How to drive smoothly: a complete guide - 1CarLifestyle (2023)

There can be a number of reasons why you might want (or need) to learn to drive a manual transmission car, but in a market where more than 85% of the vehicles on the road have automatic transmissions, a manual transmission can be a good alternative Rarity.

Suppose you find that classic muscle car you've wanted for years, but when you find it, it comes with a manual transmission. Also say you have money to buy locally; Will you miss the opportunity just because you can't drive it? We think you shouldn't miss it, that's why we made this tutorial on how to drive a car with a stick shift.

Manual transmissions might not be for everyone, but we think everyone should try them at least once; So if you have the vehicle and the time, just follow the instructions in this simple step-by-step tutorial to learn to drive a manual transmission as smoothly as an automatic transmission. If you need a hands-on demonstration of the points covered in this tutorial, watch this video.

Step 1 - Find a quiet area

If you have never driven a manual vehicle, we recommend finding a quiet area to practice the basic principles of vehicle control. Try to find an empty parking space, e.g. B. in a shopping center, a school or on a sports field. Also, hire the services of an experienced driver who will teach you the basics.

NOTE: DO NOT attempt to learn to drive a manual vehicle in other traffic, as it is easy to become so engrossed in the practice that you lose sight of the other traffic and cause an accident.

Step 2 - Familiarize yourself with the controls

Once you've found a suitable boot camp and your instructor is available, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with manual vehicle controls. The pedal to the left of the brake pedal is the clutch pedal, which you must learn to coordinate with the accelerator pedal for smooth starts and gear changes.

However, before starting the engine, take the time to learn the movement of the gear selector. While the default gear selection is the same in most manuals, there may be differences in reverse gear selection. Familiarize yourself with the feel and movement of the gear selector to ensure you know exactly where each gear is within the shift pattern. The image below shows a typical selection pattern for a 5-speed manual gearbox.

How to drive smoothly: a complete guide - 1CarLifestyle (1)

Image type: Wikiwand

The horizontal line represents the neutral, out-of-gear position. In this position the motor can turn freely as there is no mechanical connection between the motor and the drive wheels. However, please note that the parking brake should always be applied when the gear selector is in neutral to prevent the vehicle from rolling forward or backward on uneven surfaces, particularly when the vehicle is unattended.

MONITORING:While it is generally not possible to put a moving vehicle into reverse without intentionally forcing it into reverse, it is possible to seriously damage a manual transmission by forcing it into forward gear without fully disengaging it. Any squeaky noise is the result of gears not fully meshing, and continued squeaking can cause gear teeth to break.

Step 3 - Know the clutch

Before you start practicing, make sure there are no obstacles around you. The last thing you want is to hit a tree on your first try, so make sure you have at least two hundred yards clearance on all sides.

You should now be ready to drive, so make sure the parking brake is on before you start the engine. Then make sure the gear selector is in neutral and start the engine. Now fully depress the clutch pedal, move the selector lever to the first gear position and release the parking brake.

Release the clutch slowly

What you need to do at this point is find out where on the clutch pedal the clutch begins to engage and then SLOWLY release the clutch pedal. Nothing happens for the first few inches of your ride, but halfway through, the clutch begins to engage and the vehicle begins to move.

In this case, depress the clutch pedal again and use the brake pedal to stop the vehicle. Repeat this process several times until you are sure where the vehicle starts to move.

starting exercises

The next step is to take off smoothly. This takes some practice as you will need to coordinate the accelerator pedal movement with the clutch pedal movement. If you don't use enough force to engage the clutch, the engine will stall, and if you use too much force, you could trigger a hard, violent start that could damage the vehicle.

So, with the vehicle in first gear, put your right foot on the accelerator pedal and apply enough pressure to raise the engine speed to around 1000 rpm. Slowly release the clutch until the vehicle begins to move, but be ready to apply more throttle as the clutch absorbs the vehicle's weight and moves forward.

ADVICE: The engine may stall on the first try, but resist the temptation to apply more power. Keep the engine speed at around 1000 RPM and try again until you can drive the vehicle forward without stopping or rocking. Too much force at this point could damage the clutch or you could lose control and hit an obstacle.

MONITORING: Use the brake pedal to stop the vehicle after each attempt, but be sure to depress the clutch pedal before applying the brakes. If you don't release the clutch, the engine will stall every time you brake, which can damage the transmission.

Step 4 - Learn to switch

Get ready to spend a few hours learning how to take off smoothly. The next step is to learn how to shift from first to second. So make sure you have enough clearance around you, as you'll be moving a bit faster now, which means you'll need more space to stop safely.

Shifting gears is a bit more complex than a smooth start, as you have to keep the vehicle moving by accelerating smoothly. So if you are sure that you can take off without any problems, you must now learn to coordinate the clutch, gas and gear selection smoothly and almost perfectly.

There are a number of events in gear shifting, so let's start at the beginning. Start with an engine speed of about 1000 rpm, but do not let the engine speed exceed 1200 rpm or more. Once it moves smoothly, let go of the gas pedal, depress the clutch and move the gear selector straight into second gear.

MONITORING: This is where things get difficult; If you suddenly release the clutch at this point, you will experience a sudden deceleration unless you apply force at the same time. However, too much force can cause the clutch to slip if it's not fully engaged, but more importantly, too much force can cause you to accelerate too quickly, which can cause you to lose control.

So you need to gently but slowly release the clutch until you feel it begin to engage. At the same time, power must be applied as the lower gear ratio requires more power to maintain vehicle acceleration. With an automatic transmission this happens automatically, but with a manual transmission you need to coordinate the various control inputs to get perfect acceleration.

ADVICE:Don't try to get it right the first time. All drivers learning to drive manual vehicles have some difficulty in achieving proper coordination between the clutch and accelerator pedals, and some never make it. Smooth acceleration comes with practice, so take your time making the transition between first and second gear as smooth as possible. Keep in mind that it may take many tries and several hours, but keep going until you get it right.

NOTE:When accelerating in second gear, the engine speed must not exceed 1500 rpm or more. If you do this you may find that you are going too fast in a tight area where it may not be safe to do so.

Step 5 - Learn to shift into higher gears

When you master the art of changing gears, you have to learnhow to use higher gears, but a parking lot may be too small for this as you will be driving at much higher speeds.

MONITORING:In some jurisdictions it is illegal to drive a manual on public roads if you have a driver's license to drive an automatic vehicle andand vice versa. So before you move on to the next stage, check with the authorities about the legality of learning to drive a manual vehicle.

However, you will need to learn to use your vehicle's higher gears, so you may need to find a quiet stretch of road. However, no matter how quiet it is, find a stretch of road with no sharp turns, blind climbs, or stop signs and traffic lights. You must focus on learning to drive your vehicle and you cannot afford to be distracted.

Provided you've found a suitable route and have an instructor help you, you'll need to practice shifting at higher speeds. The actual process of shifting through the gear range is very similar to shifting between first and second gear, but with this difference; They do this at higher speeds, which requires a greater degree of coordination between the pedals and the gear selector.

NOTE:It is important that you do not exceed speeds of around 50 to 60 km/h during this learning phase of manual driving. Stopping a manual vehicle safely at high speeds is a different approach than stopping an automatic vehicle. So do not drive your vehicle at speeds that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

If you're already an experienced driver, you don't have to worry about maintaining directional control. However, inexperienced drivers tend to watch what they are doing while learning to change gears, not where they are going. Regardless of your driving skill level, it may initially be impossible to coordinate the clutch and accelerator pedals so that the vehicle accelerates smoothly, but don't worry too much about it now.

ADVICE:The biggest secret of driving a manual is not to overthink the process. Also, a lot of the smoothness you drive has to do with the vehicle's performance. For example, if you learn to drive a classic muscle car with a powerful V8 engine, you can shift into third or even fourth gear while idling.

Such a vehicle does not require throttle control as in a small compact car, which requires large throttle openings and therefore high engine revs to run smoothly at higher speeds.

Step 6 - Learn how to stop the vehicle safely

Learning how to safely stop a manual vehicle is just as important as learning how to shift smoothly. With an automatic transmission, there is no mechanical connection between the engine and the drive wheels, which means that even if the transmission slows down under braking, much of the difference between engine speed and transmission speed is absorbed due to transmission slip. .

However, with a manual transmission, the clutch forms a rigid mechanical connection, which means that the drive wheels apply torque through the transmission to the engine during deceleration. This is called "engine braking" and can be helpful in some situations, but it can also be dangerous on slippery roads as it can cause the drive wheels to lose traction.

Thus, there comes a time during deceleration when it becomes necessary to "break" this mechanical connection by applying the clutch to prevent the engine from stalling. There are many variables in deciding when to disconnect, but a lot has to do with the speed of the vehicle.

For example, at motorway speeds this is generally not necessary as small adjustments to your speed relative to other moving vehicles can be made by backing off the accelerator pedal or lightly pressing the brake pedal.

However, you won't be cruising at highway speeds at this point, and any hard application of the brakes will likely stall the engine. To avoid this, you need to learn when to press the clutch pedal. For example, if you need to stop in an emergency situation you'll need to depress the clutch pedal, but it's not necessary if you're just trying to slow down a little while practicing shifting.

Of course, you'll have to depress the clutch pedal if you want to stop during workouts to avoid engine stalling.

Step 7 - Practice, practice, practice

There's only one way to learn how to drive a manual, and that's to practice until you get it right. The ultimate goal is to manipulate the controls so that both acceleration and deceleration are smooth and seamless, and with enough practice it's entirely possible to achieve the same seamless acceleration and deceleration with a modern automatic transmission, but the problem is, that it can take months if not years of practice.

At this point in your driver training, you should feel perfectly comfortable shifting through the range, even if it's not as smooth as you'd like. At this point, it is also important not to change vehicles. No vehicle is like the other. So if you decide to continue practicing in a larger and more powerful vehicle, or in a smaller and weaker vehicle, you may have to start from scratch as the replacement vehicle is unlikely to meet your needs. control inputs in the same way.

ADVICE:Stay with the same vehicle until you feel completely comfortable driving through the entire aisle range. At this point you should be able to take off without stalling and change gears without any judder, squirt or engine overrevving. If you can do that, congratulations, but now you need to learn how to take off on a slope.

Step 8 - Master the climbs

Many older vehicles are not equipped with systems that automatically hold them stationary on inclines. There are many names for these systems, such as B. Hill Assist, but essentially they all work by applying the brakes when sensors detect the vehicle isn't on a level surface.

Regardless of the transmission, the system automatically releases the brakes when multiple sensors agree that enough power is being developed to propel the vehicle uphill without rolling backwards. All of this is accomplished without driver intervention, but in a vehicle without such a system, the driver must override the system and be able to pull away on a grade by coordinating the parking brake with the clutch and accelerator pedals.

That might sound scary, and it can be when the incline is steep and the car behind you almost touches yours. The key to moving off smoothly in such a situation is not to panic, but to focus on accelerating with the clutch and gently disengaging from the vehicle behind you without the clutch slipping. Here's how to do it.

find a slope

If you've never done this before, find a hill steep enough for the vehicle to roll backwards when you stop. Make sure there are no obstacles behind you, park on a slope and set the parking brake.

MONITORING:DO NOT use the clutch to hold the vehicle on an incline. This causes the clutch to overheat from prolonged friction, which can destroy the clutch in a matter of seconds. Always use the parking brake to stop the vehicle on an incline.

Then shift into first gear, but increase the engine speed to just over 1000 rpm, as starting on a hill requires more power than starting on a flat surface. Now release the clutch slowly; Now you know where along the way the clutch starts to grab. So as soon as you feel the clutch engage, release the parking brake, but be prepared for what might happen next.

  • The engine can stop

This happens when you quickly release the clutch without applying enough force to move the vehicle forward. It can also happen if you don't release the parking brake in time, so you need to time the clutch with when the parking brake is released.

  • The clutch may start to slip

This can happen if you apply too much force while the clutch is not fully engaged. This isn't just bad for the clutch; It can also cause the vehicle to roll backwards, which can be bad for your vehicle and what's behind it. To prevent clutch slippage, you must coordinate clutch engagement with the accelerator pedal.

This exercise is similar to learning to ride a bike: the more you practice it, the better you'll get at it. However, there is no quick fix: the only way to learn how to take off on slopes is to practice, practice, and then practice even more on increasingly steeper slopes as your experience and confidence increases.

ADVICE:It will likely stall the engine on the first few tries, but don't worry about that too much. Even experienced drivers sometimes stall the engine on inclines, so keep practicing until you can pull away smoothly without stalling, slipping the clutch, or overrevving the engine.

Step 9 - Put the vehicle on the road

Provided you have mastered the art of climbing hills, you should by now feel confident driving a manual vehicle on public roads. However, it is important to realize that you are not yet an experienced driver, so choose a quiet road with few stop signs, traffic lights, or many side streets where unsuspecting drivers might surprise you by suddenly turning onto the road ahead of you

NOTE:Before driving on a public road, be sure to check the legality with the authorities. You may be required to have a licensed driver with you who is qualified to drive manually, or you may be required to put up a sign letting other drivers know you are undergoing training.

Tips for smooth driving

Once you've sorted out the legal issues, it's time to put into practice what you learned in the parking lot. However, to avoid collisions and incidents, you need to take it easy. To help you build your confidence, we've listed some practical tips that will turn you into a skilled manual driver.

Know where all the controls are

If you haven't already, now would be a good time to learn where the turn signals, wiper controls, and light switches are located in the car. For example, in the vehicle you are used to, the turn signals may be on the opposite side of the steering wheel. So make sure you know where the controls are and how they work.

The last thing you want is for your wipers to be on when you need your turn signal, especially if you're in heavy traffic and driving a vehicle you're not entirely familiar with. A lot of collisions happen this way, so make sure you know the vehicle.

Know which team you are on at all times

It's crucial that you always know what gear you're in, because the smoothness of your drive depends to a large extent on how well the car responds to the accelerator pedal. For example, if you need to accelerate for some reason, but you are in fifth gear while driving at 80 km/h, the vehicle will not respond as well to the accelerator pedal as it would in third or fourth gear. at the same speed.

An automatic would have downshifted instantly, but you're not in an automatic, so you should always be in a gear that gives you the best response in all conditions. Adapt your speed to the gear you are inand vice versa, and always remember that as a driver you have to change gears manually.

By always selecting the most appropriate gear for driving conditions, you can avoid unnecessary braking or constant speed corrections to keep up with traffic. The goal is to drive as smoothly as possible at all times, and one of the most effective ways to achieve that is by always being in the right gear.

Read the traffic

If you're an experienced driver of an automatic vehicle, you probably already are, but a manual vehicle still requires conscious thought and concrete action with three pedals to achieve a comfortable driving experience.

At the risk of exaggerating, with an automatic it's enough to take your foot off the accelerator to adjust the speed. The transmission automatically shifts into the right gear for maximum power when you step on the gas again, but that doesn't happen with a manual transmission. It stays in the gear you were in when you slowed down. So if you slow down too much, you'll be in the wrong gear when you reapply the power.

For this reason, it is important to be able to read traffic more accurately than with an automatic vehicle. The biggest secret to smooth manual operation, especially at highway speeds in heavy traffic, is to shift as few gears as possible.

By keeping longer-than-normal following distances and adjusting your speed precisely to the flow of traffic, you can make small speed corrections with just the accelerator pedal.

plus one thing

The three tips above assume a certain level of experience driving a manual vehicle. However, the only way to get that experience is by driving your manual vehicle whenever you can and in as many different situations and conditions as possible.

The ultimate goal is to drive it with the smoothness of an automatic, but remember that this can take years of practice. One way to speed up the process is to introduce yourself as a passenger; Do you want to constantly experience wild starts, hard gear changes or even harder braking?

Of course not, so use the comfort of your passengers as a yardstick to constantly measure your driving skills as you gain experience and confidence.

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