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How to Drive a Car

Yash Gode
If you wish to learn how to drive a car, read on and push yourself towards your goal. So go ahead! Take the small but decisive step of driving a car.
Driving is an art that most people wish to master. Kids, mostly boys, have always aspired to get behind the wheels and learn to drive a car. It is surely not a theoretical process, but knowing how to perform this art before taking driving lessons would prepare you for the act.
Another advantage of having textbook knowledge is that it aids in saving you from the embarrassing situations you could encounter while learning.
Earlier, learning how to drive was considered an arduous job. But today, with cars having more and more driver-friendly features, eagerness to drive is rising. Learning cars equipped with automatic transmission, anti-lock braking system (ABS), and airbags has become a child's play.
Before jumping into the driver's seat of a car, you need a learner's license, an open practice area with no vehicular or pedestrian traffic, and a professional trainer from a reputed driving school, though not in the same sequence.
If you want to know how long it takes to start driving like a pro, then understand that there is no specific time frame in which you're guaranteed to acquire this art. There have been less passionate people who have quit learning after rigors of months of practice, and on the other hand, some guys have successfully completed a week-long program.

Helpful Tips for Learning to Drive a Car

Taking driving lessons is a step-by-step process. It is important to understand that there is a difference of day and night between learning auto transmission and manual transmission.
It's always advisable to learn on a transmission type, which you are most likely to drive on for a long duration. It's pretty hard to adapt to the other type at a later point in time. Let's go through the steps of learning how to drive:

Take your seat

The very first step is sitting in the car (driver's seat)! It may sound too obvious, but a proper and comfortable posture is very important to give you complete control of the car. Make sure that you can reach out to press the gas, brake, and clutch (in case of manual transmission) pedals.
If learning on a manual transmission system, you need to know the gear shift pattern, which is a standard H-pattern all over the world. In case of an auto transmission system, the driver need not worry about the gears and the clutch.

Run the Engine

The next step would be starting the car engine, also known as starting the ignition. This is done by decoupling the wheels from the running engine, either by pressing the clutch or by keeping the gear neutral (the latter one being more advisable).
Tip: Remember, if on a road with a gradient (slope), you'll require to use the hand brake to stop the car from rolling when the wheels are decoupled.

Bring the Car into Motion

After successfully starting the engine and letting it warm up a little comes the toughest step in driving a car, i.e., getting the vehicle into motion from a standstill. This is not that unmanageable for those learning on auto transmission, but for those learning on manual gear shift car, it may take days to master this step.
Basically, this step requires a lot of coordination between all your senses and limbs. Let's see what steps you need to do successfully to get the car rolling:

First, press the clutch and push the gear lever to the 1st gear position.
Start releasing the clutch very slowly, while simultaneously pressing the gas (accelerator) pedal so that there is marginal rise in the rpm of the car. At a point, you will feel the engine thrust acting on the wheels (known as the friction point of the clutch), which is characterized by change in the engine noise and drop in rpm.
✦ Release the clutch completely (engine takes control of the wheel rotation) and by pressing the gear pedal further, the car gets into motion. The process of using the clutch gets simpler as you increase the car speed and advance to higher gears (for higher speed). To start with, you'll always experience car lugging, and only practice can help you get over.

Increase the vehicle speed

After this, always remember that your left foot is for the clutch, while the right one can brake or accelerate. To switch from 1st to 2nd and to the higher gears, just press the clutch, shift to the next higher gear, and smoothly increase the gas while releasing the clutch.
Now the clutch can be released very quickly as compared to first gear, as the wheels are already in motion.

When should the gears be shifted up?

The best way to understand when to shift gears is to feel the engine noise and understand the max engine rpm. These days, most cars are equipped with tachometers, showing the engine's rpm with a 1,000 rpm least count. Shifting at every 3,000 rpm is the most economical way. The best option is to consult the trainer who is guiding you.

When should the gears be shifted down?

The shifting down of gears is required when you slow down the vehicle. As every gear is designed for a speed range, you cannot stop or start the car in the top gear. Down shifting is similar to up shifting. First, release the gas, then press the clutch, shift to a lower gear, and release the clutch, while getting back on the gas.
You should get back on the gas fast, as shifting down and not pushing the gas will slow down the car at a rapid pace. This will cause the engine rpm to rise to its rev limit because the engine compression fights the turning of the wheels. But while going down a hill or a slope, this is desirable.
Tip: Never slow down without using the brakes, as the driver behind you may not be able to notice you slowing down without the brake lights on.

Going up the slope

Another thing that scares a newbie the most is climbing from a stop on an incline. To conquer this terrain, it is better to start with a minimal slope. Parking brake or the hand brake is the key to learn to climb. It prevents the car from rolling backwards, while you practice.
And quickness is needed to start on a hill, to prevent the car from rolling back. Practice releasing the clutch before the rollback starts, and until the friction point is reached, press the car gas, and release the clutch further.
The idea is to give the car more power to counter the gravity, and you can start without rolling back. As you get better, you can slowly reduce the use of the parking brake until you won't feel the need to use it.
The most important thing you need to incorporate while driving is anticipation. You need to forebode a corner, a tricky situation, or a hill and switch over to the correct gear before reducing speed or accelerating.
You must have seen newbie drivers hitching and stalling while learning. The information provided would help take some pain and embarrassment out of their learning experience. Obviously, no write-up can help and train as a standard trainer can, who doesn't mind you eroding his car's clutch while you learn to drive it!