What tricks should I know if I want to drive manual well?

I drive manual pretty decently (my dad’s a mechanic for almost 20 years, and he told me so :)). I’ve heard of some terms like “heel-toe shifting” and I certainly don’t know anything about them. So I was just wondering… what else is there that I could be doing to drive manual as effectively as possible (in terms of maximum mpg, minimum stress on the clutch and other parts, and any other way you can interpret the question).

Eh, I’ve read a few manual transmission threads lately and something that someone else recomended, and that I do, is just shift into neutral when you’re stopping. It saves wear on the clutch…

For the love of god, don’t do that on your driver’s test…shakes head and mutters something about PennDOT

So aside from that, my recomendation would be to search the GQ forum for manual transmission threads…

The Car Talk fellows said a few years ago that you should leave the car in gear (at first) when stopping. Step off the gas and on the brake, leaving the transmission engaged. Before the RPMs dip low enough to make the engine start to buck, step on the clutch, keeping your right foot on the brake, of course.

This won’t harm the transmission, and by transferring some of the work of stopping to the transmission, you’ll save some wear and tear on your brakes.

I do this sometimes if I’m feeling extra-conscientious or something, but usually I just put it in neutral.

I know that’s what you’re supposed to do…that’s why I said “Don’t do that on your driver’s test”…

But someone else said that you save wear on the clutch by using it as little as possible and he recomended the shift into neutral thing as well…

If the Car Talk guys said that… I’ll just say that they know a lot more about cars than I do, lol…

This is what the Master has to say about down-shifting:

Sorry to jump in, but I always wondered about the clutch.

Would Call me Frank’s suggestion work if I just completely pressed the clutch pedel instead using neutral? I though most of the wear and tear is caused by moving the clutch between being dis/engauged.

Really? Does it make all that much difference, though? I thought clutching effectively puts the transmission into neutral anyway. So if you’re clutching once into neutral, and then again to proceed, is it really saving any wear and tear or does holding the clutch down during a stop light add to the wear and tear?

Holding the damn thing down during long stops sure seems to add wear and tear to my frickin’ leg though, I tell ya. Especially after a long day of driving in stop and go traffic. :stuck_out_tongue:

The only other thing that really comes to mind is to do your best to get into the groove of shifting smoothly in order to save the wear and tear on your passenger’s neck-bones. Heh.

In my '03 Jetta’s manual, it says to not rest your hand on the stick as even a light pressure can add to wear and tear. When I mentioned it in passing to one of the dealership service guys, he sort of poo-pooed it, saying that it’s not really that much of an issue if only done once in awhile, but over time it all adds up.

Other than that, I got nothin’. Sorry. :smiley:

Though I’m a huge fan of Car Talk, I shift into neutral when stopping, too. That’s just the way I was taught.

I took PennDOT’s driver’s test on an automatic; what do they do to you if you stop in neutral?

I, too, was always under the impression that depressing the clutch was putting it in neutral. And I always learned not to rest my hand on the gearshift, too. =P

The idea behind shifting to neutral when stopped is so you can let the clutch out instead of holding it the whole time, saving wear on the throw-out bearing. Personally I don’t think it’s a big deal, since the friction surface will most likely wear out first, and the bearing is supposed to be replaced with the rest of the clutch anyway.

Heel and toeing is a way of matching engine speed to road speed when downshifting. The sequence of events is as follows (don’t worry, it sounds a lot more complicated than it is in practice): while braking with the clutch in, put the shifter in neutral, then release the clutch and, while still braking, push the throttle with the edge of your foot, when the RPMs are at the proper point, release the throttle, push in the clutch and select the lower gear. If you have done it properly, the RPMs will be at the same speed as they would be in gear at that road speed and you will be able to release the clutch rapidly without any sudden jerks from the car. The whole sequence of events shouldn’t take more than a second or two. Some cars may have the pedals too far apart to accomplish this comfortably (or if you have narrow feet), that is one of the reasons sports cars have the pedals so close together. The only way to learn how much to press the throttle is through practice and “feel”. There isn’t much use for this in normal driving though, other than having fun and startling passengers :). It is a racing technique that allows the driver to brake at the maximum while downshifting for the corner without upsetting the balance of the car.

I also wouldn’t recommend doing it during a driving test :slight_smile:

There’s confusion here between shifting into neutral once stopped, which has no effect other than possibly easing wear on the clutch (and your leg), and shifting into neutral while stopping. I was taught that the latter is bad practice, because it makes you more liable to skid, and if you do skid makes it harder to control. You should brake steadily, in gear (no need to downshift), depressing the clutch at the last moment before the engine struggles.

I was wondering if when accelerating, if I stay in 3rd longer then change straight to fifth at 40 mph, will that save fuel compared to changing into 4th at 30 and then 5th at 40mph?

You probably won’t save an apprecable amount of fuel, but you also don’t want to shift before the car is moving fast enough that the motor can carry the car in the gear you want to go in. What you’re doing is the highest load situation and can be hard on the bottom end of the motor.

My transmission habits:
I have the clutch in less than 15 seconds at a time. If it’s gonna be longer than that, I’ll put the shifter in neutral and let out the clutch. Johnathan D is right about the wear item being the throwout bearing, and that it’l most likely last longer than the clutch, and that it gets replaced at the same time (it’s a < $10 part), but if I reduce the wear on the whole system, that’s a good thing.

Further by putting the gearshift in neutral and letting out the clutch, you remove any chance of additional wear occuring due to not fully disengaging the clutch. This can happen when you don’t press the pedal all the way, the slave cylinder is out of adjustment, or the pressure plate on the clutch assembly is starting to go. (psst: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/clutch.htm )

If I’m decelerating from 4th gear, I’ll put the car in neutral until the traffic slows to the ultimate speed it’ll slow to…then I select the appropriate gear to continue travel, whether that’s 3rd, 2nd, or 1st.

I also make significantly fewer shifts in stop and go traffic than the usual stir-stick driver. Why? I leave a LOT of space ahead of me. Sure, some people will dart in and use up that space, but I just make more, and it happens less than you’d expect…The NET result is: I can stay in 2nd gear and while the person ahead of me is clutching, going from 1st to 2nd, stopping, going from first to 2nd, I’m just maintaining a slow average pace and using up that gap in second. By the time he starts off with his jackrabbit start, I’ve closed the gap, and he recreates it for me.

You should not be coasting along in neutral, it’s dangerous. When slowing down you should stay in gear until the last minute before putting the clutch in, this means the engine helps in the braking process and you can stop quicker. It also means you are in a gear so if you need to start accelerating again for any reason you can (this is why downshifting can be a good idea). But it sounds like many of you are putting the car in neutral as soon as you know you’re going to slow down. This is a bad habit to get into imho, you’re less in control of the car.

I disagree, and this is coming from someone with formal training in autocrossing and high speed road course racing.

It’s just as easy to say leaving a car in gear is dangerous…if you get hit from behind, the action can restart the motor and cause the vehicle to keep moving after an accident has occurred. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t

Further, in stop and go traffic, I can’t think of a single reason why you’d want to suddenly accelerate, short of an individual plowing into you from behind…that’ll happen whether you can accelerate or not as the differential speed will be greater than any street car can manage to get out of the way…even more so when you consider reaction time and time for the vehicle to start providing thrust.

While you can (and I do) use the engine for brakeing…It’s actually kind of fun. The engine will not provide anywhere NEAR the braking capability of your brakes. The brakes can provide 4 to 5 times the HP stopping capacity as your motor can create. There’s an anecdote that you’re increasing wear to your very expensive motor to save your $30 brakepads. That said, it’s pretty much impossible to prove that point in a scientifically valid manner, for reasons I won’t bother going into here.

We were always taught to have the car in neutral at lights, stop signs etc. Not just in neutral, but with the hand (parking) brake on. I just tend to sit in 1st with my foot on the clutch though.

Also taught NEVER to coast, to select a low gear and just take your foot off the accelerator. Coasting was a minor fault on the test as you lose steering and speed control.

Also to shift up sequentially (1,2,3,4,5) but to skip down to suit speed (5-3-1).

As long as you’re slow and easy on the clutch and not stalling, revving or crunching you’re probably fine though.

Make sure you know where your bite point is, if you can’t do a hill start without revving, you’ve got problems.

I put the car in 1st if it’s parked on a hill, but that’s because i’m a girlie girl and can’t pull the hand brake up enough to properly put it on and off, and I don’t want the car to roll away.

These are all habits and rules based on vehicles that were manufactured more than 20 years ago. The days of a non-synchromesh transmission have been gone a long long time.

Still we’re looking at the last .5% of driving theory here, you can drive a stickshift pretty badly and still manage to get around a long long time. The only possible ramification will be a clutch repair at 60,000 miles rather than 100,000 miles. The Clutch is a wearable item, like brake shoes and tires, it’s just something you’ve gotta live with when owning a car.

They fail you. :smiley:

I’ve had manual cars most of my driving life, (over 30 years) stick and column and never really given it much thought.

I mostly go down the gears when approaching a stop rather than primarily using the brake and just before stopping slip it back into first and wait. The only time I would put it in neutral is when I know I will be stopped for some time, like waiting at a train crossing. I have never noticed it’s a strain on my legs, after awhile it all become second nature.

I realize that driving a 3-speed makes my experience less valuable (after all, it’s 3 speeds!) but I really don’t understand this stopping in neutral stuff.

Here’s how I go into a stoplight:

  1. Clutch in, begin braking.
  2. As speed and RPMs decrease, downshift.
  3. Stop at light with truck in 1st, clutch in and ready to go.
  4. Light goes green, get off the line and up through the gears.

I should point out I learned from my father, who has 30+ years experience with vehicles of every type and is an ASE-certified mechanic.

Why, when it comes to trick driving, you need to be able to do a bootlegger reverse, of course. What? What? :smiley:

Yes, and use the handbrake to get around those tight corners properly, for some reason people seem to think the handbrake’s for parking :smiley:

Always used the engine to aid in braking, I find it helps in maintaining control.

I think perhaps this just another driving habit like trail-braking, you either do it or you don’t and doing it the other way would seem positively unnatural.

By that I mean there are two styles of braking. The “brake early and in a straight line well before the apex” technique and the “brake very late and using the brakes to control and slow the car right up until the apex” trail-braking technique (thats a very poor explanation, its hard to describe)

I go for the trail-braking technique as I find it more fun, so maybe its something else you could try. Although I’ve read somewhere that its something you can’t really learn, you’re either a natural trail-braker or you aren’t.

(Before anyone says, it hasn’t been proven that one technique is better than the other)

Engine braking…trail-braking…hand-braking…I heart my brakes :smiley: