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Jared Gall | Aug 22, 2020 | caranddriver
Don't know how to drive a manual? The key to learning is more expensive but less scary than you think.
 

"Just pay attention. And the only way you're going to screw it up is by moving that without first pushing that." This is what I tell people when I'm teaching them how to drive a stick. If you don't know what "that" and "that" I'm referring to in that sentence, then you could benefit from some instruction.

But how? Manual transmissions are endangered. Maybe you don't know anyone who would let you learn on their car. That leaves you one option, but I promise it's less scary than it sounds: Buy a car with a manual transmission. Even if you've never driven one before.
 

Don't let fear or millennial whimpering convince you otherwise. Driving a stick is easy. There are only two parts to this operation. It can't be any harder than T-ball, playing a game of catch, or swatting a tennis ball against a wall like some lonely nerd. Push clutch, move shifter. Just don't move the shifter without first pushing the clutch and you'll be fine. Sure, later we'll skip gears and downshift and do righteous burnouts and clutch-kick drifts, but for starters, just keep your foot off the gas and let the clutch out nice and slow until the car is moving.

It's not the doing that is hard, it's the doing it well. Like any skill, driving a manual-transmission vehicle takes practice and repetition, which is why immersion through ownership is really the best way to master the stick. Learning on one car is also way easier than cadging rides here and there because every clutch pedal, every flywheel, every transmission is a little different. Get used to one car and you can adapt your mastery to any other.

Yep, that first week will be rough. When he was learning, my brother Mike once blocked the left-turn lane at the busiest intersection in town for three consecutive light cycles before Dad stopped asking "Are you sure it's in first gear?" and shifted our teal Pontiac Sunbird out of third for him. Just pay attention. By week two, Mike was a pro. Oh, the burnouts. Read More

 

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