Sally has always been interested in cars. She's 19 and is trading in her 93
automatic corolla for a 98 Civic EX coupe. we pick it up on Saturday. She
has never driven a stick before. I have owned standards before and grew up
driving motorcycles but I haven't had to teach someone to drive stick
Any suggestions would be appreciated. I read that you should have them try
to get the car going without using the gas. Just by slowly letting the
clutch out you can feel the transmission engage.
Should be an interesting drive home on Saturday...
A driving instructor would be a good idea for a first time driver. If she
already has driving experience and road sense, then learning to operate a
manual transmission is the easy part. I agree with the large carpark
I agree a car park is a good idea.
In regards to a driving instructor only being for first time drivers, with
that I don't agree. Going from an automatic to a stick is a very different
dynamic. Different habits to make or break, different had placement, etc...
Hand placement and habits will come naturally. The most important parts of
driving are road sense and the ability to react in a situation. If these
skills are already learned (from experience or a teacher) then opeartion of
a clutch and a manual trans. can be learned very quickly just by doing it.
Just my opinion.
And that was my initial opinion as well. But on further thought, like
reacting in a situation, the reaction is different. With an automatic
(driving like one should (not necessarily how most of us do or don't drive))
one has both hands on the wheel and 1 foot on the dead pedal. In a stick
the dynamic is different. We're now removing 1 hand from the wheel, putting
it on a stick and operating a second pedal.
You get cut off in an automatic and have to drop your speed from 60 to 30
all you do is hit the brake. In a stick, you are hitting the brake, hitting
the clutch, downshifting (one less hand on the wheel during this maneuver).
Yes, road sense they should already have, but there's a lot more to driving
than road sense. Also, habits that are already in place are a lot more
difficult to break than new habits that "come naturally". My wife learned
to fly a plane before learning to drive a car. Here she was coming from
something more difficult to do to something easier and it took a lot to get
her able to pass a drivers test.
I would consider going from automatic to stick an increase in difficulty as
opposed to a decrease.
Just my opinion.
I agree with all this too, but also remember that the first time she has to
stop on an incline, it will be a panic situation cause she will roll
backwards. I find teaching people how to deal with that situation, and
explaining exactly what happens when releasing the clutch pedal helps.
People are so used to the car keeping them from rolling backwards with the
Just you and her in the car, no other distractions.
After the parking lot bucking bronco ride smoothens out, let her ouf
of the corral.
Take her on your best, local country road, where you have the
flexibility to go thru all the gears: up and down. Make a circuit out
of it, so you can have her do that stretch 10 times or so over and
over, all the time moitoring her action.
The sooner she gets comfortable with the stick, the sooner she won't
be a concern when she goes out on the hiway. Make her laugh.
As several already suggested, an empty parking lot is great.
When I taught my daughter, I brought larger boxes and put them where
normally cars are parked. This way she can practice parking, pulling
After the first lesson, all boxes were pretty much flat and run over :)
She's been driving for five years now - no accidents - so those boxes
were a cheap investment :)
The best preventive medicine is to have her carry by herself the costs of
buying and owning this very nice car.
Then, unless she's a total airhead, she'll decide on her own to practice
extensively in a vacant parking lot, preferably with a small slope, whence
she points the car downward, before going out on the streets.
Once she gets the basic idea down, practice is all that's necessary. Daddy
should get out of the car unless he can stay quiet and offer moral support.
Girl needs to concentrate.
I know you have already gotten tons of comments on this so I agree with some
I don't. Anyway. After years of driving an automatic, and playing with
tractors learning to drive a stick was not that bad. My now husband took me
out to our fairgrounds. Learning to drive the car wasn't bad it was getting
up the hill from a stop that was torture, and the scariest thing when
driving. Everything else came naturally after a few tries. One note show
her how to do it, then sit with while she tries. (I am talking about the
hill) providing there is no one around and nothing too close that she can
hit if she starts getting frustrated because you are in the car (no offense
but I did with my husband because I couldn't stand him just starring at me
while I tried to get that car up the hill) get out and let her try on her
own. Obviously don't go far and keep the window down so you can yell to her
if she needs it.
Easiest way my husband taught me was to keep my clutch heel up that way I
got full feel of the clutch going in and out.
To this day we still have his little car 9 years later so I didn't hurt it,
and other than the occasional getting on a slope I love driving a clutch.
She will do fine.
Wow! Lots of responses, some of which completely miss the point; how to
teach a qualified driver how to use a manual transmission.
I taught both of my kids and my approach is similar to some that have
been suggested. I found a level stretch of country road that dead-ended.
Then, had the driver start the car in motion in first gear, with only
the clutch, no gas. After that became easy, do the same in second gear.
After that, just to prove that it could be done, start in third gear.
The repeat starting in first gear but with application of gas.
Then start over, the same exercise, but on a modest incline.
Finally, a similar exercise, but on a steeper incline (enough that
the car will roll back in short order), and use the handbrake to
prevent rollback. Unless you drive in very hilly country, you shouldn't
need the technique very often, but it can come in handy when you need
This very quickly trains the left foot. And for those who have never
done it, no, it is not hard on the clutch to start in second with no
gas on a level road.
(Or you could do what my sister did; just drive it home. Nothing like
necessity to create skills quickly.)
(This account is not used for email.)
I taught my stepdaughter to drive using a manual-transmission car
(my '93 Civic EX coupe, in fact). She was also taking driving
lessons at school, but they use automatics, and frankly I'm not sure
the class was particularly useful. My wife and I both believe it's
useful to know how to drive a manual; also, we didn't own any
automatic-transmission vehicles at the time.
We were in Nebraska, so wide open spaces and back roads were readily
- Keep reminding her, and yourself, that learning to use the clutch
takes practice, and driving will be rough and frustrating for a
while no matter how careful she is.
- Sometimes just driving back and forth in the driveway can be good
clutch practice when you're first learning.
- Start in an empty parking lot or similar. Move on to low-traffic
roads without significant hills when she's comfortable with starting
and shifting. Some people develop a tendency to hold the clutch
pedal down and freewheel around curves when they're first learning to
drive a manual; I'd recommend correcting that, if it appears, before
heading onto real roads. (Don't want to lose control going around a
curve and run into oncoming traffic...)
- Once she's good with level roads, practice with things like hill
Really, though, it's just a matter of being sensible and practicing.
I don't think there are any shortcuts. The main things are to avoid
tackling something before she's ready and not quitting out of
frustration (which is what happened when my father tried to teach
me; I ended up learning on my own, driving a Toyota Tercel around
town in the wee hours of the morning when there were no other cars
to worry about).
Michael Wojcik firstname.lastname@example.org
Any average educated person can turn out competent verse. -- W. H. Auden
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