How to drive a manual car

Driving a manual is not as hard as it looks, nor as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. It requires practice to get absolutely right every time and not judder the car when setting off, but it’s mostly muscle memory after a while. We’ve decided to compile this article with the hopes of teaching you how to drive a manual car, and perhaps even helping you overcome your fear of one if you’ve felt it’s hard or scary.

How to Drive a Manual Car

The layout

First off, you might notice that there are three pedals on the floor instead of two. Most people get confused by this prospect, but the reality is that you’re just adding one more component. Yes, we realize you have two feet and there are three pedals, but just thing about how often you’re using your left foot in an automatic? Almost never right? You brake with your right foot. The same applies here, except you’re going to involve your left foot in the entire process… a lot. The rightmost pedal is the accelerator, that hasn’t changed, and the one in the middle is the brake, just like in an automatic. The leftmost pedal is the clutch, which is probably the one thing beginners struggle with the most.

The clutch disengages and engages the drive to the wheels depending on its position. Think of it as a medium between you and the car. When it’s fully depressed, it’s not sending any engine power to the wheels. As you start releasing it more and more, it slowly starts gripping up and connecting the engine to the transmission, thus giving you drive to the wheels. Now, here’s where the gears come in.

A manual transmission is what’s called an H-pattern transmission. Basically, the gears are arranged like the letter H. The leftmost top corner is first, right below it all the way in the leftmost bottom corner is second, then  you have third to the right of it and above, followed by forth and so on. It’s really simple. To set off, you only need first gear.

Depress the clutch fully and put the transmission in first gear. Start slowly releasing the clutch, taking your time. The car won’t jump and it won’t judder. Once you start feeling the pressure point where the clutch connects the engine and the transmission (you’ll definitely feel it), the car will start moving extremely slowing. We’re talking like 1 or 2 mph. Keep the clutch there without freaking out. Congratulations, you’re officially driving manual.

The next step is to gather some speed and completely release the clutch altogether, at which point you’re driving on your own. Changing gear follows the same pattern. Clutch in, shift from 1st to 2nd, or any gear for that matter, and release the clutch progressively. When coming to a halt, just press the clutch and start braking. Always remember to put it in neutral when at a set of lights or while parked, otherwise the car will jump and stall if you release the clutch while the transmission is in gear. Rinse and repeat.

For a great selection of manual vehicles be sure to browse the entire inventory of used and new vehicles at Paul Conte Chevrolet.


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