Monday, February 22, 2010

Something everyone with a license should know....

I have always believed that driving is an art and not just getting from point A to point B. Its something you are born with. I started driving from the age of 10 and I knew how to drive even before I got a chance to lay my hands over the wheels. Even as a child I would keenly watch how others drove and the had a pretty good understanding about why there are gears and what is the purpose of a clutch.

If you are one of the people who have been driving an automatic car since they got their license then chances are that you haven't learned how to drive a manual transmission car, or "stick" as most people say. For some people it's hard to understand how much gas to give it, how much to let off the clutch, how to get going, ect ect. I'll give you a few tips on how to drive stick and hopefully you can go out and learn something new.

First let's talk about how it basically works. When you push in the clutch, the clutch pulls off the transmission(read as the connection between the engine and the wheels) and is sitting there freely with no friction. As you release the clutch it closes down onto the gears in the transmission and starts to go because the gears are set in motion based on what gear you put it in with your hand. So think of it as if you have a record spinning and you put your finger on it slightly the record will slow down unless you turn up the speed on the record, and if you push down to hard, it just stops it because you have too much pressure without enough force to keep the record spinning. This is just like your transmission, you need enough force to keep the transmission working while allowing the clutch to sit on it. Lets start with the basics.

A good thing to do before actually starting the vehicle is to play around with the shifter and kinda get a feel on how to put it into the different gears. Make sure the parking brake is on so that you don't roll away. After you get a feel for it, put the car into neutral by moving the stick to the middle of the gears where it feels loose and free. Once there push down on the clutch (make sure the P-Brake is still on) and turn the key until it starts. I recommend you doing this on flat ground so that you don't roll away and it's easier to learn. After the vehicle is started, let go of the clutch and release the parking brake. Take a deep breath and push the clutch in and put the vehicle into first gear while holding the clutch in. Slowly release the clutch and you'll feel the vehicle start to move, once you feel that give it a little bit of gas to keep it from stalling. If you let the clutch out without giving it gas, the car will jerk and buck and then stall out. You want to release the clutch as you are giving it gas so that it equals out. This first part is usually the hardest and a good way to get a feel for it is just to keep practicing letting off the clutch and giving it gas so it moves. When I first learned how to drive stick, I would wait till I could feel the car start to move and then give it gas. After you give it gas it won't be long till you have to shift. You should shift gears around 3000 RPM or before it gets to the red area on your RPM reader. When shifting just push in the clutch all the way and let off the gas. Once you let go of the gas just shift from 1st to 2nd and release the clutch smoothly while giving it gas again. Continue to do so up to however many gears you have. Now comes for the stopping.

Stopping isn't your normal just push on the brake and everything is good. If you vehicle is any gear besides neutral then you have to push in the clutch all the way while you push the brake. If you have the car in a gear while pushing the brake and you stop then the car will jerk and buck and then stall out and you will look like a fool as you sit there at a stop light and have to turn your car back on. So when coming to stop just push in the clutch and hit the brake if you are in gear, or you can just put it in neutal and put on the brake. If the vehicle is in neutral then you can put the brake on without having to put in the clutch, this is because there is no gear for the clutch to rub up against and stall out on if it is in neutral. Another way of slowing down is to downshift, to downshift just put the car into a gear that is lower then what you're in, i.e. if you are in 4th then put it in 3rd gear. After it's in gear just slowly release the clutch. The RPMs will go up more so but you will slow down a little without putting on the brake. All you have to do is put it in a lower gear then slowly let off the clutch and the vehicle will start to change gears and slow down. This can be hard to get used to, so I don't recommend it to new stick drivers.

So there you have it, you now know how to drive stick...kinda. Just remember to give out equal gas to clutch pressure and put in the clutch when stopping. Getting to get going is the hardest part because that requires the most attention. Once you get going it's really just simple because all you do is switch gears and hit the gas. After driving stick for a while you'll find that it is a lot more fun to drive at times. When you have a fun small sports car it can be really fun because you can accellerate quicker and more precise that way. Also a lot of times you forget you're driving stick because it becomes so natural. I know at times I forget im driving stick and I almost stall because i forget to put int he clutch when i come to a stop. Hope this has been useful. Always wear your seatbelt, or else i'll pull the car over.

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