Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

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Bfwolf
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Learning to drive a stick [car with manual transmission]

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:51 pm

I know how to drive an automatic transmission but don't know how to drive stick. I have a trip to the Azores coming up where the difference between a manual car and an automatic is about $280. I also travel a fair bit every year these days and in the last couple of years have paid a significant premium to rent automatics in Europe. I'm wondering if it's time to learn to drive stick.

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?
Last edited by Bfwolf on Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

fishmonger
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by fishmonger » 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

alfaspider
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by alfaspider » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:55 pm

I agree that sounds like a reasonable option. While a properly instructed student should not put much of any wear on the clutch while learning, I would still be less than enthusiastic about volunteering one of my cars for the purpose. Two hours should be enough to gain basic competence, but be warned that getting comfortable on hill starts will take quite a bit longer. I daily drove a stick for several months before I was fully comfortable starting on a steep hill. Many newer cars with a stick will have a "hill hold" feature that makes things considerably easier.

Mastering driving a stick can take much longer, but that's part of the fun. It took me 2-3 years before learning double clutching and rev matching. I daily drove stick for the better part of a decade before adding heel-toe downshifts to my regular routine.

jeep5ter
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by jeep5ter » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:03 pm

Yes, it is worth that much to learn on someone else's clutch. Be warned, however, that once you learn you will want to own one.

jminv
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by jminv » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:04 pm

I learned to drive stick when I was 16 and have always had one since. My dad drove us to the bottom of a very big hill, told me to switch places, and to drive up the hill stopping ten times. That was the sum of my lessons. The rest was getting more and more comfortable driving stick myself.

It's come in handy living outside the US and as you mentioned, for ex-USA car rentals. Two hours is enough to have the general idea down but maybe not to be comfortable in traffic or if stopped on a hill. Hill starts aren't as much as an issue as they used to be as I've noticed many of the cars in Europe now have anti-rollback standard (your car won't roll back anymore when you release clutch). At least in Europe most people will give you some room behind you because they are aware of the rollback - not the case in the states!

FYI, some European sticks have a reverse where you have to pull up on a metal disc on the shifter and then shift into reverse. The first time I drove a car like this, I didn't realize i had a problem until I wanted to reverse an hour later! I had only driven on the depress to reverse as well as a regular position to reverse.

You could also buy a manual beater car in the states, drive it for a few weeks, and then sell it. I would suggest friends but most friends wouldn't want you learning on their cars.

ResearchMed
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:21 pm

Or rent a beater for a weekend and just drive it around on and off, giving yourself time to adjust, perhaps after a lesson.

I'd suggest *not* borrowing friends' cars to practice this, if you want to keep the friends!

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Watty
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Watty » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:25 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.
That sounds reasonable for driving stick in a economy car.

That is a good skill to have since even if you have reserved an automatic they might not actually have one when you show up at the rental counter.

One problem is that some of the rental cars I have gotten have had a bad clutch probably from being abused by prior renters that did not know how to drive a clutch. When you pick up a rental car evaluate it right away and take it right back if the clutch has problems. It is very possible that if the clutch gives out when you are driving it, even from prior abuse, that the rental car company will charge you for that.

In some countries like Ireland you will be driving on the left and shifting with your left hand which made it more challenging when I did that. Now I would definitely pay extra to rent an automatic in a country where they drive on the left.

I have not been to the Azores but I know someone that was stationed on the military base there for a long time. From seeing their pictures my impression is that a lot of it is VERY hilly so you should look into that. It could be that the Azores would be a bad place to try to learn to drive a clutch.

One thing to watch for when you first return to the US is that at first you will be so used to shifting gears that you may reach down and start to shift the automatic transmission lever in your car.

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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by hicabob » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:27 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:21 pm
Or rent a beater for a weekend and just drive it around on and off, giving yourself time to adjust, perhaps after a lesson.

I'd suggest *not* borrowing friends' cars to practice this, if you want to keep the friends!

RM
Only sticks I've seen for rent in the US are exotics. A "hill holder" transmission does make things a lot easier. Having taught 2 kids to drive stick the distinctive smell of the clutch frying when practicing starting on steep hills is burnt into my olfactory memory. (it smells like a parking brake does when left on for a few miles). I agree that the $180 for car + instructor sounds like a good start.

StrangePenguin
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by StrangePenguin » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:28 pm

I want to add a dose of realism here. I don't doubt that some people just pick it up quickly, but not everybody is going to be comfortable driving manual after 2 hours of lessons. Just before I moved to Europe, I got some brief lessons from a relative (like maybe an hour or two) and although it was useful to familiarize myself with the concepts, I did not leave that hour or two with any ability to functionally drive. Once I got over there, I spent a long Easter weekend (maybe half a day or so on each of 3 or 4 days) before I got to the point of "I can drive on a public road". It took me months of regular driving on rural roads before I tried to drive in significant traffic. Granted I had no formal teacher for most of this.

My wife never really did learn to be proficient at driving manual, and then we gave up and got an automatic car.

Later I gave a few other Americans lessons. I would say that in an hour or two they made progress but in at least one case it took them maybe 5-10 "hour or two" sessions to be able to get out on public roads.

A lot of it just depends on your natural aptitude for mechanical things and hand/foot coordination, as well as your propensity for suffering from anxiety in traffic.

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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:30 pm

You need to know how to learn to drive manual?

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smackboy1
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by smackboy1 » 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..

Before driving overseas, where people can drive very aggressively and also on the other side of the road, I would practice more than 2 hours. Practice over and over again: hill starts, parallel parking on a hill, launching the car from a standstill, stop and go traffic, etc.. You want to be absolutely confident you are able to launch the car with maximum acceleration on a hill for those "Oh sh!t" moments. I would not borrow a friend's car if you want them to remain your friend. All that practice will cause excessive wear on their clutch, which can be expensive to replace. Rent a car to practice on, or offer to replace your friend's clutch when you are done.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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Svensk Anga
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Svensk Anga » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:46 pm

I think you should be fairly competent after 2 hours unless you are a complete clutz. I taught my kids in what seems now like 20 minutes each, but that was some time ago.

Different cars have varying degrees of difficulty. In my experience, compact pick-up is easier than sedan which is in turn easier than sports car. My truck had very long clutch pedal travel, so it wasn't too sensitive to where you let it up while getting underway. The sports car is likely to have a smaller range where you can get it going without stalling. Ideally, your driving school would have a very easy car to start with and something more challenging for the final exam.

Re:. Hill starts. Every manual transmission car I have driven has had a hand operated emergency brake. Use it to hold the car in place while your feet are busy with clutch and accelerator.

After you get the basics down reasonably well, you could practice by test driving various dealership cars.

barnaclebob
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:58 pm

I had about 15 minutes of "lessons" before being turned loose on my cousins beater van. Once I got going, shifting was absolutely no problem, but I did kill the engine quite a few times from not being good at starting.

Dottie57
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Dottie57 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:03 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:51 pm
I know how to drive an automatic transmission but don't know how to drive stick. I have a trip to the Azores coming up where the difference between a manual car and an automatic is about $280. I also travel a fair bit every year these days and in the last couple of years have paid a significant premium to rent automatics in Europe. I'm wondering if it's time to learn to drive stick.

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?
When I wanted to learn, I took a driving lesson from a driving school. I think lessons are a good idea. I do suggest you practice BEFORE you need to use on your trip. Find a friend who will drive with you several times before you go. You will be happy you did. Or Else get the automatic transmission.

ResearchMed
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:04 pm

I suspect there is considerable variability in "the time it takes to get comfortable driving a stick shift".

So be prepared to take however long it takes YOU to "feel comfortable".

It probably depends on quite a few things... eye/hand/foot/leg coordination; general confidence driving; general confidence, period; probably the specific car used; and just "how fast it goes for you".

RM
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Rupert
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Rupert » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:06 pm

I agree that the class with a professional instructor is the way to go but also agree that practicing more than 2 hours is absolutely necessary. You can learn to drive stick in 2 hours, but you can't actually drive stick well after only 2 hours of instruction -- if that makes sense. The Azores is very rural, very hilly, and you might find yourself stuck on a hill waiting for a herd of goats to clear the road (ask me how I know).

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onthecusp
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by onthecusp » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:11 pm

I learned by borrowing a friend's car. He didn't know! I don't recommend that, but I had a very good idea of the basic concept and everything was great until that steep hill with a stop sign. Getting a lesson is a good idea.

Realize that different cars will act a little differently. Some clutches engage low (just off the floor) and others higher (near the top). I would expect a professional to teach you to feel the engagement, not just go by position. They are bound to bring you to a hill as well. You will stall the engine occasionally, your not damaging anything.

arf1410
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by arf1410 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:17 pm

DON'T DO IT!

I drive a stick on holiday overseas, but I've been driving one on and off for 30 years. the first 6-12 months with a stick will be a bit stressful, in particular with hills and traffic. It is simply not worth the added stress for a "newbie" to be driving a stick in a foreign land.

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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Silk McCue » 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

Jags4186
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Jags4186 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:23 pm

For a $100 difference you should just get the automatic rental instead of taking the lessons. It’s one thing to be driving stick on the highway. New drivers as soon as they get into a stressful situation, have to attack a hill where people are right behind you, have to deal with aggressive foreign drivers, deal with stop and go traffic... it takes months to master that in the United States. You’ll also be bombarded with international street signs—all of which are different than US street signs. Good luck figuring out what’s do no enter, no parking, no standing. It’s not intuitive. Also, god forbid you have to go in reverse. Reverse is the most uncomfortable and diffiult thing to learn to do with a manual transmission.

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whodidntante
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by whodidntante » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:25 pm

The course is a reasonable cost if it is one on one. Otherwise, ask a friend to teach you. I have owned several manual transmission cars and I've taught several people. It's not enough to know how, you have to practice.

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MP123
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by MP123 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:26 pm

You could learn the basics in 2 hours but it will take quite a bit more practice before it becomes instinctive.

Stalling the engine while trying to get started on a steep hill with cars right behind you will get very interesting very fast. I understand there are lots of steep hills in the Azores...

It's certainly a worthy goal and I'm sure you can do it but maybe it would be best to have a little less stress on your trip. Or take the class and see how it goes before committing to a rental.

khangaroo
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by khangaroo » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:26 pm

It helps to read up on how to drive stick and watch YouTube videos so that you understand how the clutch and manual transmission system works.

I learned on a Honda S2000 that I bought from CarMax - drove it off the lot in first gear since I wasn't 100% comfortable with shifting and then my dad taught me in a Lowe's parking lot right next to it.

There are car sharing services like Turo that let you rent other people's cars. I would suggest getting a friend who can teach you and then renting a manual car - it'll probably be cheaper than $180 for 2 hours. Depending on your skill level and prior knowledge, I feel like 2 hours will get you the bare minimum. It probably took me like a solid 5 hours of driving to feel comfortable to go up hills, parking, reversing, and feeling like I'm not gonna kill it at every start. It definitely helped that I rode motorcycles with their clutch system.

So learn and read as much as you can and then just go out and practice!

Best of luck, driving manual is super fun!

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whodidntante
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by whodidntante » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:27 pm

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
I rented a car in the UK and drove quite a bit while there. It felt surprisingly natural. YMMV

N10sive
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by N10sive » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:27 pm

I took a motorcycle instruction class for two days, roughly 12 hours of actual riding. I was confident to drive in traffic after this class. I would recommend a lot more than 2 hours of instruction or experience if going overseas to drive where rules of the road are very different. Add to the fact you maybe driving in the other seat and shifting with your left hand it may not be worth the risk. It is however good to know how to drive a manual.

A lot of my friends drive sticks so its good to know anyways if there is ever an emergency and you have to drive a manual vehicle.

There are tricks you can learn for starting on a hill and some I still implement even with over 15 years of driving manual vehicles.

ncbill
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by ncbill » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:38 pm

I'd pay the extra.

You won't really learn how to drive stick decently unless you're doing it all the time, now.

It's not the time to try and deal with stick, in a foreign land.

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lthenderson
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by lthenderson » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:49 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:23 pm
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.
I thought this would be an issue too but surprisingly, it was the easiest part of the experience of driving on the "wrong" side of the car and road. But then I grew up on a farm and was driving a manual transmission as soon as I could reach the pedals and see over the dash. I found I had more problems backing out of parking spaces onto the right left side of the road. For some reason, my brain never could get that straight. Going forwards, I never had a problem, only in reverse.

jeep5ter
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by jeep5ter » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:54 pm

Honestly, the key to driving a manual is learning where the clutch engagement point is during the pedal travel. Every vehicle is slightly different but muscle memory will kick in shortly. Knowing when to shift; the pitch of the engine noise will make it obvious. It is a handy skill to have, and these days, a manual transmission in a vehicle is practically an anti-theft device all its own.

Bfwolf
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:06 pm

Some points of clarification:

The Azores are part of Portugal and drive on the same side of the road as the USA.

I've never been to the Azores, but as another poster mentioned, they are very hilly but also pretty rural. So the hills may be a challenge, but I'm unlikely to be holding up a lot of traffic.

I have driven in other countries before with an automatic, even on the "wrong" side of the road, so driving internationally will not be a new challenge to me.

I don't own a car in the USA currently and have no immediate plans to purchase one. But I have owned cars in the past so have plenty of experience of driving an automatic.

I live in Chicago, which is very flat, so practicing for hills is going to be difficult to do.

I like the idea of doing the lesson and then renting a car here in the USA to practice. But I did a search on Kayak and didn't see any manuals for rent in Chicago? I suppose Turo is an option, but I am nervous about the idea of showing up to meet a private owner and driving off in their manual with them watching while I am still in the learning phase....

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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Colorado13 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:08 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:21 pm
Or rent a beater for a weekend and just drive it around on and off, giving yourself time to adjust, perhaps after a lesson.

I'd suggest *not* borrowing friends' cars to practice this, if you want to keep the friends!

RM
+ 100 to not borrowing a friend's car! I learned at about age 15, but two hours doesn't seem like a significant amount of experience. Also, I don't recommend taking lessons from my brother, as wonderful as he is...

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:27 pm

Turo requires you to sign that you are completely proficient at driving a manual. Any damage to the drivetrain is assumed to have been caused by the renter who if fully responsible for all repairs.

I wouldn't sign that and have had manual cars since 1973 and instructed on the track.
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Broken Man 1999
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:28 pm

All my daughters first vehicles were stick shift. They learned to drive in a local school parking lot in my 1992 Nissan Sentra. I didn't suffer permanent whiplash, but I sure learned just how heavy duty the clutch was on that car. No damage at all. :shock:

Wife learned how to drive a stick shift in HS as her mother had a VW. But our second car was a bit different, shift on the column. That gave her fits for a while but she learned, finally.

I learned at a tender age how to drive a tractor, all of the tractors we had were stick. All the cars that were driven by me primarily were all stick shifts.

The only way to really learn is to just practice. Formal lessons might be the best choice, to save friendships. I would think a complete novice would need more than a couple hours, also.

Broken Man 1999
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ClevrChico
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by ClevrChico » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:31 pm

I'd go with the auto in a foreign country that you're not familiar with.

If you want to become proficient with a manual transmission, best to buy a car with one and learn. This is definitely not something you want to learn on someone else's car.
Last edited by ClevrChico on Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

longleaf
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by longleaf » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:31 pm

I would consider shifting with the left hand in European vehicles to be a significant difference from the typical American car.

I learned how to drive on a manual transmission and hate driving automatics. Don’t start in an urban setting. Preferably find an area that you know well and is minimal traffic so that you can focus on learning the skill.

It has become difficult to get manufacturers to produce vehicles with manual transmissions in America. They now stuff them full of computers and gadgets (which some may consider to interfere with naturally driving a manual transmission), so I don’t purchase new vehicles!
Last edited by longleaf on Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Epsilon Delta » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:31 pm

If you rent a car in the Azores and find you are shifting with your left hand something is very, very wrong.

If you decide to learn get professional instruction. Most people who drive a manual have random bad habits and certainly don't know how to teach.

IMHO a two hour course should be sufficient. When I learned to drive after two hours I was driving in traffic, and that was starting from scratch, well almost, I did have my cycling proficiency badge.

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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by tibbitts » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:44 pm

This seems like a misguided attempt to save money. It took me months of practicing almost every day to be comfortable driving a standard transmission, and the problem here is compounded by being in unfamiliar territory. My guess is to give it a few years and the last of the manual transmissions will be almost gone - well a few will hang around, like film cameras in photography, but otherwise they'll be gone, even in Europe.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:51 pm

May as well learn how, regardless of if you rent an auto or manual in a foreign land. If you travel a lot, it'd be nice to know you understand how to do it in an emergency.

For your first time, do the course. If you use a friend's car, the first time they smell their clutch burning, make sure you watch to see how they twitch uncomfortably...you may learn their tell for the next time you play cards w/ them. :)

Traveler
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Traveler » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:01 pm

I'm going to the Azores next month and ran into the same problem. On one of the islands I can't even get an automatic car. I've tried to learn how to drive a stick and gave up decades ago. So I will pay the extra on the one island and wing it on the second island. Good luck!

MJS
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by MJS » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:30 pm

The Azores drive on the right side of the road, while the USA drives on the left. Combining stick with "wrong side" driving with local custom is very challenging.

My car has a manual transmission, but I rented an automatic in New Zealand (Right side drivers). Having one less distraction was cheap insurance. I do rent stick shift in Canada or Europe.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:36 pm

Start learning now for next year. Not this year.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Epsilon Delta » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:53 pm

MJS wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:30 pm
The Azores drive on the right side of the road, while the USA drives on the left. Combining stick with "wrong side" driving with local custom is very challenging.
No wonder we have over 30,000 fatalities per year

Lest there be any confusion, both the Azores and the US drive on the right.

https://www.worldstandards.eu/cars/list ... countries/

ResearchMed
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:57 pm

MJS wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:30 pm
The Azores drive on the right side of the road, while the USA drives on the left. Combining stick with "wrong side" driving with local custom is very challenging.

My car has a manual transmission, but I rented an automatic in New Zealand (Right side drivers). Having one less distraction was cheap insurance. I do rent stick shift in Canada or Europe.
The USA drives on the LEFT? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Where in the USA are you? We'll avoid the roads there!

RM
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by bubbadog » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:06 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:30 pm
You need to know how to learn to drive manual?

Miata

Is

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jharkin
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:14 am
Location: Boston suburbs

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by jharkin » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:11 pm

I learned stick at 16. It was that or no license :)

In college I taught a couple friends. Yes you can get the basics down in a couple hours in a parking lot.... however it takes longer to get confident driving in heavy traffic, starting on hills, etc.

Tip: to learn, find a friend who owns a manual Honda. 4 cylinder Accord or even better Civic. Honda makes some of the worlds best and easiest to drive manuals.it will be a lot more forgiving learning experience than starting on, say, a Ford Mustang.

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tinscale
Posts: 386
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by tinscale » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:26 pm

I've been able to drive a stick since 1969. I have a 6-speed now. Yes, you can learn the basics in a couple hours. Going up in gear is easy, downshifting or stopping when an unexpected situation occurs requires is a little harder and requires more finesse. Like, when the car in front doesn't go as you anticipated or slams on the brakes, in traffic jams, on hills, etc.

Driving in a foreign country is bad enough. I wouldn't compound it with a rental car that I only barely know how to drive.

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Watty
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by Watty » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:33 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:57 pm
MJS wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:30 pm
The Azores drive on the right side of the road, while the USA drives on the left. Combining stick with "wrong side" driving with local custom is very challenging.

My car has a manual transmission, but I rented an automatic in New Zealand (Right side drivers). Having one less distraction was cheap insurance. I do rent stick shift in Canada or Europe.
The USA drives on the LEFT? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Where in the USA are you? We'll avoid the roads there!

RM
In the US Virgin Islands they drive on the left, but the cars are brought in from the US mainland so the driver's seat is on the left as if you should be driving on the right. Now that is confusing!

ResearchMed
Posts: 7653
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:49 pm

Watty wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:33 pm
ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:57 pm
MJS wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:30 pm
The Azores drive on the right side of the road, while the USA drives on the left. Combining stick with "wrong side" driving with local custom is very challenging.

My car has a manual transmission, but I rented an automatic in New Zealand (Right side drivers). Having one less distraction was cheap insurance. I do rent stick shift in Canada or Europe.
The USA drives on the LEFT? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Where in the USA are you? We'll avoid the roads there!

RM
In the US Virgin Islands they drive on the left, but the cars are brought in from the US mainland so the driver's seat is on the left as if you should be driving on the right. Now that is confusing!
Ah yes...

When I lived in the UK for a post-doc, I purchased a car, but one to be "shipped home", back to the USA, so it had left hand seating/steering, intended for right-side of the road driving.

After a short time, it was less "confusing" than dangerous.
It was just about impossible to "pass" another car on those two-lane roads, as I'd need to stick almost the entire car over the middle line before I could see beyond the lorry in front of me.
On my regular "commute", I learned where there were LONG curves in the road, and where I could tell if there was "nothing there and nothing approaching", and only pass there if at all.
Some drives were very slow...

(And... I didn't realize the US Virgin Islands drove on the left. The few times I was there, I didn't do the driving, so it *obviously* didn't leave much of an impression on me.)

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

scrabbler1
Posts: 2242
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:39 pm

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by scrabbler1 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:02 pm

While I learned to drive on an automatic when I was 18, I soon had to learn how to drive a stick when my parents sold off their remaining automatic a few months later, after I went away to college. Only sticks would be around when I came home for weekends. They had bought a stick that summer (1979 Corolla) and my mom, after showing me how to handle the clutch, handed me the keys and told me to drive around the (residential) neighborhood, practicing stopping and starting. I already knew some stuff about driving a stick, including some info from the HS driver ed class I took a few months earlier.

I also learned pretty quickly that sticks from car to car could be very different, starting with the VW Rabbit my dad drove. Besides Reverse always tricky to shift into on the VWs, the clutch and friction point felt much differently than on the easier Corolla. It took me a few trips to my cousins in San Diego before I had the guts to try driving their classic ~1971 VW Bus.

The first at I owned was a stick which I drove for 6 years until I traded it in in early 1992 for an automatic and have driven automatics ever since, except for once in a while driving my dad's sticks until he traded in his last one in 2007, a Honda Accord (much easier than his Rabbit).

I don't think I'd want to drive a stick in a foreign country which has you driving on the opposite side of the road. I'd see it as a challenge to get used to that and would not want to have an additional challenge of being a rookie with a stick.

rgs92
Posts: 2275
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:00 pm

Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by rgs92 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:18 pm

Just pay for the automatic. Driving a manual transmission is difficult if you are not used to it and you don't want to be a novice in the Azores or anywhere else unfamiliar to you. Don't even think about it. And certainly don't do it just to save money.
(Full disclosure: I had to google where the Azores is.)

KyleAAA
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Re: Learning to drive stick

Post by KyleAAA » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:41 pm

Even if you are absolutely dreadful at it, you aren’t going to do significant damage to a clutch grinding it for 2 hours. Learning is pretty trivial, I think I learned in about 30 minutes. Nothing to be nervous about.

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