How to shift a manual transmission
How to Drive a Stick Shift
This article assumes that you already know how to drive and simply need to know how to shift a manual transmission.
1) Determine a safe place to practice. Do not start this practice in a busy area. A rural area with a long straight stretch of road is ideal. You will need practice on shifting before driving in traffic.
2) Begin with vehicle on level ground, if you need to, have someone park it for you, setting the parking brake or, apply foot brake through next several steps.
3) Adjust seat and mirrors for your best viewpoints.
4) Apply seat belt.......it's required in every state!
5) Determine how many gears are in the transmission , whether it is a floor shifter or a column shifter and the pattern of the gears. Most manuals are 5-speeds on the floor, there are some 6-speeds, and there are a few on the column shifters still out there. I have no idea if you are driving a new vehicle or the vehicle that your Grandparents bought new years ago.
6) These next steps may vary by vehicle, some vehicles start in neutral only, some with the clutch depressed, some with your foot on the brake.
My car has a safety ring on the gear shift that must be pulled up in order to shift into reverse. If I fail to do this, the car dies, and sometimes I do forget, because my truck has no such safety feature. Ask the owner about such features.
7) I think we are ready to go now!
a. apply foot brake--if not done already
b. start vehicle
c. shift into neutral
d. with foot still on brake, release parking brake
e. determine that it is safe to drive
f. depress clutch with left foot, shift into 1 st gear, now, in one smooth and fluid motion, remove foot from brake and lightly apply pressure on accelerator with right foot , releasing clutch.
g. you should be rolling now, get ready to shift into 2nd gear, again in one smooth fluid motion, release accelerator, depress clutch, shift, release clutch pedal and accelerate. Repeat this process until you have shifted into the last or 'high' gear.
My husband shifts by rpm, I shift by the sound of the transmission and engine, some vehicles have a shift indicator light. It won't take long to get familiar with your vehicle. I have been driving standards so long, that an automatic transmission is foreign to me now. My left leg just reaches for the clutch and my right hand swims for the shifter on the floor.
One idea is sit in a dining room chair, place a clean toilet plunger slightly to your right and practice your foot and hand coordination. That smooth, fluid, motion is critical. Without mastering that, you will be grinding your gears, wearing them out, or riding your clutch, wearing it out.
Remember, clutch in, gas out, gas out, clutch in. Your vehicle will "die" in gear if you release both clutch and accelerator. So, at stop lights and such, place vehicle in the neutral position and rest your legs!
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