Thread: How do you drive a stick?
May 8th, 2008, 11:16 AM #1
How do you drive a stick?
Now I know "how" to drive a stick, but I've never really driven one newer than a 1965 chevy pickup and that was years ago. I guess my real question is, how do you test drive a manual when you want one, but aren't confident as of yet? Most dealers or private parties don't like you killing their clutch and I don't know anyone at the moment with a crappy enough car to want to let me try. I checked into renting one, but that seemed fruitless in my area. Any ideas?
May 8th, 2008, 11:34 AM #2
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Buy a beater, and go from there.
If you've never driven one, you are going to be grinding gears and stalling it out. I learned how to drive on a stickshift, and after one day of practice on an 2003 SRT-4, I was good. However, that was a much easier transmission to control compared to my old '87 Jeep I had.
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May 8th, 2008, 11:34 AM #3
You will probably not have many problems. Despite it being years, driving a manual is somewhat like learning to ride a bike. The vehicle can change, but the process remains relatively consistent, even when comparing a 1965 manual trans to a 2008 manual trans.
Go through the motions slowly and avoid test driving (and especially stopping) on large hills if at all possible. Take a few seconds to change each gear until you feel more comfortable with the process. Pause a second or two to take each specific step in the process if required. You will probably not set any land speed records, but it is not like most people driving a manual progress straight to heel-and-toe power shifting either.
May 8th, 2008, 11:37 AM #4
Well, I guess I could recommend a few things.
Start slowly by testing where the clutch "catch point" is.
Avoid hill starts.
Drive in low traffic areas so you can concentrate a little bit more on clutching/shifting.
Take a few laps around the dealer lot in the car to get used to driving a stick again.
Let the dealer know it's been a little while since you've driven one. (maybe)
You aren't gonna break anything if you miss a few shifts or stall it. I've driven manuals for years and still kill my occasionally.The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it. -Mary Catherine Bateson-
May 8th, 2008, 09:01 PM #5
I wonder how much a lesson would be compared to wrecking a clutch ? $50 maybe ? I'd wreck the school's clutch before mine
May 8th, 2008, 10:22 PM #6
I drove a manual Nissan pickup for 15 years, but when I tried once to drive my father-in-laws BMW, I couldn't do it. So it might take a while, depending . . .Never send to know for whom the bell tolls . . .
May 8th, 2008, 10:37 PM #7
I think it's more like riding a bike... The only diff in the truck and the BMW is just quickly adjusting to the feel. But I've driven lots of sticks for many years. (that doesn't sound very nice does it??)
May 9th, 2008, 12:24 AM #8
Maybe I'll offer to pay someone for a few lessons on their car or something. I'll be living in a fairly rural area and one of the popular radio stations has free "wanted/FS ads" every day on air.
May 9th, 2008, 12:35 AM #9
If you know the mechanics of it - as you say you do - then it shouldn't take more than a couple starts to get the feel of any clutch. They all feel different, but you shouldn't have any trouble.
Truck clutches are heavier than car clutches. A guy let me drive his Dodge Ram diesel, which had a stick, and I had no problems...but when I went to drive home, I nearly pushed my clutch pedal through the floor because I was used to his.
May 9th, 2008, 01:46 PM #10
Give it gas and let the clutch out sowly. N. Dak is such rural country...you dont know anyone that lives on a farm? 99% of the ol' farmer boys have old manual pick'em'ups on the farm.The Beatings Will Stop When Morale Improves
May 9th, 2008, 02:04 PM #11
May 9th, 2008, 02:07 PM #12
Unless you are driving something like a Porsche 911. Drop the clutch without keeping up the RPMs, feel the car lurch, then hear the engine stall out due to a lightweight flywheel.
May 9th, 2008, 02:16 PM #13
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The audi 6-speed was pretty easy to deal with I thought, other than that I drove an old pontiac pheonix (~1977) and some kinda mazda and old GF had.
It's not just the clutch you need to get a feel for, a bit of practice with the gas pedal helps too. Gettin a feel for how fast the engine spools up and keeping a steady rpm before you give it a go should help out.
May 9th, 2008, 04:00 PM #14
May 9th, 2008, 04:03 PM #15
May 9th, 2008, 05:23 PM #16
Ive found with most manual pickups 800-1300 rpm is a norm area to start letting out the clutch...He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves. One for his enemy, and one for himself.-- Lao Tzu
May 9th, 2008, 10:19 PM #17
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This is how I learned. My dad test drove a standard car for me. He drove it down the road, parked it in a parking lot, and i had my first lesson in a standard. dealer never knew anything about it! Just relax and try to find that point where the clutch grabs. Once you do that you'll learn the balance between the gas and the clutch with just a little practice!
May 9th, 2008, 11:35 PM #18
The hardest part about driving stick is getting the synchronization right. It took me at least two weeks before I felt decent on stick. It's hard.
I think the best thing you can possibly do is convince a local to let you use their car. Driving stick is all about the clutch. Gears and gas are literally irrelevant to driving the car. They are extensions of the existing mechanism that allow you to drive more quickly and accelerate faster. You CAN drive a car with just the first few gears without gas at all. The clutch connects the wheels to the engine through the gears, which you can change with the gearbox (shifter). The gas is the throttle of the engine, obviously.
Anyway, get a car, sit in a parking lot, and learn EXACTLY where the engage point is. It'll literally take forever to build up the muscles and the muscle memory to where you'll get it right, but ideally, you'll want to be able to push it in all the way, and pop it back to the engage point such that your car lurches/proceeds forwards but you don't stall. Literally, this is what it'll feel like when you first get in, it's that freaking sensitive:
(pushed in)---------------------------------------------------------/I+---------(let out)
The forward slash is where the clutch is slipping but not completely gripped. The I is where it's fully gripping but unstable. Like I said, ideally, you want to be able to move your leg back such that the clutch is exactly on the forward slash such that the wheels turn and the car moves WITHOUT USING THE GAS. Let the clutch out very, very slowly. The wheels will turn a little, and the engine will choke a little... then let it out a little more and wait for the engine to stabilize... then let it out all the way until you're in the "I" or "+" region and can simply take your foot off the clutch and let the car idle forward much like automatic transmissions do automatically. In the forward slash state, there's too little frction for the clutch plates to make full contact, too little friction to stop the engine, but enough friction to turn the wheels slightly. If you let the clutch out all the way back to the I or the plus, the clutch doesn't slip at all and achieves full contact, causing an enormous frictional force that stops the engine (and stalls you. it sucks). That's why you have to aim for that forward slash area where the clutch is making increasing contact but not full contact. I can literally sit at lights going uphill with the engine almost stalling, but the clutch slightly slipping enough to where it doesn't, and at the same time applying enough force to the wheels to get them to not roll backwards.
Once you've learned to drive the car without gas in first gear, push the clutch in, shift to second gear, and try to let the clutch out in the same manner such that you use your existing forward velocity to do the same process again. The engine compensates somewhat for the fact that you're trying to stop it (essentially giving you a little bit of gas to work with). If you make it into second gear without stopping the engine, you'll notice that you're now going faster, but the engine is still idling at the same RPM. That's what gears do for you.
Repeat this a million times, then add gas after each time you shift successfully. You'll notice that revving the engine before shifting will make stalling impossible. Unfortunately, this is a terrible habit that wastes gas and will ruin your clutch. That's why you need to approach this from the bottom with no gas.
Good luck! It's worth it!
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