Driving a Manual Vehicle

      A car with a manual transmission can sometimes be called a stick shift. It typically requires a bit more skill than driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. When you are driving a vehicle with a manual transmission, you as the drive will be manually shifting the gears yourself rather than letting the vehicle do it for you. The hardest part about driving a manual vehicle is getting going! Once you get going, you’ll have no problem!

     There are a few basic bits of information that you’ll need to know to get started. From the driver’s seat, at your feet, you will notice three pedals. Moving left to right you will notice the clutch, the brake, and the gas pedals. You will be using the clutch pedal, with your left foot, and your right foot will control the gas and brake the same way you would in an automatic vehicle. In the center console, you will notice a stick with numbers on it, this is the gear stick. This is what you will use to change the gears in your vehicle. Please note that “R” is for reverse. Automatic vehicles have a designated ‘gear’ for park. In a manual vehicle, you will need to rely on a manual parking brake. Always, always, always use the parking brake.

     You will need to learn and become familiar with the gears on your vehicle. Typically, 1st gear is left and up. 2nd gear is left and down, 3rd gear is straight up, 4th gear is straight down, 5th gear is right and up, 6th is right and down. Reverse is often all the way to the left and up.

     The best place to practice driving a stick shift, or manual vehicle, is in an open or empty parking lot. To get the car started, you will need to put the key in the ignition with your left foot pressing the clutch down. Keep your foot on the brake pedal while you do this and you can take the emergency brake off. When the clutch is depressed you can put the vehicle into first gear. To shift your vehicle into first gear, you will need to depress the clutch pedal with your left foot and put your right foot on the gas. As you slowly, release the clutch, you will need to press down on the gas pedal, you will meet an almost middle ground and the gear will catch, your vehicle will start moving and you will be in first gear. To keep moving, keep your foot slowly on the gas and press down on the clutch. Once your vehicle hits about 2500-3000 RPMs, move your vehicle into 2nd gear and slowly release the clutch while continue to press on the gas. You will continue this process to shift up through the gears as you move to highway speeds.

     While you are learning and getting comfortable with your vehicle, don’t be afraid to stay in the parking lot. Don’t forget to practice reverse as this can be one of the most challenging parts of driving a manual vehicle. When you are comfortable with your ability and in your vehicle, go ahead and take to the road! Best of luck to you!