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How and Why To Finally Learn to Drive a Stick Shift

If you do not know how to drive a stick shift, it's not too late! Driving a car with a whole extra pedal and incorporating a new and separate action required by your arm (the actual shifting) is a little bit weird feeling at first, and does take some getting used to. You may have heard people saying that driving a stick shift is like riding a bike though, and that you will never forget once you learn. That is, for the most part, pretty true. It is a process of actions that while at first require a lot of conscious thought and effort, once you drive frequently or, ideally on a regular basis this way, it becomes second nature.

The best thing you can do for yourself if you want to learn how to operate a stick shift, is to understand, intellectually, how transmissions work and what it is that each action you take is doing to the engine and transmission. Essentially, the clutch is your new best friend and your safety net. If something starts going crazily wrong: push in the clutch! Each car's clutch is different and it will take some getting used to, knowing how far to push the clutch in on each car you drive but to be safe, and while you are learning, push the clutch in as far as you possibly can get it to go. The clutch, when pushed in, disengages all the gears of the transmission. When you start the car: clutch should be in. The trickiest part of learning to drive a stick shift is getting from park, to first. After the car is started (clutch still all the way to the floor, gears disengaged) put the car into first gear. Leave the clutch in until you are mentally prepared for something bad and stressful to happen because if you're a first timer it probably will. When you are ready, slowly and steadily give the car gas while simultaneously letting off the clutch.

Stalling out is pretty inevitable during the learning process so make sure to drive with and be taught by someone who is very very calm. After you have successfully made the transition into first gear and are slowly moving forward, you will be required to put the clutch in again and shift into second gear. You will know when to shift when the RPM's of your car exceed about 2 or 3. You will also hear how hard your car is working to go the speed you are telling it to and you will know, "Oh, I should change into a more appropriate gear!" Every time you shift, that clutch goes in and once the shift is complete, slowly ease off the clutch. Having a mental image of gears engaging and disengaging helps some people and -just know: the clutch acts as an 'undoer' of all gear activity. Your car is essentially in neutral when the clutch is in.

Good luck, and happy stick shifting! For all your future transmission needs, do not hesitate to call 317-887-1371!

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