Smart Tips For Driving A Car Equipped With A Manual TransmissionSmart Tips For Driving A Car Equipped With A Manual Transmission

Most cars, trucks, and SUVs built today are equipped with automatic transmissions. Driving a stick shift is less popular than in the past, and automakers have adjusted their assembly lines accordingly. This means those who would like to learn the skill have fewer opportunities to do so since it is seldom taught in driver's education classes. Combined with the fact that so few people know how to do it well, there's a good chance a lot of novices are learning to do it improperly.

In this article, we'll provide four quick tips for driving a car that is equipped with a manual transmission. The suggestions that follow are not meant to be a guide for racing or even maximizing your engine's output. Instead, our goal is to help you avoid a few common mistakes many novices make that accelerate the need for costly repairs.

1 - If Your Car Lurches, You're Doing Something Wrong

A lot of people grow accustomed to letting their vehicles lurch whenever they shift down through the gears. They were never taught the lurching could be prevented. The reason it happens during a downshift is because the speed of your engine is much less than the speed of your wheels. When you put the clutch in, the variance between the speeds causes your car to pitch forward.

You can avoid it by using a technique called rev-matching when you downshift. By throttling to bring your engine's speed (i.e. rpms) closer in line with the speed of your wheels, you'll be able to engage the clutch more seamlessly. The result is less wear on the clutch over time.

2 - Avoid Riding The Clutch

Riding the clutch means you're keeping it disengaged, if only slightly. This means it is not fully engaging the flywheel. Some people do this without being aware of it, as can happen when they lightly rest their foot on the clutch. Others do it knowingly without realizing there are consequences: premature wear on the clutch and flywheel.

Think of it similarly to the wear that occurs on your brake pads. If you constantly ride your brakes, the pads will wear more quickly, and need to be replaced more frequently. The same is true for your clutch, though replacing it will cost much more than replacing your brake pads.

3 - Prevent Rollbacks With Your Brakes

A lot of drivers rely on their clutch to prevent them from rolling back when they're climbing a hill. If you're on an incline, and you're concerned about rollbacks, use your brake, not your clutch. Otherwise, you'll burn it out, and need to replace it.

When you find yourself on a particularly steep hill, it's difficult to avoid rolling back before hitting the clutch. If you haven't mastered the technique, use your emergency brake. Don't apply it completely, but instead just enough to prevent your vehicle from rolling. When you're able to put the clutch in, and start moving forward, release the emergency brake. It's cheating, but still a good option on steep inclines until you master the brake-clutch switch.

4 - Don't Rely On The Clutch To Slow Down

Too many drivers do this. They try to preserve their brakes by slowing their vehicles down using their clutches. Does it work? Yes. But it makes very little sense to do it since it costs far less to replace the brake pads than to replace the clutch plate.

It is a good idea to preserve your brakes by using them less frequently. However, try to do this by adopting good driving habits, such as looking down the road and anticipating traffic. Don't use your clutch for this purpose.

Driving a car equipped with a manual transmission is becoming an all but forgotten skill. More people than ever are opting for vehicles with automatic transmissions. If you're learning to drive stick, follow the suggestions above to avoid burning your clutch out prematurely.
by Larry J. Reaves
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