How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide

How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide

Knowing how to drive a stick shift will give you more options, whether you’re planning to rent a car abroad, need to drive a friend’s car in an emergency, or just want more freedom while driving. But how do you start out with a stick?

Before you begin, you need to get familiar with the gears. Then, follow the steps to drive a stick shift. Read on to learn the steps to take to get started.

What is Stick Shift?

You might have heard the term “stick shift” but what is stick shift, exactly? A vehicle with a manual or standard transmission is frequently referred to as a stick shift. Drivers can manually shift gears to accelerate the car thanks to the stick shift in the car. The stick shift, which is connected to the transmission, is placed in the center of the vehicle.

Each gear on a stick shift is designed to withstand certain speeds and as you accelerate, you’ll need to transition to the next gear. The speeds of the driving stick gears are listed below.

  • 1st gear = 0 to 10 miles per hour
  • 2nd gear = 3 to 25 miles per hour
  • 3rd gear = 15 to 45 miles per hour
  • 4th gear = 30 to 65 miles per hour
  • 5th gear = 45 miles per hour or over
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide

How to Drive a Stick Shift?

Here are the details:

Before You Begin

The same principles apply whether you’re operating a manual or a stick. Here’s what you should know before you get into gear:

  • Learn the steps’ footwork.

Instead of two foot pedals, manual transmission vehicles have three. The clutch is operated by the left foot on the pedal. The brake and gas pedals are located in the center and to the right, respectively. Using your right foot, you steer both of those. The connection between the engine and wheels is effectively broken when you depress the clutch, allowing the wheels to spin with their own momentum. In order to change gears, you must press the clutch.

  • Get used to the gear shift.

In most manual transmission cars, the gearshift, or stick, is located between the passenger and driver seats. The positions of the gears are indicated with numbers, typically 1 through 4 or 1 through 5—depending on the vehicle—with the letter R designating “reverse.” To get familiar with how the stick moves, depress the clutch without turning on the engine and shift your way through the gears. Your understanding of the hand movements will improve as a result.

  • Learn the lingo.

Upshifting: Upshifting, as the name suggests, is the process of changing into a higher gear in order to move more quickly.

Downshifting: Upshifting is the exact opposite of this. You are lowering your gear as you slow down.

Neutral: Your gear shift is in neutral when it isn’t in gear. You should start the car with it in this position.

Stall out: If you release the clutch too quickly while shifting gears, your engine will quit, causing what’s called a “stall out.” Avoid panicking if this occurs. Put the car in neutral, maintain foot pressure on the brake, depress the clutch, and turn the ignition back on.

RPM: As you get more experience driving a stick shift, you’ll be able to tell when it’s time to shift gears from the sound and feel of your engine. But you can also use your dashboard’s RPM gauge as a guide. RPM refers to your engine’s revolutions per minute. On an RPM gauge, the numbers represent RPM as a multiple of 1,000, with 1 denoting 1,000, 2 2,000, and so on. Most engines operate best between 2,000 and 3,500 revolutions per minute. The redline is a red area on RPM gauges. You want to change gears before your gauge turns red because going over this limit can harm your engine. Generally speaking, it’s time to shift when the RPM reaches 3,000.

How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide

Follow the Instruction

Here are the first steps on how to drive a stick shift car:

  1. Put your left foot on the clutch pedal to get started. Before starting the car, get into it and put your left foot on the clutch pedal. The gear shifter should be in neutral. Make sure the manual emergency brake is not engaged if your vehicle has one.
  2. Put the car in drive and depress the brakes. When starting the car’s ignition, keep your left foot on the clutch pedal while placing your right foot on the brake. The middle pedal serves as the brake.
  3. Set selected gear to first, then move your right foot from the brake pedal. We’ll get into the specific meanings of each gear. But in general, the gears function like the gears on a bicycle—the higher the gear, the faster. Of course, you always shift into first gear first. At the same time, you can start to move the car by lightly lifting your right foot off the brake pedal.
  4. Release the clutch pedal gradually, then drive forward. Start easing the clutch pedal off gradually at this point. Move your right foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal ever so slightly. For first gear, you shouldn’t drive too quickly. Repeat these steps up until clutch release.
  5. Go into second gear while accelerating. Watch for the speed that requires you to shift into a higher gear as you start to drive and accelerate by pressing the accelerator pedal with your right foot. Given that you’ve only just started driving, the second gear is appropriate in this situation. Put your left foot back on the clutch pedal and take a small step off the accelerator with your right foot to change gears. Release the clutch once you shift to second gear.
  6. Repeat at higher speeds and gears. You will have to manually change into the proper gear as soon as you start to gain speed. To shift into another gear, just repeat the previous step. Similar steps would be taken in reverse if the car were to slow down, and so on until it came to a stop.
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide

Prepare Before Driving a Stick Shift

There are a few things that need your attention and a few things you’ll want to have organized before you start moving. Before you even start the car, make sure to go through these preparatory steps:

  • Have a calm, experienced stick shift driver ride in the passenger seat for your first few times. They can help you feel more at ease and can also respond to any questions you may have.
  • If possible, practice in a sizable, empty parking lot. Find the most level ground you can to practice on, as hills make stick-shift driving more difficult.
  • Make sure the emergency brake is engaged before you begin.
  • Recognize the gearshift’s shifting pattern. First, look at the diagram printed on the head of the shifter. Then, without starting the vehicle, insert the lever into each slot in the proper order. (You might need to press the clutch to let the gearshift slide.)
    Your muscle memory, or the capacity to carry out particular actions without having to consciously think about them, will eventually incorporate this pattern into your movements. Be prepared to practice since it will take some time to build muscle memory for manual transmissions.
  • Find out what the floor pedals do. Both the gas and brake pedals are located in the center of automatic vehicles. The clutch pedal can be found in a standard car to the left of the brake pedal. Practice using the movements you’ll need to make—pushing the clutch with your left foot and the gas or brake with your right. Your muscle memory will also incorporate these movements.
  • Try combining the foot and hand motions. Repeat the clutch-pushing, gear-shifting, clutch-releasing, and gas-pushing motions, followed by releasing the gas, bringing the car out of gear, and applying the brakes.
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide

Stick Shift Vs. Automatic Transmission

Driving a car with a manual transmission is similar to driving, but requires less active participation from the driver. The car shifts gears automatically (hence the name automatic) using an automatic transmission.

Comparing manual and automatic transmission vehicles, the clutch is a noticeable addition in a manual transmission car. The clutch pedal is found next to the brake pedal on the left side of manual transmission vehicles, in addition to the gas and brake pedals. When you use the clutch pedal, you can shift gears.

Instead of gears shifting automatically, driving stick requires you to change gears manually (hence the name manual). This is the part of learning to drive a stick shift that can be challenging because it requires you to apply the clutch and change gears smoothly. Your car will stall out if you accidentally press the clutch pedal too quickly. On the other hand, if you aren’t fast enough with the clutch it can cause wear and tear on the car.

Why Do Gears need to Be Changed?

To sum up without getting too technical, an internal combustion engine produces power and torque over a very small operating range. For example, if a vehicle had just one forward gear, its top speed would be minimal. However, by using a number of gears in a graduated order, the vehicle can travel at much higher speeds while the engine remains in its desired range.

Before the development of automatic transmissions, everyone who drove a car had to be skilled in changing gears manually. Of course, it requires some manual dexterity and footwork, but it’s undoubtedly a skill you can pick up quickly. And once you learn how, you probably won’t forget it, just like when you learn how to ride a bicycle.

How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide
How to Drive a Stick Shift? Follow the Guide


Is It Hard to Drive a Stick Shift?

Everyone who drives should be able to operate a stick shift. However, a lot of drivers simply lack the confidence to learn. While driving a manual transmission may seem a little intimidating, it’s really not all that difficult once you get used to it.

Is Stick Shift Easier Than Automatic?

Because it takes practice to learn to drive a stick shift, most people are more comfortable driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. They’re simply easier to learn how to drive. Drivers can maintain better control by keeping both hands on the steering wheel. Easier in heavy traffic.

How to Downshift With the Gear Shifter?

Downshifting gears performs the same function as accelerating when you’re slowing down your car, with the exception that you choose the lower gear. You’ll want to keep the throttle constant as you would braking. If the downshift is not made quickly enough, the car may stop more abruptly. This can be jerky and uncomfortable for yourself or passengers. Use this technique frequently rather than the brakes to stop your car more smoothly.

Do You Brake Or Clutch First?

Wherever you drive – you always hit the clutch first and then the brake even when it’s not needed. Remember this that hitting brake without hitting clutch helps you brake quicker because the friction provided by engine aids you in slowing down fast (Read up about Engine braking).

The Bottom Line: How to Drive a Stick Shift?

If you’re wondering how to drive a stick shift, hopefully you have a better idea now. Obviously, getting real-life practice with an experienced driver is best but this is good research to get started. Driving with your left hand can be frightening at first, but as you get used to it, your muscle memory will take over, making it easier over time.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment. KV Auto tries to give you the best car industry information. Thank you for reading.

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