5 things to remember when driving a manual


If you’re a true automotive fan, then you’re no stranger to the magnetic power of a manual transmission.  We all know it’s more efficient, and the thrill-factor far exceeds anything on offer in the world of automatic transmission vehicles.

But where manual transmissions are, bad habits abound.  In a country where automatic vehicles vastly outnumber manuals, we thought it was time to highlight our top five things to avoid when you’re driving a manual.

Don’t rest your foot on the clutch pedal
When you’re sitting in traffic, constant stops and starts can make it seem like your foot is always on the clutch pedal.  But that’s not always the case on New Zealand’s highways and motorways.

If you’re not shifting gears up or down, having your foot on the clutch could actually prematurely wear out the friction material.  If you’re resting a bit more weight on the clutch pedal, you could let the clutch disc slip against the flywheel. 

Why’s this important?  Because by putting that extra wear on your clutch, you’re bringing forward the need to replace it by potentially tens of thousands of kilometers, i.e. a lot sooner than you’d usually expect to, and that always comes at a cost.

Avoid using the clutch to hold steady on an incline

If you’re sitting on an incline, we recommend learning to hold your car at a standstill with the clutch.  It’s essential for any manual driver.  But, it’s not something we should be doing all the time.  If you’re engaging the clutch for any measure of time, it creates heat and friction and will wear out faster, while damaging your flywheel.  We recommend using the trusty brake to pull the transmission out of gear!

It’s hard not to be tempted, but do try to keep your hand from resting on that cue ball all the time.  Sure, it looks cool, and it’s also unlikely that you’ll unintentionally change gears, but in a manual (as with any car), you should really have two hands on the wheel.  Don’t leave your manoeuvres and corners to chance!  This ain’t a movie, kid.

Don’t accelerate in the wrong gear!
It’s happened to the best of us, and absolutely anyone who’s driven a stick shift vehicle knows what it’s like accelerating in the wrong gear.  Too low?  Stop, start, splutter, stutter!  Too high?  The vroom levels are out of this world. 

It can happen by accident, but it can also happen when you’re not changing gears often, and that’s a different story altogether.  Stalling or suddenly stopping can be extremely dangerous, causing drivers behind you to react suddenly.  Please, take a moment to shift gears!

Avoid braking without the clutch
It is possible to slow right down by just using the clutch pedal. It’s actually the easiest way to adjust your speed by a few clicks. However, bear in mind that if you need to dramatically reduce your speed or stop, this ain’t gonna work. In just a few seconds, you’ll find your RPMs are too low for the gear. ouch.

To slow down more than a few km per hour, hit the clutch and downshift, or simply pull the stick out of gear and hit the brakes.

If you need your manual transmission or clutch inspected or repaired, book a service through My Auto Shop and ensure your vehicle is in the best, safest condition.