Manual car tips

5 tips to help you learn how to drive a manual car.

Here are our top 5 tips to help you learn how to drive a manual car. These tips are for you if you're about to start or just beginning to learn how to drive a manual car. Practice all of them before going out onto busy roads.

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Top 5 how to drive a manual car tips video.

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How to change gear


Changing gear tips

Positioning of the gears & how to change gear.

Our first tip is to get used to where the gears are positioned and how to change gear.

Memorise the diagram on top of the gear lever as it shows where each gear is positioned.

Practice changing gear with the engine off to save fuel.

Correct hand position on the gear lever can help you make less mistakes. Push left and forward for 1st. Hold it lightly to the left and back for 2nd.

Don't push it hard into gear. Especially when changing to 3rd. Just push it forward lightly and allow the gear lever to spring to neutral and then forward to 3rd. There's no need to grip it tightly.

Straight back in a straight line for 4th.

Push forward lightly and to the right for 5th and keep light pressure to the right and back for 6th. Not all cars have 6 gears. Reverse is where the R is on the diagram and can be in a different position depending on the car but you won't go into reverse by accident as you normally have to lift a metal collar on the gear lever or push it down to select reverse.

Practice changing down through the gears. After that, try skipping gears. selecting different gears.

Practice changing gear without looking at the gear lever. This is important to practice as you don't want to look down while you're driving.

Biting point


Set the gas

Biting point.

2nd tip is to really get used to where the biting point is. The biting point along with the gas makes the car move forward.

Press the clutch down, select 1st gear and to help avoid stalling, set the gas. It's not precise but press the gas pedal lightly and rev the engine to roughly 1 and a half.

Now slowly raise the clutch to the biting point. You know when you've got it as the back of the car dips, the front raises slightly and the engine sound changes a little. Now press the clutch down and practice getting the biting point again. Keep repeating this and hopefully you'll start getting the biting point quicker. This will be important for situations like when you're waiting at traffic lights, it changes to green and you don't want to take ages setting the gas and finding the biting point to move off as it might annoy other drivers. So really get used to where the biting point is.

Moving off and stopping in a manual car


Moving off without stalling

Moving off and stopping.

Our third tip is to practice lots of moving off and stopping without stalling. It's probably the hardest part of learning to drive a manual car. Practice this a lot within a quiet area where you can really concentrate on the pedals.

When moving off, to help the car not stall, remember to set the gas first then biting point.

When you release the parking brake to go, don't release the clutch too soon. Keep at the biting point for about 2-3 seconds and once you're moving faster than a walking pace, gently release the clutch. A common reason for stalling is releasing the clutch too soon when moving off.

When stopping, remember to press the clutch down about 2 car lengths or 2 seconds before you want to stop completely to avoid stalling.

You're going to be moving off and stopping a lot, so practice it until you're confident and then move onto busier roads.

Practice stopping, going again. stopping, going and keep repeating it. The practice will pay off and make you more confident.

Clutch control


Clutch control in traffic

Clutch control.

Our next tip is to practice lots of clutch control. This will help when you're creeping slowly in stop, start traffic and emerging carefully out of junctions.

To creep slowly, set the gas and get the biting point. Feet still. This will maintain a slow speed unless you're driving downhill.

Lower the clutch about a pound coin thickness to slow down or raise the clutch slightly to increase speed.

Although pressing the gas at this point doesn't affect the speed, It's still good to use a little gas as it helps the car not stall. Off gas and press the clutch down fully and brake to go even slower or stop.

You have to use clutch control when driving roughly between 0-5 mph. When you want to drive faster than about 5mph, more gas and gently raise the clutch all the way.

Clutch control is a crucial part of driving a manual car and one we'd recommend practicing a lot. Always practice in a quiet area to start with.

When to change gear


When to change gears

When to change gear.

Our final tip is to practice when to change up and down gear.

Although there are more advanced techniques, you would normally accelerate before changing up a gear and slow down before changing down gears. But changing down to the wrong gear for your speed can make the car jerk.

Lower gears provide more power. Any time you slow down, you'll have to think if you need to change down to a lower gear. You can only drive so fast or slow in each gear. It does vary from car to car but generally in 1st gear you can get up to about 15mph before changing up to 2nd. 2nd will take you up to about 20-25mph and then you should change up to 3rd. You can get a lot more speed out of the higher gears.

You'll know when to change up a gear as the engine sounds like it's working too hard and it becomes noisier. It's not precise when to change gear, it can depend on how fast you want to accelerate, which car you're driving, how much weight is in the car and whether you're driving up or downhill.

If you reduce your speed below roughly 20 mph you'll need 2nd, if you drive slower than about 10mph you'll need 1st. But you don't need to change down through the gears. Instead, slow down to the speed you needand then change gear.

Although you can stop the car in any gear, always remember to change back to 1st if you want to move off again or otherwise the car will probably stall.

You might also like these:      
When to change gear
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