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Tips for Driving a Stick Shift

How to Make Driving a Stick Easier

Driving a stick shift vehicle, also known as manual transmission, can be very intimidating for drivers both young and old. Many drivers go their entire life without owning or having to drive a manual transmission car, but it is a good skill to have since these vehicles are very popular. Once drivers have learned to operate a stick shift and have put in some practice, it is often very simple to master. Here are some tips to help you or someone you know become more comfortable driving a stick shift vehicle.

Practice Without the Car Running

One of the most useful ways to learn how to drive a stick shift is to become familiar with the controls before even starting the car. While all drivers should know how the gas and break work already, it is often the clutch drivers have the most trouble with. A great way to overcome this is to get in the car with the emergency break engaged and get used to the clutch as well as becoming more familiar with the gear shift. This may be located on the ground, the center console, or right of the steering wheel.

Most stick shifts have written guides on them to help locate the different gears. Once there is an understanding of where first gear is, continue to practice changing gears with the vehicle off. Without actually using the gas pedal, pretend to be driving and practicing speeding up – push the clutch to the floor and move the shift into first gear, imagine speeding up, and press the clutch again and move into second gear. Repeat the process and move the gear shift into third, fourth, and fifth gear.

It is important to practice downshifting too – pretend to be slowing down, pressing the clutch, and moving from fourth to third and then again from third to second and so on.

On-Road Training

Once drivers feel they have a good feel for the controls, it is time to take the car on the road. It is best to choose an area that is not heavily trafficked, so that way drivers can take their time going through the motions. Additionally, drivers should consider having a knowledgeable stick shift driver with them to walk them through any problems. The key to learning how to drive stick shift is not to panic – be confident you know and understand the controls and take your time to learn the process.

Think you or someone you know is need of Behind the Wheel Training? Training Wheels is a Brigantine driving school specializing in teaching new teen drivers how to stay safe on the road. For more information on our lessons, please click here.

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