What's the "right way" to drive a stick shift?

A few years back, I was deciding between a Toyota Pious, and an Echo. Neither had enough pickup to be fun. But I decided on the Echo, and ordered the manual for budget’s sake.

I was surprised --the manual had a LOT more “Git Up ‘N’ Go” than the automatic!
“Uh, dad, we think the Echo is a leeettle too much fun for you…” my kids would say, as I squeeeeeled around corners. But now that they’re of age, they love doing the “Tukwila Drift” (It’s like a Tokyo Drift, but gets an assist from a light dusting of snow).

Two thing you should not do (one has already been mentioned but I will do so again cause it is important)

!. Don’t drive with you foot lightly on the clutch. This engages it enough that you won’t have your clutch plate longer than maybe 20K miles. Your clutch w/ proper shifting can go for 80k or more. Get in the habit of releasing clutch and then moving your foot totally away from the clutch, no matter what gear you are going from-to, even 1st to 2nd, it is good driving habit for a clutch.

  1. Don’t drive with your hand resting on the shift. This will also put stress on the trannie. You will then have to replace your clutch plate early.

Go to a hill with no one near you. Get the car going from a complete stop uphill. Practice til you can get the car going without going backwards. This will help for those time that someone stop right behind you and you don’t want to hit them.

please explain.

Here is how it was explained to me–that when you rest your hand on the clutch plate it puts a strain on the clutch plate so when driving a stick one needs to break that habit. I was told it is like resting your foot on the clutch, that it slightly engages the trannie which puts extra wear on it.

My ex-bro-in-law used to go thru a ton of clutch plates cause he would rest his large paw on the stick. He also went thru alot of brake pads but that is a different driving bad habit.

drivel. the shift mechanism doesn’t act upon the clutch at all. the only thing that might happen is the contact pads on the shift fork(s) might wear a tiny tiny bit faster, and that’s if you bear down on it. Whoever told you that was full of it.

All I know is that I usually get >120K on my clutch plate by not riding the clutch and keeping the paw off the shift. Which is more important doesn’t matter, I just think keeping hand off of stick is a good habit to get into cause it allows you to have both your hands on the wheel.

I also shift with just my palm, not by grabbing the shift gear which I think allows a more smooth transition between gears and a better feel of the car, but that might just be a personal preference.

Some cars have throwout bearings that seem to have a mind of their own - the Ecotec LSJ in my Atom was particularly prone to a problem where things would start to engage on their own, even with the clutch pedal to the floor. I discovered this on the 405. In rush hour :eek:. If you don’t catch it in time and shift to neutral, you have 2 choices - go with it and start moving, or shut the engine off, shift to neutral, and start the engine. This isn’t peculiar to the GM Racing setup in the Atom, either - a number of people on the Cobalt SS discussion forums have encountered it. There’s even an official GM Performance upgrade kit, which replaces the LSJ clutch with one from the LNF.

Indeed. In the Atom, you have to pull the engine to get to it. The parts for a complete clutch / throwout bearing / fasteners / etc. kit is under $250, but there’s 14 hours of labor to get the engine out and back in. [It is a very tight fit in an Atom.]

I don’t like this thought - I always drive a manual such that I’m in the correct gear to accelerate if I want to, and that if I let off the gas there is some braking happening - I find this makes the car handle better and gives me many more options should a situation arise.

Dude - you are my new hero. Anyone that drives an Ariel is tops in my books!

I took a ride in an HSV Holden race car (specially adapted for the job) where the driver was crash shifting a 500 odd hp car on the downshifts at 100+ kph in carpark. That was an experience!

Thanks! 30,000+ miles so far - 4 complete trips from coast to coast, and lots of other long trips (like NY to OK). Most of them are documented (with pictures) on the link in my previous post.

It’s a lot of fun, almost all of the time. Heavy rain isn’t pleasant - you know why they call 'em “bucket seats”, right? And the 125-degree weather in Death Valley in July was a bit extreme, too.

I’d like to see a cite on this please.

ALL of the spec sheets I see give better mileage for the manual than the auto.

This is essentially what I was going to post. You can’t learn to drive a stick by reading about it; you have to experience it. My advice for first-timers is have somebody who knows how to drive a stick drive your car for you if possible and pay attention to how they do it. You can even make mental notes of what speeds they shift at.

If you don’t have somebody to show you, you can learn it on your own. Just drive around and every time you do something that makes your transmission make a horrible noise, remember not to do it again.

When you can come to a complete stop while driving up a hill and start going again without slipping backwards, you’ve mastered it.

Heh - this is why my preference is actually an Exige, much as I would love to have the Atom (or the Rocket for that matter)

Here you go.

Here’s just a few examples:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2011_Porsche_Boxster.shtml
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2011_Ford_Fiesta.shtml
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2012_Mazda_3.shtml
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2012_Honda_Civic.shtml

Theoretically, a manual should have better fuel economy than any automatic, but with advances in transmission technologies like CVT and DCT, the edge has narrowed to the point where a mere human just can’t compete anymore.

Hmmm, if that first link doesn’t work, click here and go to the Misconceptions tab.

Wow…colour me surprised.

It’s the first time I’ve seen it (and I have looked at more than just a few spec sheets)

Heh, I hadn’t heard that one but I like it.

As The Bestest Ex put it the first time we took my manual Civic, “man! I always forget that these actually move in first!”

typoink, you say you’ve driven a manual before, so you already know how it works. I’ll add the following advice to those saying “don’t ride the clutch” and “you do need to let it up gradually when moving from a full stop”: remember to use it every time you shift and also to get to a full stop. Also, take some time to learn which are the “change points” for your car and how it sounds when you need to change. For my first car and in km/h it would be “1st gear from 0 to 20, 2nd from 20 to 40, 3rd from 40 to 60, 4th above 60”; my brother’s is identical adding “from 4th to 5th at 105”, the one I drive has slightly different switching points.

bengagmo’s advice on keeping the proper gear matches that of DGT (the Spanish DoT).

An exception for not driving clutch down: if your driving wheels start to slide, e.g. in gravel, snow or ice, pull the clutch down, your wheels will move the same pace as your car, giving you the best possible grip. It will wear your clutch but might save your life.

Thanks for that insight. :rolleyes: It’s not bad, just different. If you treat it right, the clutch lasts a long time - over 100K miles on my previous BMW bike.

This sounds like either the throwout bearing wearing, i.e. eating up the races and reducing clearance, or else a hydraulic leak (assuming hydraulic actuation of the clutch). I’ve had friends encounter that same symptom, with either one of the above root causes.