How to Drive a Stick Shift

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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How to drive a stick shift vehicle Driving a vehicle with manual transmission, also known as “driving stick”, can be confusing and or very difficult for people of all ages. Many drivers go through life without even owning a vehicle with a manual transmission. Learning to drive stick is a skill that can come in handy as this style of vehicle is very popular. Written instructions are no substitute for hands on activity. Driving standard is a skill acquired by time and cannot be achieved by just reading up on it.

One of the most useful ways to start learning the art of driving a manual transmission or stick shift is to familiarize yourself with the car's clutch. You should already know what the gas and brake pedals do. Get in the car and make sure the emergency brake is engaged. Get a feel for the clutch by putting pressure on it and releasing it for several minutes. This is also a good time to look at the gear shifter, which is usually located on the center console to the right of the driver.

There is usually a map of the gear patterns on the head of the stick shifter, studying this before you are ready to go is a must. If the guide is worn away and unreadable, you should use the car’s manual to find out the mapping of the gears. Another strategy to use would be to pull in the clutch and get a feel for where the gears engage. Once you understand where the gears are, without actually pressing the gas pedal, pretend you are driving and practice speeding up. (Making the sounds is optional and can be humorous. Put the clutch to the floor and put the car in first gear. Pretend you are driving and while speeding up push in the clutch to shift into another gear. Do this for the rest of the gears until you feel comfortable shifting. When coming to a stop, you can do two things. You can push the clutch in and keep the car in gear, or you can put the shifter in the neutral position and let the clutch back up. It is sometimes good to put a stick shift in neutral while stopped, to ease the strain on your leg and foot, and also to lessen wear and tear on your clutch.

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When you are ready to go again, simply press the clutch to the floor and put the shifter into first gear, and give the vehicle a little gas. If you pull the clutch out too fast and give it little gas the car may stall, but to not be discouraged if you do so. Stalling a car with a manual transmission happens to the best of drivers. Once you learn how to do it, and after a little practice, driving a stick shift is fairly easy. It becomes a habit and you’ll find yourself driving a standard vehicle like it’s no big deal. For many, this is a more exciting and fun way to drive a vehicle or truck.

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How to Drive a Stick Shift. (2017, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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