A Beginner’s Guide to Driving Stick Shift: An Animated Visual Guide This post brought to you by Old Spice. Use new Re-Fresh body spray and spray goodbye to your boyhood. What is this? Andrew Snavely Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine. How-to'sLife SkillsVisual Guides Henning Hi, this is a great website and a great visualized tutorial, but I have to ask: What do you Americans learn in driving school? ;D Greetings from Germany, keep it going! JCallaway While there are independent driving schools in the U.S., most students learn to drive through optional classes during high school. Typically, these optional classes teach only basic driving skills, and all practical coursework is done in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, as that is what the vast majority will use. Henning Oh, I see- well, I just was confused, because in Germany you have to take the practical test in a non-automatic vehicle and asked several questions concerning engine and stick shifting in the theoretical test. 😉 http://rlcamp.com/ RCAMP I wish that was a requirement in the US. I think having experience driving a manual makes you a better driver (you have to think more about your actions!). Although I’m probably biased since I drive a stick. :p Douglas Aldrich I agree. I drive an automatic, and looking for a car now, I’d like to learn more about a standard. Of course, the worse time to learn is after you bought it! http://rlcamp.com/ RCAMP There’s no better incentive to learn than when you don’t have a choice! Ha ha. I actually didn’t know how to drive a stick when I bought my car, but I knew I wanted to learn. With driving every day, it took me about 2 weeks to get Stop to 1st gear consistent without stalling and about 3 months for all the shifting it to feel natural. At 6 months, I was starting on steep hills, downshifting into corners, gliding into gears, and having a blast. 🙂 I’ve had my car for almost 6 years now and haven’t had any problems with my clutch or transmission despite all the mistakes I made at first. So… go for it! 🙂 Brian Barnes Honestly, I’m 30 years old and have driven for half my life in an automatic. I had to look this up just to make sure I knew how to drive a standard as I’ve never had one until now. I feel a little cheated… Bastian I just wanted to ask the same question 🙂 Adam Brewton Just echoing what others have already said. My 15 year old nephew just passed his HS Driver’s Ed course (with flying colors according to the instructor) and passed his driver’s test (written and driving). He was riding with me this weekend in my manual transmissioned Jeep and asked why I set the hand brake when we stopped for fuel. After some discussion, it turns out that they did not cover manual transmissions AT ALL! Not even in theory. Kudos to Germany and any other country with similar testing requirements. Adam Brewton I also realized that I have some serious work to do with him 🙂 http://rlcamp.com/ RCAMP You would think manuals might at least get a gloss over since many cars these days are coming out with hybrid auto/manual transmissions. It could be like an optional add-on to the course or something. William Avery Peete It is rules of the road. Signs laws etc. Once you get behind the wheels it’s usually an automatic economy car. That has no posibilty of tire spin on dry pavement. Barbie Varner lol I just got my first Volkswagen lol abd this is very helpful to see this I’ve never driven a standard http://rlcamp.com/ RCAMP Nice visual with good tips. I would just suggest that a beginner always use the emergency brake when parking the car. Hill, flat, or otherwise. Just a good habit to get into since you never know what might come along and hit your car while you are away from it. Ken Nice article. The only thing I would add to it is advice on “roll starting” a car if it won’t start otherwise. I did my driver’s training in high school, and we used cars with automatic transmission. As another poster mentioned, we did only the basic skills in class. BYC Awesome article. Tyler Good article. I am happy I learned to drive on an automatic and learned stick later. When you first learn how to drive, there is enough going through your mind with the rules of the road and gaining confidence. If you learn stick later you are able to devout your attention to actually learning stick and not necessarily driving. Tyler *devote http://rlcamp.com/ RCAMP That’s a fair point. PatricKY I grew up on a farm with older equipment and trucks so the basics of a clutch and shifting we’re taught and learned at an early age. The tutorial above is excellent but one pointer to help calm nerves when accelerating from a stop is to not look at the pedals or the gauges, keep your eyes looking forward at where you intend to go and not overthink the acceleration and worry about stalling. Just my 2 cents but by all means the mechanics of shifting are spot on above, my comment just addresses the confidence, which is key as well. Judson M I currently drive a manual and have taught a lot of my friends how to do so. In the number of 20 or so. I used to think it was crazy that people didn’t know how to drive a stick, but seeing recent stats on the number of cars these days sold with manuals it doesn’t surprise me anymore. Anyways, I completely agree with getting people to start learning the catch or bite point of the clutch first then learning to hover the throttle. It is the exact method I use and wish it was the way I was taught. Learning to feel the clutch is the most difficult part, if you ask me. So as a daily driver of a manual, I whole-heartedly approve of this guide for anyone learning how to or teaching others to drive a manual transmission. PS, If you live in an area with a lot of traffic, better start working out your right leg because your left one with start to bulk lol! I have been sore before simply from being in a traffic jam for a few hours. Jose So true. Learning the clutch pedal “bite” point is the first thing I always teach too. I just have them get the car started by moving the clutch only, then push it back all the way in. Repeat this step over and over until they can do it quickly, then slowly add in the gas pedal. http://www.distancedirection.com/ Patrick Fantastic! As always, graphics are very well done and easy to follow. Now I just need to go find a car to practice with… http://maddendude.blogspot.com/ Baseman This is probably the best tutorial I’ve ever seen on driving stick. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. JolleyMan I’m on my fourth manual transmission car. The easiest one I ever drove was a 5-speed Ford Explorer. That truck had great low-end torque and was almost impossible to stall. Plus, there’s something fun about that crazy long shifter. Felt like I was driving a big rig… with only 5 gears. This wasn’t mine, but it was the same. Pingback: The Manly Art Of Stick Handling() Pingback: 3000 Mile Oil Change-Truth Or Myth? » The Manly Art Of Stick Handling() RoswellMatt There are two things I would add. First, the minimum acceptable engine speed increases as you go into the higher gears. It’s perfectly acceptable to drive around in first gear at 1200 rpm, but it’s not a good idea in top gear. Also, I would recommend a momentary pause in neutral while upshifting, to give the input shaft a chance to decelerate. When you’re upshifting, the newly selected gear will require the input shaft to be turning more slowly before it can be engaged by the shift mechanism, and a momentary pause in neutral will give it a chance to slow. http://www.youtube.com/user/bigtruckseriesreview bigtruckseriesreview . MY CARS simply allow me to put the stick into drive, FLOOR THE ACCELERATOR and DRIVE. This guide is CUTE, but far too goddamned complicated! Blastergamer but you have less driving fun, more fuel consumption and is more costly to repair an automatic. tellingyouthetruth I think once someone gets the hang of shifting it becomes much easier for them Captain Checker Here in the UK majority of us drive manual cars as opposed to the majority who drive automatics in the States. There’s a common belief that “auto” are for lazy drivers. Manuals are the skillful drivers and once you get the hang of it, the brain works in auto mode as things flow smoothly; when to shift gears when turning corners or speeding up (or down) etc. The sad thing now here in the UK is that more and more people are starting to drive “autos”. Just A Bloke If you pass your test in a manual car, you can drive both manual & automatic cars. But if you pass in an automatic, you can only drive an automatic. So if you can manage it, pass in a manual. If you can’t, so what, drive an automatic, at the end of the day it’s about getting from one place to another. Sorry Yeah, none of this is animated. And all of it is too overwhelming, convoluted, and filled with jargon to be an effective “beginners'” guide. I appreciate the effort, though. Bowie Great article! Here are some Transmission tips for anyone interested… http://www.nissanofbowie.com/transmission-problems-you-cant-ignore.htm olanordmann Hello! I have two questions. When gearing to a higher gear, should you start giving gass before the clutch is fully out? Or wait for the gass until you take your foot off the clutch. The second question is, what do i do wrong when it smells burned after driving? gregory726 First queston: When shifting to higher gears you can release the clutch fully before applying gas but once you get confident it is smoother to apply a small amount of gas as you release the clutch. Second question: The smell is the clutch burning. Aradhana Siva Awesome blog and having excellent tips for the learners.. Get more useful tips from here: https://www.asafewaydrivingacademy.com/ logoworkgloves Cool infographic. Almost everything you need to know in one image. Don’t need to read a long article. Cool, keep it up with the good info you share and keep it up with your blog’s theme. Thumbs up! … I just bought a stick shift, which I am about to learn how to drive. This website seems to include everything I could ever need in order to drive a stick shift car perfectly. A big shout out to whoever took his time to make such important information readily available to people like me! Pingback: Intensive Driving Course within Your Reach | FFIM Learn to Drive() kelly the post is really amazing. its really knowledgeable and good post. Clutch Kits Kima Nicole Thank you for posting this. I’m learning! Very helpful! 😊 http://www.shubhsaarthi.com RonakGodse This is a superb information on how to drive safely in different kind of roads. It is really helpful for the beginners to learn different tips and tricks about driving in any situation. Keep sharing such kind of articles. logoworkgloves This is a very helpful tips esp for beginners. They can really learn from this anything and almost anything and everything they want to know when it comes to driving methods. Thank you for sharing this. Spoiled Dwarf hi what’s the difference between stopping and braking as mentioned above? Drew Enoch Engine braking only brakes the drive wheels, vs regular braking usually brakes all 4 wheels. This is very important to know depending on what surface you’re driving on (particularly snow). Snow also makes matching RPMs when shifting a little bit more important. As you shift into gear, something called synchros get the gears matching in speed so that they don’t grind. Synchros provide resistance when pushing the shifter into gear, which goes away after a second when the gears sync up (another reason not to white knuckle it). Most cars don’t have synchros for reverse, so it is important that the car isn’t rolling when you shift into reverse. If the gears grind with a normal shift, you’re having problems with your synchros (or if it’s an old car, it might not have any). Try double clutching… That is put the car in neutral, release the clutch, then press it again, and put it into gear. I’ve had synchro problems on an old, used car go away by doing this for a few months. When parking, it is good practice to use the e-brake on both automatics and manuals (just more important on a manual). Cars with manual transmissions can be started by rolling them in neutral (with the ignition on), and then placing them in gear. This forces the engine to turn, where the ignition will do the rest. There is no shame in stalling. It’s part of the learning process. Just be quick to get it started again so you don’t piss off the drivers around you. Craigskeet I grew up on a VW Squareback back in the early 1970’s; just bought a Subaru BRZ 6-speed after almost 30 years of at Landcruiser automatic (I still have it–LOL). There’s literally NOTHING as much fun as driving a manual sports car! Everyone should give it a try! Catress Barber Can you please tell me how to get above 60 mph without going past 3000 rpm kyawmyohtwe thank you very much. Darren Having only ever driven manuals I have learned a lot! As an Audi tech I drove different cars everyday and NO clutch feels the same ever! Even with experience you will stall (performance cars more likely so.) When shifting up lift off the gas as you depress the clutch otherwise the motor will Rev a bit each timing causing undo wear on the clutch. Another good tip after getting used to the clutch and throttle modulation is to use your two middle fingers and thumb to shift you DO NOT need to slam the shifter around. New transmissions and most old ones have springs that center the shifter so you guide with fingers not slam with a fist…..you can shift too fast and grind gears. Some cars can be very hard to upshift smoothly….in that case when getting ready to shift ease up on the accelerator pedal and lightly with two fingers pull back on the shifter and when the engine load comes off the shifter will slide out of gear. At that point stop your throttle foot push in the clutch shift into next gear and continue accelerating. Other than using the clutch going into gear that is how semis do it. If the shifter pops out hard don’t pull on it with as much pressure. And lastly when downshifting ease off the brake as you reengage the clutch to prevent jerky downshifts. Once you master the last two tips you can drive like a bat out of hell smoothly! Roxhannah Van Genechten I am learning how to drive a stick shift. I might be the only one but I prefer automatic transmissions. Although the workout will be great for my legs, cars are expensive enough, they should change their own gears! lol logoworkgloves This is an excellent infographic. Excellent tips which shows all the information and very well explained. Thanks. 0000!!0! Nice. There’s a stick shift simulator that uses your keyboard to control the clutch, brake, accelerator, and gear shifter…. http://hondacivicrepairs.com/stick-shift.asp?q=Learn%20to%20drive%20stick%20shift%20-%20Honda%20Civic&id=29 ebinrock I just don’t know why, after many decades of automatic transmission technology, that it wouldn’t just become the de facto standard and be included in every car (I’ve never driven a stick but from what I’ve read about manual trans, auto is MUCH easier – there’s a REASON auto trans was invented!), and the economies of scale being where the cost would have come down. No, it’s still like a $1000-$1500 option in every car (except in minivans and some SUV’s), which I think is asinine. Just like carpeted floor mats are still an *option* in every vehicle at additional cost! What?