How to Drive a Vehicle with a Stick Shift Manual Transmission
By Stephen Bucaro
You get a job, or borrow a friends car, and look down at the floor board to see three
pedals rather than the conventional two - stop and go pedals. The vehicle has a stick shift.
Driving a vehicle with a manual transmission is not something you just fake. That could be
a very dangerous thing to do. In this article I show you how to quickly and easily learn how
to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission. And, after you get a little experience, you'll
find that driving with a stick shift comes just as naturally as scratching your butt.
Now, if you're a two-foot driver, you're going to have a very difficult time learning
how to drive with a manual transmission. That's because you have to first break the habit of
using your left foot to work the break. With a stick shift, the left foot works the clutch
pedal, and the right foot works the gas and break pedals. So if you're a two-foot driver, you
get some practice driving with an automatic transmission by leaving the left foot on the floorboard
while working the gas and break pedals with the right foot.
The clutch pedal works the clutch, which is a mechanism used to disconnect the transmission
from the engine. The clutch itself is a large disk coated with brake material, so you might
compare it with breaks, except pushing the breaks brings the break pads and the brake rotor
or drum together, while pushing the clutch brings the transmission and engine apart. So when
you let the clutch peddle up, you're connecting the transmission to the engine.
If you let the clutch peddle up too quickly, it will kill the engine. The whole trick
is to let the clutch peddle up slowly, while increasing the engine rpm so that the engine won't
stall. That's the whole trick to driving a manual transmission. To get the vehicle moving from
a stop, you have to move your right foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal to give the
engine enough gas to keep it from stalling while you engage the clutch.
Now, once you've got the vehicle moving, you can let your foot off the clutch. When you
need to stop the vehicle, you let up on the gas and push the brake as usual, except when you
begin approach full stop. You can't bring the vehicle to a full stop with the transmission
engaged. So as the vehicle is coming to a full stop, you move your right foot from the gas
pedal to the brake pedal and you use your left foot to push in the clutch pedal to disconnect
The first step in learning how to drive a stick shift is to learn how to get the vehicle
moving from a stop without killing the engine and how to stop the vehicle without killing the
engine. So to learn how to drive a stick shift, you should practice getting the vehicle moving
from a stop, and from moving in first gear to a full stop. You never leave first gear. You
might also practice moving the vehicle in reverse, because reverse gear is just like first
gear, except you go in reverse.
Once you can confidently move and stop the vehicle in first gear without the vehicle
lurching or the engine stalling, you are ready to move on to higher gears. I haven't mentioned
gears yet, but there are two possible locations for the gear shift lever. Sometimes the gear
shift lever is on the steering column, and sometimes it's on the floor console. Also, you can
have any number of gears, or "speeds".
If the gear shift lever is on the steering column, you almost certainly have a three-speed
transmission. You need to familiarize yourself with the H shift pattern. If the gear shift
lever is on the floor console you may have any number of speeds, up to six gears or more. With
a floor shift, a gear shift pattern diagram is usually on the gear shift handle.