Driving a car with a manual transmission is an important skill that should be familiar to all drivers. Not only does it further the driverâ€™s knowledge and control of the car, but many find it very enjoyable as it strengthens the bond between car and driver. The driver is in control of the gears and the power output of the car at all times. Additionally, manual transmissions have been known to be much more reliable than automatic transmissions, the reason being that their design is much less complex. Manual transmissions can also achieve better fuel economy numbers than automatic transmissions.
The first thing to do when learning to drive a car with a manual transmission is to take note of how it is different from a car with an automatic transmission. The first thing you should notice is that there are three pedals instead of two. The pedal on the far right is the gas pedal. The brake pedal is in the middle, and the new pedal on the far left is called the clutch. The second thing you will notice is the gear shifter. Instead of park, drive, and reverse it has gears one through five (or six) and reverse. Before attempting to drive the car, it is very important to understand how everything works.
As you may know, the engine is bolted to the transmission (or transaxle in a front wheel drive car) and the transmission is responsible for transmitting the engineâ€™s power to the wheels through the use of different gear ratios. A gear ratio refers to the size of the drive gear compared to the size of the gear selected by the driver in the transmission. The clutch pedal that was referred to earlier controls a mechanism called the clutch. The clutch is quite simply a plate between the engine and transmission that moves back and forth, engaging and disengaging the transmission from the engineâ€™s flywheel. Depressing the clutch pedal disengages the two components, allowing the driver to shift gears without damaging the transmission.
Now it’s time to start the car. To do this, depress both the brake and the clutch pedal and turn the key. Once the car is started, keep the clutch and the brake depressed and select first gear with the gear shifter. It is a good idea to become familiar moving the gear shifter from gear to gear before driving. Getting the car moving from a stop is the most difficult part of using a manual transmission. This must be done in first gear because first gear in your transmission is significantly larger than the drive gear. This means that the drive gear (or engine) will spin at a much higher speed than the gear in the transmission (which transfers that motion to the wheels). This allows the car to move from a stop without using much engine power. However, it is easier said than done.
Stalling is a term you will undoubtedly become familiar with when learning to drive a car with a manual transmission. Stalling occurs when the driver does not provide the engine with enough power to turn the wheels when engaging the clutch. This causes the engine to stop running. Keep in mind that stalling does not hurt the car, so donâ€™t lose confidence if it happens often. To avoid stalling, the driver has to give the engine a little extra power while engaging the clutch so the engine is able to move the car. To do this, very lightly depress the gas pedal as you pull the clutch pedal out. Another way to get the hang of it is to use the gas pedal to keep the engine RPM (revolutions per minute) around one or two thousand and then pull the clutch out. This way will likely cause the car to jerk, but it will help the driver to get a feel for how to move the car without stalling.
Now that you have had some practice moving the car from a stop, it’s time to take it for a drive. Keep the car in first gear until you reach a speed of fifteen to twenty miles per hour. Next, depress the clutch pedal and select second gear with the shifter. Use the gas pedal when pulling the clutch pedal out to ensure a smooth shift. This is especially important when shifting down from a higher gear. Practice and become comfortable with shifting through and driving in all gears of the transmission. When driving normally, it is a good idea to shift to a higher gear when the engine speed reaches about 3000 RPM. That said, the driver should shift to a lower gear if the engine speed drops below 1500 RPM to avoid stalling. An important thing to know is that an engineâ€™s power band, or the speed at which the engine produces the most power, is between 3000 RPM and the engineâ€™s redline (maximum safe operating speed). That being said, if the need to accelerate quickly or pass another car arises, the driver can shift to a lower gear to raise the engineâ€™s RPMâ€™s which will transfer more usable power to the wheels.
Perfecting the art of driving a manual transmission takes many years of practice. There are many fine points and techniques that a driver can master over time. However, whether your company car has a manual transmission or youâ€™re an aspiring race car driver, driving a manual transmission is a valuable skill to have.
This article was supplied by Erich Shuman from Constant Content.