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View Poll Results: Stopped at a red light in a manual tranmission
Keep the car in first with the clutch in and the brake on 90 27.95%
Put the car in neutral with the brake on and shift to first when the light changes 187 58.07%
Other 27 8.39%
None of the above because I only drive automatics 18 5.59%
Voters: 322. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:43 AM
Hakuna Matata Hakuna Matata is offline
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Stopped at a red light in a Manual transmission do you...

1. Keep the car in first gear and clutch in, foot on the brake.
2. Put the car in neutral with foot on the brake, and shift back to first when the light changes
3. Other
4. None of the above because I only drive automatics

My daughter (who I mentioned in another thread is learning to drive a manual transmission) asked me what to do at an intersection. So I thought I would see what the consensus of the doper masses was.

Now I have heard everything under the sun as to which option is the best. Some mechanics swear that leaving the car in first gear with the clutch in wears out the throwout bearings, but I have had an equal number claim this is BS. Other people claim that with it in neutral you have no control of the car, etc. So I doubt we will find a consensus but it will be interesting to see what various people do on this issue.

I would vote #3 as what I do (and what I will likely advice her to do) is this:

If it is only going to be for a couple of minutes then I leave it in first. If the car behind me has not stopped then I keep it in first gear. That way I have some control of the car if there is an issue. Once the car behind me has stopped I put it in neutral and then shift to first when the light changes. I have always done it this way and at age 52 I don't see me changing!

So vote--what do you do with a car with a manual tranmission at a light? This is also my first attempt at a poll--so if it doesn't show up, just type out your answer.
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  #2  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:45 AM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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Car in first, clutch in, foot on brake is how I do it.
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  #3  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:48 AM
Enginerd Enginerd is offline
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Depends how long I'm going to be sitting there. If it's a quick light, I'll keep the car in first with the clutch in; if it generally takes a while for the light to cycle, I'll put it in neutral until it's my turn to go.
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  #4  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:50 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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I can easily put over 100,000 miles on a manual without replacing anything. Throw-out bearings do wear and you have to pull the transmission to replace it. The car should be in neutral with the foot on the brake.

Last edited by Magiver; 04-12-2011 at 11:50 AM..
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  #5  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:53 AM
ReticulatingSplines ReticulatingSplines is offline
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It does wear the throwout bearings to push the clutch pedal down, I don't know how anyone can claim that is BS. On whether it will wear out during your ownership of the car, views might differ, but it unquestionably puts wear on the bearings.
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  #6  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:57 AM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Approach light, put car in neutral, begin breaking. If needed come to full stop. Watch opposite light for signal change, shift car into first seconds before the light changes and continue on my merry way.

It takes a little while to know which gear to shift back into if you have gone into neutral and already started breaking but have to accelerate again, but that's why a stick takes some practice.

And not that anyone asked, but I've tried to purchase my last three cars with manuals and nobody will sell them to me. I know they make them, but they're either not on the lot or the finance company offers me a better rate to go with an automatic, since they apparently have a higher resale value. It's mildly annoying because I don't care, manual transmissions are more fun to drive and make me pay more attention to my driving.

Last edited by Cluricaun; 04-12-2011 at 11:58 AM..
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  #7  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:05 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Usually clutch and brake, unless the stop light is on an incline, in which case I'm with my clutch and gas both pressed halfway.

Last edited by Alessan; 04-12-2011 at 12:05 PM..
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  #8  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:07 PM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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Depends on the length of the light but "Put the car in neutral with foot on the brake, and shift back to first when the light changes" is the correct answer and "Keep the car in first gear and clutch in, foot on the brake" is the shortcut people devolve to.

She should at least start by doing it right.
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  #9  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:10 PM
Hakuna Matata Hakuna Matata is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReticulatingSplines View Post
It does wear the throwout bearings to push the clutch pedal down, I don't know how anyone can claim that is BS. On whether it will wear out during your ownership of the car, views might differ, but it unquestionably puts wear on the bearings.
Yeah I should have worded that better. What the mechanic claimed was BS is that you could keep the clutch pedal held down during every single stop for the entire life of the clutch and you would not come close to exceeding the service life of the throw-out bearings unless something else is wrong with the car. They basically were of the opinion that was absolutely no reason to believe that you will wear out the bearing from holding the clutch at a stop light. Not being a mechanic I have no idea if that is true but I have heard and read that other places as well.
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  #10  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:11 PM
ReticulatingSplines ReticulatingSplines is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
unless the stop light is on an incline, in which case I'm with my clutch and gas both pressed halfway.
You bring a lot of business to your mechanic, huh?
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  #11  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:19 PM
Marc Xenos Marc Xenos is offline
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Given my druthers, I prefer manual transmission for several reasons, none of which are important here. So that's what I drive most of the time. At red lights, I keep the car in 1st, clutch in (obviously) and foot on brake. Unless there's a steep incline backwards, in which case I might ride the friction point rather than the brake. I also use the transmission to complement the brakes, although which one better saves wear on the other is really unimportant to me.

Everything wears on a car, and they wear unevenly, which means you can develop a huge repertoire of tricks trying to extend life of a component which is usually futile. The whole reason for manual transmission is to have more control of the vehicle, and keeping it in 1st while stopped, for general purposes, more control. Excepting nit-picky, rare exceptions.

But, then, manual or automatic, I don't like ANY car in Neutral in traffic. Just my 2 worth.
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  #12  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:21 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Depends on how long the light takes. Short light - keep it in first. Long light - save my leg and put it in neutral.
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  #13  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:22 PM
inkling inkling is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hakuna Matata View Post
If it is only going to be for a couple of minutes then I leave it in first. If the car behind me has not stopped then I keep it in first gear. That way I have some control of the car if there is an issue. Once the car behind me has stopped I put it in neutral and then shift to first when the light changes.
This is pretty much what I do. 170K miles on the factory clutch and throwout bearing on my old pickup and I sold it with them still functioning perfectly, and another 95K on my little coupe, still no signs of impending end of life.
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  #14  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:27 PM
Sicks Ate Sicks Ate is offline
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One option you forgoot to include is:

"Right foot on brake, left foot on clutch. Repeatedly tap the stick into 'reverse' to mess with the driver behind you"

Along similar lines, have to share something my brother does at intersections: If you are stopped next to another car, put yours in reverse and wait until you know the other driver can see you. Let your car roll backwards, while looking at the other driver with a 'what in the world are you doing?' look. Laugh while they frantically mash the brake because they think THEY are drifting forward relative to you.
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  #15  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:30 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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I always shift to neutral. That's the way I was taught to preserve wear on the clutch, and that's the way I've always done it. If I'm on an incline, I put it in neutral, with the handbrake. I'm very gentle on my clutch.
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  #16  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:30 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Originally Posted by ReticulatingSplines View Post
You bring a lot of business to your mechanic, huh?
I learned how to dive in Haifa, Israel, a city with a topography similar to that of San Francisco, only hillier. If we bothered to pull the handbrake every time we stopped, we'd never get anywhere.

In Haifa, clutches are considered disposable accessories.

Last edited by Alessan; 04-12-2011 at 12:31 PM..
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  #17  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:36 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enginerd View Post
Depends how long I'm going to be sitting there. If it's a quick light, I'll keep the car in first with the clutch in; if it generally takes a while for the light to cycle, I'll put it in neutral until it's my turn to go.
Me too, but I voted #2, because that seems to happen the most often.
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  #18  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:49 PM
ReticulatingSplines ReticulatingSplines is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
I learned how to dive in Haifa, Israel, a city with a topography similar to that of San Francisco, only hillier. If we bothered to pull the handbrake every time we stopped, we'd never get anywhere.

In Haifa, clutches are considered disposable accessories.
Fair enough.
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  #19  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:52 PM
Pitchmeister Pitchmeister is offline
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Other - shift to neutral and don't do anything. Why would I need to stay on the brake for minutes if I'm not standing on an incline?
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  #20  
Old 04-12-2011, 12:55 PM
stpauler stpauler is offline
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I could've picked all four:
Keep the car in first with the clutch in and the brake on
For a short light, sure.

Put the car in neutral with the brake on and shift to first when the light changes
Yes. But...

Other
I was always taught to shift it into 2nd gear and then 1st when moving from neutral. That was passed down from my grandfather who used to race in the Indy 500. I was told that it meshed the transmission better to do it that way. Now I'm curious about that wisdom.

None of the above because I only drive automatics
My last 4 cars have all been automatics. I still have the mad skillz tho.
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  #21  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:04 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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When I drove a stick, I kept it in first with the clutch down. I did, in fact, end up burning out a clutch from riding it too much.

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 04-12-2011 at 01:04 PM..
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  #22  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:09 PM
Marc Xenos Marc Xenos is offline
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Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic View Post
When I drove a stick, I kept it in first with the clutch down. I did, in fact, end up burning out a clutch from riding it too much.
The only time I ever burned out a clutch was when I blew it out, from popping it too much in a souped up Barracuda. The only other time I had a problem was when the manual transmission on a Neon blew out, but the CLUTCH remained intact (!). Even my mechanic was dazzled by THAT one.
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  #23  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:11 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Depends. If there's already someone stopped behind me and I don't expect the light to change quickly, I'll put it into neutral and let off the brake completely. If there's no one behind me, I keep the brake lights lit up. Just before I expect the light to change, I'll disengage the clutch and shift into first gear.
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  #24  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:19 PM
Jaledin Jaledin is offline
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My last car was a manual -- I chose other, because it depends, as some others have said. If it's a long light (that I'd know from experience), I'd throw it in neutral, otherwise, just jam the clutch down.

The guy who sold me his car taught me to drive stick, though, and he wasn't too good at it -- and my first solo drive with passengers I was wasted drunk. Cum grano salis.
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  #25  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:28 PM
amarinth amarinth is offline
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I leave the car in whatever gear it was in, clutch in, feel slightly guilty about it because I've heard the warnings about being in neutral, and shift to first when the light changes.

Really, on a hill, I'd rather be in a gear. Any gear.
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  #26  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:32 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enginerd View Post
Depends how long I'm going to be sitting there. If it's a quick light, I'll keep the car in first with the clutch in; if it generally takes a while for the light to cycle, I'll put it in neutral until it's my turn to go.
Yup. I know the lights where I drive; I know the couple of them that take two minutes to cycle.
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  #27  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:36 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Originally Posted by amarinth View Post
I leave the car in whatever gear it was in, clutch in, feel slightly guilty about it because I've heard the warnings about being in neutral, and shift to first when the light changes.

Really, on a hill, I'd rather be in a gear. Any gear.
Why wouldn't you just put it in the gear you'll need when you start driving again? Also, a car will stall out if the gear is too high when it's stopped (maybe not every car, but I have had this happen to me).
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  #28  
Old 04-12-2011, 01:59 PM
jayarrell jayarrell is offline
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It varies for me depending upon my mood and nature of the stop. Most stops in neutral, brake on and shift to first when the light changes. Expecting a short light? Then in gear, clutch down.

On a hill? Either in gear, clutch and brake or I'll balance clutch and gas like Alessan.


Never learned the handbrake on a slope thing. The few times I've tried it haven't gone well.
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  #29  
Old 04-12-2011, 02:00 PM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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In my car, I put it in neutral unless I'm getting ready to launch (e.g. right turn on red). Several reasons:

- reduces wear on the throwout bearing
- reduces wear on the clutch (it wears, albeit only slightly, whenever there is relative motion between friction plate and pressure plates)
-removes the possibility of accidentally launching/lurching into the vehicle in front of me, or into any pedestrians who may be crossing in front of me, or into cross traffic (e.g. if my foot slips off of the clutch)

On a motorcycle, the advice is slightly different for safety reasons. Because you are vulnerable to impacts from behind by distracted drivers, you come to a stop near one edge of your lane, and keep the transmission in first with the clutch pulled in until you've got one or two cars stopped behind you; only then do you put it in neutral and relax your clutch hand. Keeping it in gear gives you an opportunity to scoot out of the way if you notice in your mirrors (you were watching your mirrors, right?) that someone's about to crush you from behind.

If you're in your six-foot-wide car, there's really nowhere for you to go to escape such an imact even if you see it coming, so there's no particular safety advantage to keeping it in gear at a stoplight.
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  #30  
Old 04-12-2011, 02:03 PM
amarinth amarinth is offline
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Originally Posted by Pitchmeister View Post
Other - shift to neutral and don't do anything. Why would I need to stay on the brake for minutes if I'm not standing on an incline?
I understand all of the words individually, but the sentence isn't making sense. I don't think I've ever driven where there wasn't an incline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
Why wouldn't you just put it in the gear you'll need when you start driving again? Also, a car will stall out if the gear is too high when it's stopped (maybe not every car, but I have had this happen to me).
Bad habit. Possibly because one of the cars I first learned to drive on was ancient, dying, and didn't reliably go into first gear for anyone. Possibly just because. I've never had a car stall out when I did it, though I have had the unpleasant moment of realizing that I was trying to start from third. I'd never teach someone to drive like that - but the question was "what do you do" not "what should you do"
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  #31  
Old 04-12-2011, 02:31 PM
Dogzilla Dogzilla is offline
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Originally Posted by stpauler View Post
That was passed down from my grandfather who used to race in the Indy 500.
Indy fan checking in.

Who's your grandfather?
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  #32  
Old 04-12-2011, 02:41 PM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
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Depends on the length of the stop.
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  #33  
Old 04-12-2011, 03:05 PM
BDoors BDoors is offline
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In the UK driving test it used to be the case, and as far as I know still is, that you would fail the test in such circumstances if you did not put the car into neutral and apply the handbrake. In real life, people don't follow that rule of course, but if it's a long red light I personally do use neutral + handbrake, even if the ground is perfectly level. The rationale I was given was that if somebody nudges you from behind and your feet slip off the pedals you won't shoot forward into oncoming traffic. Also, you can give your feet a nice little rest .
And the "hill start", i.e. proper use of the handbrake to pull away on an incline rather than balancing the clutch vs. the throttle, is part of learning to drive. Riding the clutch like that is just bad driving.
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  #34  
Old 04-12-2011, 03:52 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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In addition to wear on the throwout bearing, it wears the thrust bearings on the crank. Yes, they are sized to take it, but idle is exactly the low speed, low oil pressure condition where oil film bearings work worst.
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  #35  
Old 04-12-2011, 04:23 PM
FordTaurusSHO94 FordTaurusSHO94 is offline
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Originally Posted by stpauler View Post
Other
I was always taught to shift it into 2nd gear and then 1st when moving from neutral. That was passed down from my grandfather who used to race in the Indy 500. I was told that it meshed the transmission better to do it that way. Now I'm curious about that wisdom.

First wasn't always synchronized, so sometimes you had to move the shifter around before it would go in. Most modern vehicles have fully synchronized tranmissions, but you occasionally come across one with Reverse that isn't. To get into Reverse, you might have to shift into first or fifth gear first. With a modern transmission, you can easily get into any gear at a stop, as long as no synchros are damaged.

At a light, I put it in neutral and rest my foot on the brake. Depending on the vehicle, I may not even use the clutch to put it in neutral as I'm coming to a stop.
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  #36  
Old 04-12-2011, 04:51 PM
neuroman neuroman is offline
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Originally Posted by Enginerd View Post
Depends how long I'm going to be sitting there. If it's a quick light, I'll keep the car in first with the clutch in; if it generally takes a while for the light to cycle, I'll put it in neutral until it's my turn to go.
This, exactly. Although I haven't driven a manual in about 10 years.
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  #37  
Old 04-12-2011, 04:56 PM
Chopper9760 Chopper9760 is offline
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Voted option two but I'm with Pitchmeister, why would I ride my brake any more than my clutch?

I hate driving automatics because I always feel like I have to stand on the brake to prevent the car from lunging ahead.
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  #38  
Old 04-12-2011, 05:03 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
I learned how to dive in Haifa, Israel, a city with a topography similar to that of San Francisco, only hillier. If we bothered to pull the handbrake every time we stopped, we'd never get anywhere.

In Haifa, clutches are considered disposable accessories.
To each his own I guess, but is it really that hard to clutch with the left foot & brake with the right; then when it's time to go you find your friction point and move the right foot to the gas? I can't recall losing more than a couple inches on really steep hills before taking off.

But maybe if I get to Israel someday I'll change my mind. But for now I'm all about coddling my throwout bearing.
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  #39  
Old 04-12-2011, 06:56 PM
Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hakuna Matata View Post
what do you do with a car with a manual tranmission at a light? This is also my first attempt at a poll--so if it doesn't show up, just type out your answer.
Hmm, I had to actually close my eyes and think about this...

Pulling up to a red light, I depress the clutch, shift into neutral, release the clutch, coast until I'm near the light, slowly depress the break and clutch simultaneously until I've stopped, push the shifter into first and wait.

ETA: I chose 'Other' as none of your choices apply to how I drive or brake at all.

Last edited by Onomatopoeia; 04-12-2011 at 07:00 PM..
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  #40  
Old 04-12-2011, 07:11 PM
Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is online now
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Missed the edit window. Rereading the options, choice 1 does, in fact, apply to me.
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  #41  
Old 04-12-2011, 07:11 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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In an earlier thread, jjimm posted that in England, the procedure taught is to put it in neutral and engage the parking brake. That way if you're hit from behind, the car in less likely to move forward as all four wheels are locked. They're told that if you're hit, your foot will most likely leave the brake pedal and the car will roll if the parking brake isn't engaged.

I still put it in neutral and keep my foot on the brake, though. I don't use the parking brake under normal conditions.
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  #42  
Old 04-12-2011, 07:28 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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As with several folks, I went with the "other" option because it just depends on how long I'm going to be sitting at the light. More often than not, I'm in gear. But if I know it's a long light (or if I decide to switch what's on my iPod or look for something in the back seat), I'll but it in neutral.
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  #43  
Old 04-12-2011, 07:41 PM
Unintentionally Blank Unintentionally Blank is offline
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Originally Posted by stpauler View Post
Other
I was always taught to shift it into 2nd gear and then 1st when moving from neutral. That was passed down from my grandfather who used to race in the Indy 500. I was told that it meshed the transmission better to do it that way. Now I'm curious about that wisdom.
I had an rx-7 with a dying synchro that was much better behaved when you did that.

My subie HATES shifting into first when decelerating from above about 8-10 mph...hitting 2nd on deceleration keeps everything moving and meshing....as opposed to neutral, clutch in, coast to a stop, which has parts of the transmission at full-stop until you clutch-in. There's the output shaft, and the clutch/flywheel assembly, and a mid-shaft in a normal transmission....if the clutch is out, and the transmission is in neutral, then the clutch is spinning at engine rpm, and the output shaft is turning at axle speed, and that mid-shaft is stopped.

Last edited by Unintentionally Blank; 04-12-2011 at 07:42 PM..
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  #44  
Old 04-12-2011, 07:44 PM
Red Stilettos Red Stilettos is offline
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I'm with the "protect the bearings" crowd. I put it in neutral with my foot on the brake.

I don't understand the worry about being in control of the car if it isn't in gear. After I've driven a manual for a while, I can shift reflexively and fast. I think it's highly unlikely that I'd be in a position where the extra time it took to move the shift lever would be critical. Even with the car in gear and your foot on the clutch, you still run the risk of stalling in the moment. Plus you're wearing out your bearings!

And what's all this talk of handbrakes? I've never been told to use my handbrake except when parking the car.
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  #45  
Old 04-12-2011, 08:03 PM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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Originally Posted by stpauler View Post
I was always taught to shift it into 2nd gear and then 1st when moving from neutral. That was passed down from my grandfather who used to race in the Indy 500. I was told that it meshed the transmission better to do it that way. Now I'm curious about that wisdom.
I had an old Ford pickup with a 3-on-the-tree that would not go into first gear without shifting into second or third first.

I also had a newer car with a bad synchronizer that I had to shift into second, then first, otherwise, it would pop out of gear. So now I have a habit of shifting into second then first in every stick shift I drive.

Anyway, when I'm approaching a light, I'm usually in neutral (yes, I know you're not supposed to do that) and when I stop, I'm on the brake. Once there's a car stopped behind me (assuming I"m on flat ground), I'm off the brake too, and I don't touch the clutch until I see the cross traffic light turn yellow.
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  #46  
Old 04-12-2011, 08:24 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Originally Posted by Hakuna Matata View Post
If it is only going to be for a couple of minutes then I leave it in first. If the car behind me has not stopped then I keep it in first gear. That way I have some control of the car if there is an issue. Once the car behind me has stopped I put it in neutral and then shift to first when the light changes. I have always done it this way and at age 52 I don't see me changing!
If by "minutes" you mean "seconds", then yes*. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I go into neutral, but it's been fifteen years since I regularly drove a stick. If your daughter is first at the light, she should be paying attention, and shift into first and be ready to go when the light changes. If she's not first, she still needs to pay attention, but can shift when the light changes.



* If you really mean "minutes", where the heck do you drive?
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:38 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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Into neutral and onto the brake. A clutch kit costs $190.00 for the last manual transmission I had. I'd guess that machining the flywheel would cost another $50-100.00 (plus the cost of renting a car if I needed it), and it's an all-day job between the work and running to the parts store and machine shop. It costs a lot less in the end to just not wear out the throwout bearing.
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:39 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is offline
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Information for the European posters- over here in the U.S., we have vehicles with manual transmissions and foot-operated parking brakes to the left of the clutch pedal, which pretty much prevents one using the neutral and hand brake method.
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:51 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by california jobcase View Post
Information for the European posters- over here in the U.S., we have vehicles with manual transmissions and foot-operated parking brakes to the left of the clutch pedal, which pretty much prevents one using the neutral and hand brake method.
I don't know what cave I've been hiding in, but I've never seen a stick-shift with a foot-operated parking brake. Seems like it would be an awfully tight fit so that it doesn't interfere with the clutch.

Last edited by Asimovian; 04-12-2011 at 08:52 PM..
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  #50  
Old 04-12-2011, 09:09 PM
Tabby_Cat Tabby_Cat is offline
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Neutral and handbrake if its a long light and I want a rest. and I drive an automatic.


Sometimes I don't engage the handbrake (footbrake, really) if the ground is flat.
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