How To Master The Dying Art Of Driving A Stick Shift

Mazda 2 Gear Shift

Photo: Robert Libetti / Business Insider

Even though the manual transmission is making a small resurgence — 6.5 per cent of cars sold so far this year have a manual gearbox — an appalling number of people still have no idea how to operate one.While it may seem daunting, it actually isn’t very complicated at all.

With just a little practice, anyone can become competent in a short amount of time.

It is also a very useful skill to have, especially if you enjoy driving. It makes you more alert and in tune with a car.

Plus, a manual transmission can save you money. Base prices for cars with manuals are typically lower than their automatic brothers. And when you choose when to shift, you also control fuel consumption. It could mean less trips to the pump.

1. Sit in the car, get comfortable, and get used to the idea of using your left foot while driving. Ideally, you'll have the car in a flat parking lot.

2. Push the clutch (that's the one all the way to the left) all the way down. Turn the car on.

3. Slide the gear lever into first gear.

4. Each clutch is different. An easy way to get to know it is to slowly release it without applying any throttle until you feel the car start to move. Now that the car is creeping, you can slowly release the clutch all the way and apply the gas.

5. Take your left foot totally off the clutch and accelerate.

6. When it's time to shift again, slide down the clutch, shift the car to the next gear, release clutch, and repeat.

7. When coming to a stop, simply shift to neutral. It's better to keep your foot off the clutch when stopped so you don't wear it out. If you don't take the car out of gear, it will stall, so this is important.

8. Start again at step one. If you stop on a hill, put on the parking brake to hold the car. When it's time to start, release the clutch slowly while applying throttle. As you feel the clutch engage, release the parking brake.

If you get more advanced, you can downshift as you come to a stop. An easy way is to simply slip the car into a lower gear and let the clutch out slowly, but that causes a lot of wear as the speed of the engine will be lower than that of the gearbox.

Now, if you really master the technique, you can heel/toe shift, which means you are braking while shifting. It's complicated. Check out F1 legend Ayrton Senna doing a masterful job below.

Source: YouTube

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