7 Stick Shift Driving Tips For Rookies

For some people, learning how to drive a stick shift, or a manual car may seem very daunting. There is a clutch pedal and gas pedal and all these gears you have to learn how to control and that’s a lot. It is fine, do not fret, once you get used to it you won’t even notice that you are driving a stick shift. Here I have 7 stick shift driving tips for rookies that can help you speed up the learning process.

1. Practice a lot

Maybe you have heard this so many times you get bored of it but you should practice a lot before you start driving a stick shift in traffic. An empty parking lot would be an ideal place. 

Get familiar with your gear first by shifting gear without turn on the car, until you get the feeling of your gears in different positions. From there you start practicing driving, from low gears to high gears, how and when you use and coordinate the clutch and gas pedal, how to go up the hill, and everything. 

You will get the hang of it quite fast with sufficient practice and in just one or two months you will drive stick shift smoothly. Practice is important it prepares you should anything unexpected happen when you drive a manual in traffic.

2. Do not panic when your car stall or buck

This may happen a lot when you start learning how to drive (people who drive for a long time have this problem sometimes too). It is fine, keep your calm, panic will only delay your thought process and make you even more panic. Take a deep breath and access the situation, think of a way to fix it. 

If your car stall, that means you release the clutch too quickly, makes the rpm dropped too low and the engine stopped. Restart your car again by pushing the clutch all the way in, shift the gear back to neutral and restart the engine.

If your car bucks, maybe the revs are too low or too high, so you need to match the revs to stop it.


3. Ask someone to go with you

It is nervous at first learning to drive a stick shift. You can ask someone who good at it to accompany you. Having someone show you how to do it certainly is easier just read the theory and do it all by yourself. They can tell you what to do, what you doing wrong, and calm you down in case you panic. You can ask them to drive for you to observe. Hiring a driving instructor is fine, too, if that makes you more reassured.

4. Keep your hands on the wheel

Always keep your hands on the steering wheel while driving. Doing other things that are not driving while driving is dangerous, you may lose control and cause an accident. If there is anything you have to do, pull over first, complete it, and continue your drive. However, do not rest your hand on the gearstick constantly, it is not good and may damage the transmission system.

learning to drive stick shift
Photo by James Lewis on Unsplash

5. Do not ride the clutch

Riding the clutch means you keep resting your foot on the clutch pedal or push down the clutch instead of shifting back to neutral when waiting for red lights. This is a bad habit of new learners because riding the clutch will wear out the clutch disk or the throw bearing much faster than it should. Lift your foot off the clutch pedal after shifting, and shift to neutral when waiting, always remember that.


6. Use hand brake on a hill

For rookies, a hill start is scary. You absolutely do not want your car to roll back, especially when there is another car or someone behind you. Use your handbrake to stop it from rolling, start the car, and release it when it is safe to move. Do not just rely on the brake alone, it will wear the brake out quickly.

7. Relax and have fun

If you take learning to drive stick shift as something you must do or you have to do it perfectly like doing a test, it will put a lot of pressure on you. Just relax, this is not something to be nervous about, think of it like playing a game, coordinate the parts as you do with a game controller. Keep your mind open and relaxing will make the process of learning much easier and faster. 


Driving a manual means there is much more thing you have to pay attention to than driving an automatic. Many people choose to drive stick shifts are because it is fun, they feel awesome whenever they change gears smoothly and vibe it out, which makes them feel like a racer. Be like that, too, just enjoy your ride! Visit Driving Tips for more useful tips and information for a smooth drive.