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.

Car in first, clutch in, foot on brake is how I do it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You bring a lot of business to your mechanic, huh?

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.

Depends on how long the light takes. Short light - keep it in first. Long light - save my leg and put it in neutral.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Me too, but I voted #2, because that seems to happen the most often.

Fair enough.

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 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.