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How to Drive a Manual Transmission Car

Arjun Kulkarni
A lot of people are looking for how to drive a stick. Learning the basics of cars that are manually controlled is not as hard as it seems. Read this story to know more.
In the automatic transmission, the car itself is able to detect at some time that there is a need to change the gears. But in the manual transmission mode, you yourself need to understand that you need to change the gears. So understandably, you need to realize when to change them and then do the needful.

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How to Drive a Car with Manual Transmission


Most cars come with 5 gears. And depending on the power, you have to change gears as you drive. To change them, there is a little pedal under the seat next to where the brake and the accelerator are located, known as the clutch. Every time you will want to shift the gear, you have to press the clutch and then move the gear stick in its groove.
Why is the clutch there? Well for starters, in a way it helps regulate the speed of the car. Suppose you shift the gear to late or too early, pressing the clutch helps neutralize this problem. You might, of course now be tempted to press the clutch all the time while driving, but it is inadvisable to do so as you might ruin the clutch line. Pressing it for too long also consumes a lot of fuel, and hence, I would advise you to use the clutch only when necessary.

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Why do you need to change the gears? Gears are designed so that the engine power and fuel can be used more effectively. Each gear has its speed and power limit. Hence if you want to cross that limit, you have to put the car in a higher gear. You change the gears to increase or decrease the fuel consumption and engine power.

Driving Stick

Adjust your seat so that you find all the pedals perfectly accessible with either feet. Adjust the rear view mirrors so that you can see the cars behind you. Before starting the car, I would advise you to learn shifting the stick first. Different cars may have different shifting patterns, and hence, you wouldn't want to find yourself searching for where the higher/lower gear is while driving. Hence learn the gear shift pattern in a non-moving car till you are confident.

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Start the car in neutral. If the car is in the first gear, and you haven't pressed the clutch, it might jump. So start it in neutral and then press the clutch and then put it in first. The first gear in most car simply sets the ball (or in this case, the car) rolling.


Change when you realize that the car has revved up a lot, then shift the box one step higher. Or simpler, look at the RPM monitor on the dashboard. If the RPM indicator has gone above 4 or 5, then change shift the gear one step higher. Follow the same for each successive gear.
Now you're accelerating just fine, but what if a signal or an obstacle comes up in front of you? Press the brake and clutch, and bring it a step lower. I'd recommend beginners to keep the clutch pressed till the speed of the car and gear are synchronized, and then successively lower the gears.
When the car comes to a halt, do not forget to put it in neutral or else it will stop. Most people prefer to keep the clutch pressed and keep the car in the first gear, but this makes the car consume a lot more fuel.
It is highly recommended to use the clutch sparingly, as it ruins the clutch line and consumes a lot of fuel. Also, beginners should not go beyond third gear too often before you get used to shifting the stick. During the initial stages, make sure that you have an experienced person besides you, so that he/she can monitor your driving and progress.