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How to Drive a Manual Transmission

By Zpilcher Apr 19, 2013 680 Words
How to Drive a Manual Transmission
A vast majority of our population find operating a manual transmission, or stick shift, to be extremely difficult. However, in actuality all it takes is some serious practice and a lot of devotion to make driving a stick shift like second nature. For successful driving, the same steps must be followed each time the car is driven.

The stick shift panel is typically located between the two front seats on the floorboard of the vehicle. There are different locations such as on the steering wheel where the car can have shifting paddles. The stick shift can be moved left to right and up and down for changing gears. The clutch pedal is usually found to the left of the brake pedal.

Specifically, on a standard five speed transmission, the gears are as follows: Neutral is located in the middle of the panel. From neutral, gears must be changed accordingly. First gear is found to the far upper left, and is used to get the car moving from the stopped position. Down left is second gear, used for speeds up to twenty-five miles per hour. Third gear is located upper middle of the panel, used for speeds from about twenty-five to forty miles per hour. Fourth gear is found at the lower middle and would be good for between forty and fifty miles per hour. Fifth gear is found to the far upper right, and is used for higher driving speeds such as those on the interstate or fifty miles per hour and above. Lastly reverse, which is to the far bottom right, used for backing up. Some newer model cars actually require the stick shift to be pushed downward and to the first gear position to engage reverse’s gear. These gears must be maneuvered the exact same way each time the vehicle is driven to ensure proper engine control and maneuverability.

Undoubtedly, figuring out the timing of letting out the clutch and giving the car more gas can be the most difficult and trickiest part of driving a standard transmission. The clutch is found to the far left of the brake. When changing gears, the clutch must always be pushed to the floor with the left foot or immediately the car’s gears will grind, causing unnecessary wear and damage to the transmission. The clutch must be slowly let out as more gas is given to the car. The timing of this process must be perfect to ensure that the car will begin to slowly move forward or keep moving forward if the vehicle is already in motion. As for stopping, begin by moving the gear shift to the neutral position to keep the car from stalling. Then continue by stopping any car by pushing the brake. Downshifting is also a worthy tool to use when stopping and suddenly you wish to accelerate. Downshifting is accomplished by changing gears from third to second or second to first. When in a higher gear such as fourth or fifth, downshifting is necessary to bring the car back up to the previous speed from slowing down.

Another tool used with a standard transmission is the car’s revolutions per minute gauge. This r.p.m. gauge is found next the car’s speed odometer. When the gauge reads about three revolutions per minute, it is time to change gears. Additionally, a slight humming will begin to sound from the vehicle’s engine. This also is an indicator that it is time to change to a higher gear. If the gear is not changed the car’s engine could overheat and become damaged. These steps are crucial for successful driving of a stick shift.

Overall, every stick shift is a little bit different. Different amounts of horsepower result in different clutch engagements in relation to the amount of gas necessary to change gears. Although driving a stick shift can be incredibly difficult and frustrating, it can also be extremely enjoyable. Be sure to follow the same steps each time and with practice, driving a standard transmission will become second nature.

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