasting?
Coasting: meaning the engine is disconnected from the drive wheels, either by holding the clutch pedal down for extended period, or leaving the transmission in neutral while the car is moving.
Yeah I'm aware of what coasting is, was just curious why so many treat it like it's some death defying stunt. I'll coast getting off the hwy and such, nobody dies. I've driven and raced manual transmission vehicles (2 and 4 wheels) my entire life. Some of the responses in this thread just seemed a little silly to me for casual street driving with all the "rules." Nobody is trying to qualify for LeMans in their civic/mustang/etc....
Sure - have done it from time to time over the years -

Post Reply