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.
* But where’s P for Parking? Gear sticks in manual cars don’t have a parking gear. That’s why you must always engage the EMERGENCY HANDBRAKE whenever you park.
Now you understand why we need the clutch and gear stick. We’re ready to discuss a few tips, before we dive into how to drive a stick shift.
* Always use your LEFT FOOT whenever you press the clutch pedal.
* Let’s find the FRICTION POINT on the clutch pedal. Try pressing the clutch when the car is parked. You’ll notice it’s fairly smooth at first. But as you press further, you’ll feel a slight resistance and you’ll need a little more muscle to press the rest of the clutch in. That part of the clutch – where you feel resistance – is where the clutch is disconnecting and connecting the engine and transmission.
* It’s ok to press the clutch immediately to disconnect the engine and transmission. But when you let out the clutch to reconnect them, make sure to ease off the clutch slowly. Otherwise if you release the clutch suddenly, the car will jerk or stall, especially when you’re in in 1st Gear.
* Always press the clutch first before you shift gears.
To summarize, here’s the general sequence of action, when dealing with the clutch and gear stick:
1. First press the clutch all the way in
2. Then shift gears
3. Slowly ease off the clutch within the friction point, as you gradually press the gas
PART 2: HOW TO DRIVE STICK SHIFT
Now let’s practice driving stick shift on a flat and empty parking lot.
STARTING IN NEUTRAL
1. CLUTCH in all the way and shift to NEUTRAL
2. START the ignition
REVERSING OUT OF PARKING
3. Since the CLUTCH is still in, now just shift to REVERSE
4. Press the BRAKE PEDAL and release your PARKING HANDBRAKE
5. Slowly ease off the BRAKE and CLUTCH PEDALS simultaneously. The car will start rolling backward. Stay within the friction point and don’t release the clutch fully.
6. To stop reversing, press the BRAKE and CLUTCH pedals.
Visit our website for steps on:
* Getting to 1st Gear
* Shifting from 1st to 2nd Gear
* Coming to a stop
* Parking the car
Disclaimer: Make sure to practice on a flat and empty parking lot. Always refer to your car owner’s manual first, for specifics for your car.
Copyright © 2019 Jimi Moso. All rights reserved.
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