So I am going on a big trip here soon, and we are going to take my car. However, I have a standard. Now it is going to be me and my friend. He can drive a stick, but he seems to get nervous. He doesn’t really feel comfortable with it. However he will have to learn how to do it if we’re going to go on this thing!
So yes, basically I need some advice on how to teach him. Any good tips or experiences?
So he already knows how and just isn’t comfortable with it? Then what he needs is practice, preferably on fairly deserted streets so he isn’t panicking trying to get into first from a stop while some asshat is yelling at him from behind. Find a nice bleak subdivision and just have him drive through it. Don’t yell at him. Expect a lot of jerking and some stalling out. Just keep being encouraging. Maybe take some Advil beforehand so your neck isn’t too sore.
If it’s a technique thing, the thing I found most useful was the way my dad explained how to shift: Press the clutch in all the way, move the stick to the proper position, give it a little gas, then let the clutch out only about halfway. Ease up on the gas (don’t let go of it entirely, but back off), and let the clutch out the rest of the way. I don’t know if that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be done, but I can make things a lot smoother that way, and I haven’t had to replace a transmission yet.
Another good place to practice is an empty parking lot, where there’s lots of open space to practice getting out of 1st gear. That, more then anything else, is the hardest part of driving stick, and it just takes getting used to.
The technique my dad used with me was getting the car from stopped and into first gear without pushing on the gas at all. It’s possible, but difficult, and takes a lot of control and a VERY slow release of the clutch. Once you can “feel” where the clutch engages and and move that leg up and down on the clutch with a little more accuracy, it’s a piece of cake.
Honestly, driving a stick shift is all about practice and technique. Someone just needs to be there to show you the bare-bones-basics of it, then let you try it out until you get it. My dad has polio and therefore only 1 good leg and couldn’t really SHOW me how to do it, but he did a good job of explaining it, going through the aforementioned clutch practice, then handing me the keys and letting me try it in the neighborhood for a while. It took me an hour or so in the neighborhood before I was confident enough to try it on major streets, and 3-4 days before I could get in the car and KNOW I wasn’t going to kill the thing.
I barely drive stick. I get panicked in street traffic but I can handle highway driving. Assign the highway driving to your friend, if nec’y tell him when to clutch in and shift on the on ramp; once he’s in 5th there’s no difference in driving an automatic or stick on the highway.
In this manner I shared a 12 hour drive to Florida, although if you asked me I’d say I don’t drive stick.
BTW, I have done hours and hours in parking lots, with three different patient instructors driving very forgiving cars, over a span of 10 years, and in no way do I feel comfortable driving a stick.
So, don’t assume that an hour in the parking lot will have your friend up and running, but then, as I noted in my previous post, a very low level of skill is needed for highway driving. In fact, my pal phatlewt has been even known to do the shifting FOR me, because even on an easy highway onramp I am known to throw from first to fourth by accident.
BTW, I also don’t downshift. I find an offramp where I can clutch in and brake to a stop (highway rest areas are good).
This is what my dad did with me after I’d gotten through the laborious Texas Driver’s Ed class (7 45-minute lessons in an automatic car with two other students, making total driving time 7 x 15 minutes, and I can just walk into the DMV at 16? Dude). From my experience, it’s also what driving instructors do to first-time students here. He drove to a nearby empty church parking lot and we went around in a zigzaggy circle for about half an hour: engage clutch, creep onward about 5 meters, press clutch, engage clutch, creep onward another 5 meters press clutch. (Also engage clutch, have car stall, bounce around, curse, start car again, engage clutch, stall.) It will take a while to find the specific position at which the clutch engages, but once you find it, it gets easier.
Also, shifting between gears should happen as quickly and smoothly as possible. I was taught this: rev the engine to about 2500-3000, press the clutch down and shift gears. Then move the clutch to the point where it engages, and then press the gas slightly while you release the clutch the rest of the way.
It does take time and practice, but isn’t that pretty much the same with any sort of activity? To get it to go smoothly you have to do it over and over again until you get it. I was petrified the first time my dad made me drive the stick-shift on a public road; I had a serious case of “kangaroo gas” and I think I stalled the car about 10 times. Now, no problem whatsoever.
I would recommend taking him on a short trip on a road with stoplights. The best situation would be if the lights are not too close together. I did not become completely comfortable with standard until I had driven from Pittsburgh to Butler (40 min drive). This was after I had driven from Pittsburgh to NJ (5 1/2 hours) several times as the only driver. The short drive taught me how to deal with hills, lights, hills with lights and driving in traffic. Afterwards, I was much more confident in my abilities.
Find an empty parking lot and let him get familiar with where the engagement point is on the clutch. Before doing any driving at all, have him put it in first gear and then slowly release the pedal until he feels the clutch just start to engage. Do that a bunch of times to really understand it. Then practice starting off from a stop a bunch of times. Keep doing it over and over. Have him try to do it without giving it too much gas - just a little. As mentioned before, shifting between gears isn’t that difficult; it’s starting out in first gear that’s hard.
Sorry, but I have to disagree. When shifting between gears, you don’t need to find the engagement point of the clutch. You depress the clutch and shift gears - once it’s in the new gear, you simply let off the clutch in one smooth movement. You don’t want to let off so fast that it slams the clutch-plate, but it’s not necessary to spin the clutch because it’s already in gear. The more you spin the clutch, the faster you’re wearing it out.
Exactly. A friend of mine tried to teach me how to drive stick. Lots of bucking and jumping, much to my embarrasment. Then someone explained to me how the damn thing works (the notion of a friction plate was key) and I just got it. It was totally a :smack: moment.
I’ve had multiple other people tell me they had the same experience, particularly an officemate of mine. His dad was going through the whole “just let the clutch out slowly” practice thing, and was getting rather irritated that his son didn’t “get it”. Once someone showed him a diagram and gave him an explanation, there were no more problems (didn’t do much for father/son relations, however).
As to practicing – after I was good at starting on flat ground, the most benefit I ever got was tackling starting going uphill on a rather steep hill (dead-end street) by my parents’ house. Not very pleasant for the clutch, but it’s come in handy a couple times when I found myself at a light/stop sign going uphill into moving traffic.
Tom and Ray Magliozzi of the Car Talk radio show on NPR get asked about learning to drive stick once in a while on the show. They say to find a big parking lot on a day when the store is closed. Here’s the tricky part. The student must not touch the gas pedal during the first half hour. This will involve stalling the engine many times, but it will teach that lots of revs are not needed to get under way.
When a caller has clutch trouble, they ask, “How many times in two weeks do you stall the engine, starting from a dead stop?” If the caller proudly answers zero, they declare the caller is abusing the clutch.
I had a car and a truck with sticks, long before I heard that advice, and I have to say, according to them, I was abusing my clutches. :smack:
When my step-daughter was learning to drive a standard, I tried and tried to explain the technique for releasing the clutch. We were practicing in an empty parking lot and making no progress. Finally, in exasperation, I leaned across the seat, reached down, and grabbed her left ankle. I guided it through the motion of engaging the clutch from a stop. It worked; she got it. She had no problems from that point on.