How to Drive a Vehicle with a Stick Shift

Driving a Manual Transmission Car in San Diego, CA

Even though sales of manual transmission vehicles have sharply decreased in the United States over the last few years, the ability to drive a stick shift car is something that still attracts American drivers, particularly those who think driving should be a thoroughly dynamic and fun experience. If you have driven automatic vehicles all your life, you can learn to operate stick shift transmissions in just two or three lessons. The staff at American Tri-Star, a trusted provider of auto insurance in San Diego, offers some recommendations to get the most out of a manual transmission vehicle.

Learn to Read the Tachometer

Most stick shift drivers become proficient by monitoring the tachometer gauge on the dashboard, which displays the revolutions per minute of the engine. In some cases, it may feature a light that indicates when you should shift to the next highest gear for maximum fuel efficiency. If your car does not have this indicator, you should shift at 3,000 RPM under normal driving conditions. For more spirited driving, you can let the engine reach a higher RPM level. If your car is not equipped with an RPM gauge, you can shift from first to second once you reach 15 miles per hour and in 15 to 20 mph increments for the rest of the gears.

Master the Art of Downshifting

Working your way down the gears can help you better understand your car’s physics while putting less strain on your brakes. Downshifting requires a slower release of the clutch pedal for smoother engagement, but you should only downshift to first gear when going up steep hills or in off-road driving conditions.

Be Careful When in Reverse

An interesting aspect of manual transmissions is that they are considerably faster in reverse when compared to first gear. Therefore, you should use lighter footwork on the gas pedal while backing up. Even experienced stick shift drivers are sometimes surprised by how fast their vehicles can travel in reverse.

Learn to Shift Based on the Car’s Reaction

Once you get the feel of a car’s manual transmission and power train, you will no longer need to look at your dashboard to know when to shift. The idea is to get used to the way the car reacts when you engage the clutch at certain speeds. You should ideally ease on the gas pedal and step firmly on the clutch when you hear the engine revving at a certain level. Popping the clutch is unnecessary. Even street racers and drifters avoid aggressive clutch play because this will eventually require taking the car to the shop.

Whether you drive a stick shift or automatic, you need adequate auto insurance. For drivers in San Diego, car insurance quotes are readily available from American Tri-Star. Call one of our friendly agents today at 619-272-2100.