Many people choose to drive manual transmission vehicles for their superior fuel efficiency. They’re simpler to maintain than vehicles with automatic transmissions and provide complete control over gear shifting. But mastering the gear shift and clutch takes some effort, so here are a few do's and don’ts to keep in mind.


Familiarize yourself.

Locate each gear and learn how the shifter moves. Feel the weight of the clutch pedal under your foot. You should be familiar with these components to feel more confident before driving. To start, press on the clutch, place the gearshift in neutral, and fire up the car.

Use both feet.

This part of driving may take some getting used to if you’ve only ever used your right foot. You’ll still use it to accelerate and stop the vehicle, but the left foot will make clutch adjustments to shift gears. Take some time to practice in an empty parking lot and learn this habit.

Learn when to shift gears.

manual transmission

When you release the clutch and have your foot on the accelerator, you’re driving in first gear. As you build speed, you’ll need to shift into second gear at around 15 mph. You can shift to third at 45 mph and fourth by about 65 mph. 

Most experienced drivers learn to shift gears by listening for telltale engine sounds. For example, it whines when the gear is too low and rumbles when it’s time to shift down.


Leave your foot on the clutch.

Riding the clutch can force its bearing to contact the metal clutch cover, causing friction that leads to premature wear and eventual failure. That, in turn, can negatively impact fuel economy. Always pull your foot away after shifting gears.

Coast to a stop.

Don’t put the car in neutral and wait for it to stop. Doing so can be risky if there’s an obstacle that requires you to quickly get back into gear. Instead, shift down until the vehicle comes to a natural stop.

Release the clutch prematurely.

Early release causes the vehicle to lurch forward, putting unnecessary strain on the engine and transmission. The clutch also wears down; it may develop a burning smell or take on a soft, spongy feel and will require repairs. 


If you need a reliable technician to repair your manual transmission, trust in the qualified team at Northgate Transmissions. Proudly serving drivers throughout Cincinnati, OH, for more than 30 years, the locally owned and operated company works on both foreign and domestic models. Visit the ASE®-certified professionals online for more information on their capabilities, or call (513) 385-4400 to schedule an appointment.