Learning how to drive stick? You’re probably thinking about how much fun it’ll be–and you’re right; driving manual is a much more engaging experience. But it takes some practice, and it’s good to go in with some confidence. That’s where we can help! Knowing what to do is half the battle, and knowing how not to drive your car into a lamp post is the other half. Here are some tips for how not to drive a manual vehicle:
1. Don’t Ride the Clutch
You’ve probably heard this before, but do you know what it means? Try not to rest your foot on the clutch while you drive; it will wear out your clutch. It’s not there to rest your foot on. You might think you’re not applying much pressure, but you are. Your foot is forcing the pedal down, so it takes up slack and, in turn, causes the clutch friction disk to slip. This friction and heat ultimately wear out your clutch, which certainly is how not to drive a manual vehicle.
Another issue with riding the clutch is that it isn’t fully engaged, which can cause slippage with your clutch disk. This also wears down your clutch, so you’ll need to replace it a lot sooner than you otherwise would.
And as fun as it might seem, don’t put in the clutch and cruise in neutral! Use your clutch for shifting and nothing else.
2. Don’t Rest Your Hand on the Stick
Keep both hands on the wheel. No kidding. Right? Not really. It’s a bad habit some manual drivers develop: resting their hand on the gear shift. It’s unnecessary. Shifting takes only a second, and keeping your hands on the wheel is important for all the reasons your parents taught you. None of us want to hear it all again, but, “keep both hands on the wheel at all times”–unless you’re shifting gears.
Resting your hand like this can also wear down your clutch, believe it or not. The weight of your hand can actually cause the parts for gear shifting to rub together. This rubs them down and can cause your car to jump right out of gear while you’re driving. So now you can see why this is how not to drive a manual vehicle, right?
3. Don’t be in-Gear at a Stop Light
Once you’ve put your car into gear and if you’re leaving it there, holding the clutch in, this presses the three main parts of your clutch into one another: the spring, the bearing, and the diaphragm. This action wears them out quicker. Instead, toss your car into neutral and let the clutch out which allows it to relax. You can relax too!
A common argument is that having your car in-gear allows you to move right away, if needed. However, it probably takes you only a split second to put your car in-gear, anyway, and if you let your clutch and car relax a bit, it’s less likely that you’ll run into problems with your clutch in the future.
4. Don’t Hold Yourself on a Hill with the Clutch
This also wears out your friction material and clutch. This is when drivers repeatedly tap the clutch pedal in-gear to avoid rolling down a hill. But what they’re really doing is burning out the friction material on their clutch disc. Not good.
So while your clutch is working at one speed, between the disk and the fly wheel, your engine’s pressure plate is moving at a different speed. They’re working against each other, wearing out the friction material and thus, your clutch. Another example of how not to drive a manual vehicle.
Just stay in neutral on a hill. And when you’re ready to go, you just have to get onto the gas pedal quickly while stepping off your clutch smoothly. This one takes some practice, and once you’ve mastered it, you’re ready to try a more advanced technique for when traffic is tight and there’s another vehicle right behind you. Just follow these steps:
- Pull your emergency brake up
- Push your clutch pedal in
- Put the car in gear
- In one slow, smooth “motion,” press on the gas, ease off the clutch, and slowly push the emergency brake back down
Some newer car models have a brake hold: when you’re on a hill with your clutch pedal in, slowly ease your foot off the brake and the brake hold will hold for you!
5. Don’t Lug the Engine
This is very unhealthy for your engine. If you start flooring the gas pedal at low RPMs, you’re sending your vehicle mixed signals: your car thinks it should be relaxing, but your foot is saying “step on it.” This is called “lugging the engine,” and it stresses the engine out.
Rather than flooring it while you’re in fifth gear, simply downshift. You can even skip a couple of gears as long as you rev-match, which is a technique to prevent shock through the transmission when you’re gearing down.
So there you have it! Some examples of how not to drive a manual vehicle. Drive safe, and drive smart; follow the rules of the road, and remember not to ride the clutch!