Standard Cars

i’ve heard this from my older sister and I’m skeptical about this claim. She said that when you drive a standard car, it’s not necessary to press the clutch to shift gears on the car. There is a way to shift the gears, but it depends on the timing. I didn’t think this was possible. If this is possible, what kind of damage, if any are you committing to the car? Anyone want to take a whack at this.

Yes, you can shift into all the gears if the engine is at the correct rpms. Except for first gear. It just slips right in. If your clutch goes out while you’re driving, you can get your car home by shifting like this. Turn off the car and start it in first gear if you have to proceed from a complete stop. As long as you shift at the correct rpms, you won’t hear any grinding, and you won’t damage anything at all. According to my mechanic-extradordinaire-husband. I’ve done it often, but there’s no reason to unless your clutch goes out.

It’s easiest to find the correct shifting point in 3rd and 4th gear than in 2nd, but it’s not hard at all once you try.

It’s called ‘powershifting’. You can do it so long as your engine RPM matches your wheel speed for that particular gear (ie, at 60 km/h (40 mph) in my Sunfire, 3rd gear is 3000 RPM, 4th gear is 2000 RPM, and 5th gear is 1500 RPM). If you’re imperfect you’ll grind the gears; this can cause premature transmission failure. This is expensive.

You can’t start the car from a standstill without the clutch, BTW. This is only to shift gears while the car is already moving.

Thank you for that explanation. I have heard about this but couldn’t figure out how it worked.

Sure you can. Stop the engine, put it in first, turn the key. Okay, so this doesn’t usually work with one of those newfangled cars with a clutch safety switch, but if the clutch hydraulics are out you can still depress the clutch to satisfy the switch and start it in gear.

Yeah, like I said first.

Bah! Fine, you can start from a standstill if your starter motor doesn’t explode. Happy?! :smiley:

My dad can do it really well, you don’t even know he’s shifting it’s so smooth. I can kinda do it, but it makes some noise and I never really practiced. Though for some reason about two years ago I found my self in the habit of shifting to neutral without using the clutch (usually when coming to a stop).

I think “If your clutch goes out” needs to be clarified.
Greasy jack did cover this partially, If the clutch disengagement mechanism, (hydraulic or mechanical) fails, needscoffee is correct, by the way, how do i get my wife to listen like you do.

If the clutch goes out like a failed clutch(worn out) you will do well to drive very carefully in the low to mid range gears, and then that will not work if the clutch disc is trashed. More likely a tow is in order.

It’s more of a challenge to downshift to a lower gear (4th to 3rd, more so for 3rd to 2nd) than to upshift, which is pretty easy unless you’re climbing a hill or something.

True, and true again.

What is also true is that if you have a fluid clutch, the kind with master cylinder and slave cylinder, and you blow that out, you better get it into a midrange gear and do your dead-level best not to end up motionless at the bottom of any hills… because once the last of that fluid pressure is gone, you are NOT getting that stick shift out of whatever gear it is in at the time.

Can you elaborate more on that? Why is that?

I can do it in older trucks. However, I can’t in my 1990 Nissan truck for this reason. I can’t even it get it out of gear without the clutch unless the engine is off.

When driving a big truck (IE 18 wheeler) it is common to shift without the clutch. All big trucks that I have seen do not have syncros.

There is some more discussion of this here —> http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=549098

Not in my experience. I’ve driven 50 miles home with a blown hydraulic clutch line, shifting gears the whole time. No-clutch standing starts and stalling to stop sucks in city traffic. And yes, I had to use some duct tape to bypass my clutch safety switch so I could start in gear.

Hydraulic or cable, all your clutch does is disengage the transmission from the engine - there’s no difference if either keeps you stuck in the engaged default position.

I’m speaking from experience with a Datsun 510. I was a teenager and blew out the fluid clutch on at least 2 occasions from doing wannabe racecar-driver fast shifting, slamming the clutch in. What happens when the line blows is that for a little while shifting is still possible but pushing the clutch in makes no appreciable difference; but eventually it just won’t go out of gear. I’m talking about scooting to the back seat for maximum leverage, bracing one’s back against the back seat and pushing with one’s foot for all one is worth against the stick shift trying to get it to slide forward out of 4th gear.

I don’t know mechanically what process would be keeping the gears from disengaging. This was on flat ground (at the bottom of a hill, but flat at the immediate location of the car) engine off.

Experienced twice. (I think I ruined the clutch a 3rd time but got it home in 3rd gear).

In college, knew a guy studying Fire Protection and Safety, worked as an ambulance driver. He claimed the ambulances were manual transmissions and that he didn’t know how to use a clutch, just used the right rpm values for the shifts. I was dubious, but that was his anecdote.

In practice it’s pretty tricky, and you will do some gear-grinding. Just don’t force it into gear, if you match the engine RPMs properly it will just slide right in as if you’re using the clutch. It’s a very small RPM margin.

If I had to write a rough beginner guide, I’d say on a deserted road drive at a steady speed in 3rd gear, and without clutching move the gearshift to neutral, with your throttle foot let the engine speed drop about 500-800 RPM but no more (keep it steady there), then carefully try moving the gearshift to 4th gear. If it resists or grinds, vary your RPM plus or minus a bit with your throttle foot.

Of course while you’re doing this your car will be losing speed, so the slower you go the slower you want your RPMs to be, and at some point you’ll want to start trying 2nd gear or start over.

Save your throwout bearings and move from any gear into neutral w/out depressing the clutch pedal.