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Driving a stick shift tips

Tips for driving a stick shift vehicle

Driving stick is a skill that every driver should possess. However, many motorists simply don’t have the confidence to learn.  While driving a manual transmission may seem a little intimidating, it’s really not all that difficult once you get used to it.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you give it a try:

Practice where it isn’t busy

If you took driving lessons as a teenager, you weren’t thrown to the wolves. You likely began in a parking lot or quiet road and worked your way up as the lessons progressed. The same approach should be used for driving stick. Start slow and get comfortable before you hit the busy streets.

Don’t fret if you stall

If you’re just learning to drive stick, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll end up stalling from popping the clutch too quickly. Don’t worry if this occurs, as this happens to everyone when they first start out. Just make sure to practice when the roads aren’t busy, as this can be an actual problem if you’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Use both feet

Using both of your feet behind the wheel can be an unfamiliar feeling if you’ve spent years driving with just your right.

Fortunately, you’ll still be using your right foot for braking and accelerating, so nothing will change there. The only difference will be using your left foot to adjust the clutch. Remember that the clutch is needed to allow you to smoothly shift gears.

Check your gear shifter before you start

Before starting your engine, make sure to hold down the clutch and check to see that your car is in neutral before you turn the ignition. Your gear shifter will be in the center if it’s already in neutral. If it isn’t, move it there prior to starting.

You should also check to ensure that the parking or emergency brake is in use.

Have fun

The reason many drivers prefer to drive stick is it typically makes the ride a little more enjoyable. It can also help to ensure you don’t zone out behind the wheel, as many motorists who use automatic transmission are guilty of that.

Know when to change gears

It’s important to know when to change gears.

Generally speaking, you should shift from first to second at 15 km/h, second to third at 30 km/h, third to fourth at 50 km/h, fourth to fifth at 60-65 km/h and fifth to sixth at 75 km/h.  This process is the same when you downshift, except it’s the reverse.

Remember that whenever you shift gears, you must press the clutch all the way to the floor when doing so. Don’t worry if this seems daunting. It may take a few times to get used to shifting gears, but you’ll eventually have a feel for it.