Tips on Driving Stick Shift

These tips on driving stick shift will help you learn to master standard transmissions. It's best to learn standard transmission driving before you get too comfortable driving an automatic, as there's a lot more timing and action involved.

  • Make sure you push the clutch all the way to the floor every time you shift. When you come to a stop, make sure the clutch is pushed all the way to the floor and stays to the floor while you are stopped.
  • When parked, put the vehicle in first gear. Do not use reverse or neutral. Put the emergency brake on. Using both methods, especially on a hill, will help prevent the vehicle from rolling if the pressure is too much for the transmission or if the emergency brake is low.
  • Practice driving in an area with little to no cars before going on the road. When driving a stick shift, there are two extra things you must do in addition to using the brake and gas pedal. You'll stall out a lot when you're first learning. It's better to have this happen in a parking lot than on the road. Parking lots at schools and office parks are often empty on the weekends, making them a great place to learn the timing needed for a standard transmission.
  • Make sure you are comfortable driving before going out into traffic. If you do not synchronize your movements, you can cause the car to jerk or to stall out when coming to a stop or when taking off from a stop. This can cause an accident if you stall when the light turns green and the person behind you is not paying attention.
  • Never use a cell phone or otherwise occupy your hands when driving a stick shift. One hand must be free at all times to use the shifter. The other hand should stay on the wheel.
  • When you stop uphill, make sure you foot is on the brake and the clutch at the same time. Put the vehicle in first gear, so that you are ready to go. Don't forget to make sure the clutch is pushed all the way to the floor. When it's time to go, quickly move your foot over to the gas pedal and immediately start pressing the gas as you release the clutch. The vehicle should start moving forward. You may go backwards a few inches; do not panic and step on the brake. Keep your foot on the gas and make sure you are releasing the clutch at the same time.
  • If the vehicle does stall, don't panic. It only takes a second to restart. Put the clutch in and restart the vehicle. 
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