Easy Steps to Driving a Stick Shift

July 28th, 2011
Stick Shift

Learning to drive a stick shift car can be a challenge and quite frustrating, but with the help of these simple tips you could be driving a manual car in no time.  Let’s start with the basics:

Park and Practice

  1. The first thing when getting into a stick shift car you will notice is that there are three pedals instead of two. The Clutch, which is on the far left, the Brake, in the middle, and the gas, which is on the far right.
  2. Next you will want to study your gearshift, which shows you where each gear is located and looks like two H’s infused together.

Before you get on the road you will want to practice shifting through each gear while using the clutch with the car off, this will give you a better idea of how it will feel driving.

When first learning to drive a stick shift the best thing to do until you get acclimated to the pedals and gear stick is to practice in an empty lot with no one around.

Getting Passed First

  1. Pull up the parking brake and put the gear in neutral.
  2. Place your right foot on the brake and start the car.  Not taking your foot off the brake put your left foot on the clutch, moving the gear stick into first gear, which is the far top left of the H. If by any chance the car stalls place the stick shift back into neutral before starting the car again.
  3. When you feel ready release the parking brake and take your right foot off of the brake.
  4. Put your right foot on the gas pedal and slowly apply pressure. Taking your left foot off of the clutch slowly, apply more pressure to the gas.  You want to make sure you are evenly applying as much pressure as you are releasing, this will move the car forward in first gear.
  5. Repeat the previous step until you go through all the gears, you don’t need to fifth gear unless you are driving on a highway. Each gear has a speed range that will help you know when to shift to the next gear.

First from 0 to 15 MPH tops

Second 3 to 25 MPH

Third 15 to 45 MPH

Fourth 30 to 65 MPH

Fifth 45 to the vehicles maximum speed MPH

Slow Down and Park

  1. When downshifting you want to do the previous steps in reverse, apply pressure to your clutch and release the gas.  Then apply pressure to your brake releasing the clutch in the same even distribution as when you were moving into first.
  2. When parking you want to place the car in first gear and apply the parking brake then shut the car off.


When putting the car in reverse you will want to press down on both the brake and the clutch and move the stick shift to the R which is usually located directly below the fifth gear but in some cases can also be located to the left of first and second. You then want to take your foot off of the brake and apply pressure to the gas, then evenly apply and release just as if you were moving out of first gear only in the opposite direction.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you have figured out how simple driving a stick shift is, practice in the empty lot as much as you can before taking your talents to the streets. The more you practice the quicker it will become second nature to you to shift those gears. Good luck and remember it’s not as hard as it looks.


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