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Manual Transmission Driving Tips

Elvis Elvis

Here are some of the most useful manual transmission driving tips to help with mastering clutch control and gear selection.

When to use lower or higher gears

One of the best manual transmission driving tips to help with the control and responsiveness of the car is to be in the right gear for whatever road speed you’re traveling at.

For example, changing down gear is often useful if you are slowing on an exit slip from a freeway/motorway, or when slowing down on a slippery road or approaching a hazard of some sort.

Changing down gear in these situations is a useful manual transmission driving tip, because the car is then placed in a chosen gear that will aid grip and provide good response if needed.

If approaching a hazard, you may need to pull away from the hazard quickly. Being in a gear with mid engine rpm and good torque response means you can do this easily.

Using the transmission to slow down on a slippery road will help to keep the car stable and reduce long periods of braking. In turn, the chances of skidding will be reduced.

When taking a corner at speed, select a gear which gives best engine response, this will be somewhere in the middle rpm range depending on the engine.

This gives best control as the engine is in sync with the road speed. You can then generally maintain, increase or reduce speed very effectively with throttle control, relying less on brakes.

Trying to take a corner at speed in a high gear like 5th when 3rd gear would give best engine response, will result in uncomfortable and loose handling.

It is also often a good idea to change down to a lower gear in hill situations depending on the steepness, traveling either up or down.

This either helps to hold the car back by using the engine’s compression, or it provides good range of power from the engine to pull up a large hill.

The car will work to help you out on the roads if you use the gears this way with smooth gear change.

How to master good clutch control?

Good clutch control is fundamental.

Sensitive movement when using the clutch will give best results.

Manual Transmission Driving Tips

When you need particularly good clutch control, for instance in a hill start situation, the following technique will give best control.

Begin by releasing the clutch with your foot off the floor of the car. Point your foot forwards on the peddle so you have good ankle movement backwards.

As soon as you notice the clutch start to bite, rest your heel on the floor. You will then be able to use just ankle movement to release the rest (and most tricky part) of the clutch smoothly, which is when it’s connecting with the transmission.

Using the clutch like this also removes twitchy type leg movements.

Also, to save wear on the clutch it’s worth taking your foot off the clutch pedal when in gear and driving.

Good driving shoes

The next manual transmission driving tip is to wear good driving shoes with thin soles.

Heavy boots, high heels or uncomfortable shoes are not advisable as they won’t help give a good feel for the clutch and engine responses.

Light, supple shoes will give the best feedback to the feet, allowing for better pedal control.

You can also buy specifically designed driving shoes to help with driving.

Use of handbrake

Another manual transmission driving tip relates to good use of the handbrake. The handbrake is most useful when using the clutch to pull away on a hill for example.

Easiest way to master this in a stop start hill situation is to hold the car with the brake pedal initially.

Then apply the handbrake and release the foot pedal. The back end of the car will likely lift here but it should not roll back. Keep your foot ready over the brake pedal, just in case.

Push the clutch in and place the car in gear.

Pull the handbrake up slightly and press the button to unlock.

Hold reasonable rpm – 2000, 2500 and begin to release the clutch using the technique explained earlier.

As you feel the back of the car drop, release the handbrake and you should pull away smoothly by increasing throttle.

A good feel for gear stick movement and layout

Most manual transmissions use a similar layout to that shown in the picture.

To avoid crunching gears, it’s worth remembering that the gear stick usually doesn’t need any left or right movement when selecting 3rd or 4th gear.

Pushing the clutch pedal right down when changing gear also helps avoid problems.