Driving a manual

So I have a 5 speed, the only car my boyfriend and I have (we’re happily living in sin). We just moved and now he’s going to have to drive it. This wasn’t a problem in Davis as we only used it once or twice a week. He’s having problems learning how. I’m not sure if it’s me or him. Anyone have any tips on teaching him? Right now another car isn’t in the budget and he needs to get to work and shortly I won’t be able to take him.

Hi, gfloyd. I learned on a stick shift, so it was no big thing, but I’ve heard that it is hell to master after learning on an automatic.

My advice? Take him to a remote road or deserted well-lit parking lot, ride with him, and let him spend the day learning how to synchronize pushing the clutch with shifting gears. That’s probably the safest, most effective way. Make sure it’s not a bad section of town, of course, and make sure you have plenty of room to maneuver and avoid any vehicles/pedestrians that might happen by. This will save both your nerves and time, because there’s nothing quite so distracting to someone learning how to shift gears as a white-knuckled passenger in the front seat (as I found out the hard way learning to drive with my dad).

Oh, and make sure he goes really slow at first. When learning stick, slow and steady is the key. He’s got to start out by concentrating on the clutch/gearshift. When he can do that without concentrating, then he can work on his speed.

Good luck with this.

After a stretch of more than 20 years without even coming close to a stick shift, I had to learn all over again.

What Linty says. Go to a flat parking lot. Get out of the car. Have your boyfriend practice letting the clutch out again and again and again until he feels like he’s found the friction point.

Step two, combine clutch and accelerator until he feels comfortable starting out.

Step three, find a hill, do it all over again.

If he has reasonable coordination, he should feel relatively comfortable inside of an hour.

Let him drive around town for a couple of days and then introduce him to downshifting.

No gas pedal at first. He should be able to start moving from a dead stop just by letting out the clutch with the car idling. When he can do that, he can start adding gas to speed up the process.

Not on my mom’s Hyundai.

I had an awful time learning to drive stick. The worst for me was learning not to kill the engine when I had to brake on a hill.

I learned in my grandfather’s field, driving on the dirt roads that surrounded it. He had insisted I learn to drive a manual before learning to drive an automatic. I was extremely frustrated by it because manual dexterity is not one of my gifts.

I finally stomped back into the house with tears of frustration brimming in my eyes and announced flatly that I wasn’t going to do it any more. Almost all cars these days are automatics, I argued. I’d never need to know this.

Grandpa looked at me and solemnly said, “Lissa, what if you ever find yourself in need of a getaway car and the only one available is a stick?”

Defeated by his devestating logic, I trudged back out to try again. It took me a while, and it probably screwed up his transmission, but I eventually did get the hang of it.

My advice is just to be patient. Find a deserted place to practice and don’t get frustrated if it takes a while.

Nor my Celica. I didn’t learn to drive like this, and honestly didn’t even know you could do this, and I’ve been driving stick on a daily basis for 10 years.

My advise is to emphasis that you can feel the correct tension in your foot and leg when the clutch is ready for the gas, with enough practice. (I know these aren’t the correct terms, but I’m not sure what the correct terms are.) When I learned, on an old 300 Z, my dad pretty much said nothing but “go slower with the clutch.” This led to me taking 30 seconds to let the clutch out and still killing the poor car. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. But I love driving stick now, and doubt I’ll get an automatic until I am old and gray.

If he gets too frustrated, just get out of the car and walk around for a bit (another good reason to be away from traffic when learning). Don’t let it get too tense, that will just make it worse. And plan on it taking a few days. There is nothing worse than getting stuck at a stoplight and people honking at you because you can’t get the damn car started.

I firmly believe everyone’s first car should be a stick, if at all possible. If it’s all you have to drive when you’re a teenager, you will learn how, and quick. Everyone should know how to drive stick.

I didn’t learn that way either, but I heard that tip elsewhere and found it really useful in teaching a friend,’

If you’re using both feet when trying and failing to get the car moving, it’s VERY tough to figure out which part you’re doing wrong. So you isolate the movements. Mot cars should be able to start rolling with the engine at idle speed, but if not just tell your friend ro give it enough gas to run at a fast idle, and then forget the right foot. Just leave it frozen in place while he concentrates on getting a feel for the clutch.

I agree with boyo jim. You can get just about any car to move without the gas( assuming you don’t have a crazy stage 3 clutch or something).

In a dead flat parking lot have him raise the clutch until the car barely starts moving. thats the friction point and he must move the clutch up thru it extremely slowly without gas in order for it to not kill the engine. Oh, and have him do it barefoot.

Also, the best advice I ever got when I was learning was that if anything started to go wrong. CLUTCH IN. You can’t hurt the car when you’re just in neutral.

Do you understand all the different parts of the car? I think I learned how to drive stick quickly because I understood the theory of it. I knew all the inner workings of what happened when I did what.

Go aggies!

alternatively for the left foot only method you can have him bring the clutch up to when the car just barely starts to move and have him leave it there until the car speeds up to a decent speed. Then he can raise his foot thru the friction point.

I agree with this whole heartedly.

The only caveat is you must not be on an incline surface. An empty parking lot is a good place to practice this. Also, a poorely tuned car (low idle speed) or an engine with really low torque may have trouble pulling at idle speed. But I believe most cars in good state of repair can in fact pull at idle with the clutch gently slipped with no gas applied.
That or get a new boyfriend. 'Cuz seriously… what good is a guy that can’t drive standard? :dubious: :smiley:

And then… Double-clutching! :smiley:

As someone who learnt to drive in a manual transmission vehicle, and has owned both manual and automatic transmission cars, I have to say that I think ALL new drivers should be required to learn to drive in a manual car… it certainly taught me a lot more about how the car worked, as well as understanding torque, RPMs, and so on.

Are there any good driving schools in your area? It might be worth simply paying for someone with the necessary qualifications and patience to teach your boyfriend the intricacies involved in a manual transmission…

I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect that drving schools, like car rental agencies, use cars with automatic transmissions.

My driving school used all automatic transmission cars.

Most driving schools here offer you the choice of either manual or automatic transmission… my fiancee is trying to learn to drive, and she’s had a couple of lessons in a manual and just can’t get the hang of it, so now she’s learning in an automatic and having much more success.

I took Driver’s Training in high school. They used automatics. Since I haven’t used a private driving school, I don’t know what equipment they use. But I’ve tried to rent cars with standard transmission when I travel. No joy. The reason I’m given is that only a small minority of people want a standard transmission, so that’s what the agencies provide. Without phoning driving schools in the area I have no way of knowing; but I assume that they operate on the same principle: that people don’t want standard transmissions. Being simpler to drive, it behooves the school to make things easy by using automatics.

Which reminds me of high school…

Dad taught me to drive in his Toyota pick-up (or ‘ute’, if you prefer), which had a standard transmission. In school we were driving on a mountain road and the instructor told me to shif into high gear on the way down. What do you do when you shift? Why, you push in the clutch of course! :smack:

The only real good news is once he learns to get rolling in 1st gear, the rest of them come pretty easily.

I’ll throw another vote in for large empty parking lot (most churches work great for this) and for using mainly the clutch.

Thirded. My brother had me try this and it made all the world of difference for getting my foot and not just my braind to understand what I was doing.

I was going to suggest that the first lesson should be, don’t try to teach loved ones to drive. :smiley:

Okay, if you’re set on teaching him, yeah, go to a parking lot and let him get used to stalling the car I mean getting it going in first. I don’t agree with the others here; I think of the clutch and gas as yin and yang - clutch on, gas off, ease clutch off, ease gas on. Once he gets the hang of clutch off/gas on in first, the rest is pretty much gravy. He WILL stall it repeatedly while driving, and he WILL hold up traffic on a hill and get so frustrated he’ll want to cry, but that’s all part of the fun (hell, I’ve been driving manual transmissions for 10 years now, and I still dump it once in awhile. It happens.)

And make sure the parking brake is always off when he tries to get it going.