First, we’ll show you the general principles behind the clutch and gear stick without getting too deep into technical details. Then let’s jump into my Mercedes and practice driving stick shift.
PART 1: PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE CLUTCH AND GEAR STICK
THE ROLE OF THE CLUTCH
* Here’s the ENGINE. Its job is to produce power.
* Here’s the TRANSMISSION. Think of it as a powerful set of gears. Its job is to change the gears so that the car can efficiently use the engine power and increase your car speed.
Now imagine trying to change the blades of a saw. You wouldn’t do it while the saw is running, right? It’s similar for a car. In a running car, the engine spins all the time. How can we slow down the gears and change the gears – without turning off the engine?
Quick answer is that the engine and transmission need to be temporarily disconnected.
That’s what the clutch system is for. The clutch allows us to change gears without stopping the engine – because it temporarily disconnects the 2 systems.
In an automatic car, this process is taken care of for you. But in a manual car, you have to manually disconnect the engine and transmission. That’s why we have this third pedal, which is the CLUTCH PEDAL, here on your left.
Also in a manual car, you have to manually shift gears to change speed or drive in reverse. That’s why we have the GEAR STICK. It’s connected to the transmission.
THE GEAR STICK
Here’s our gear stick. The gears are numbered, and it’s easy to understand where to move the stick to shift gears. Just follow the lines.
* NEUTRAL is when the gear stick is in the middle. You’re in Neutral when you can freely move the stick from left to right.
* Here’s REVERSE. Most cars require an extra safety measure to shift to Reverse. You’ll need to refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for the specifics for your car.
* These numbered gears are for different speeds when you’re driving forward. 1ST GEAR is for low speeds, like when you’re pulling out of a garage or parking lot. The higher the number, the higher the speed. Continue reading