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I apologize if this isn't the correct place to post this question, but it's the closest of the SE sites I could find.

I need to learn to drive a stick shift, but I don't have a car to practice on, nor know someone who has the time to teach me. I also don't want to pay to learn to drive stick shift. So, I'm going to treat it in an academic manner (it's the best thing I can think of). And when the time comes, I'll have to rely on what I've learned in theory.

Of course there are articles online and youtube videos, but I'm looking for something more comprehensive. I suppose a related question would also be: What other ways could I learn to drive stick without having a car to practice on?

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closed as off-topic by Gabriel Mongeon, Nick C, Rory Alsop, Bob Cross Oct 4 '13 at 13:26

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions on driving techniques are off-topic unless asked in regard to a specific mechanical problem. See: Are driving questions on-topic?" – Gabriel Mongeon, Nick C, Rory Alsop, Bob Cross
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My guess is that if you - somehow - practice for an hour you might get the hang of it. (And I assume that that is what you are after.) The efficiency of actually learning by doing overwhelms the efficiency of any theoretical/academic approach, virtually independent of your cognitive abilities. But that's just my opinion (and it doesn't answer your question). –  Glen The Udderboat Sep 19 '13 at 18:30
In many areas they have a rental franchise called Rent-A-Wreck. You'll be more likely to find a stick shift here than at the national chains. The daily rate is relatively low, in some places $10 a day. Have a friend that knows how to drive a stick to rent one for you. You don't want it to be to obvious you are learning how to drive a stick. Find a big empty parking lot and do lots of stops and starts. –  mikes Sep 19 '13 at 19:02
What mikes said, especially the big parking lot (doesn't have to be empty as long as it's not busy). That's how I learned and it just took a few hours to get good enough that I could take it on the road. –  R.. Sep 20 '13 at 2:25

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Go rent a car and practice. The only thing different is that you need to develop a feel for when the clutch is engaged sufficiently for you to give it gas.

"Academically" speaking, you need to give a little bit of gas, let go of the clutch slowly until the car just starts to move, and then slightly increase the gas while releasing the clutch smoothly. Think about handing a small child a cup of coffee to carry: you only let go completely once you're sure he has a solid grip on it. And you let go slowly, not all at once.

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I'll dump my experience with the "theory" portion below, but the only way to really get the hang of it is to be able to have a car to practice with.

I learned over the course of about 4 Saturdays:

Week 1) Go to a big, empty flat parking lot. Malls late at night work great. Practice letting out the clutch VERY slowly until you can feel the car start to move. Do this for about 30 minutes. You'll stall the car a LOT. It's ok.

Week 2) Begin practice with just the clutch again. It should come back to you quickly. Once you've figured out where the clutch "catches", bring the gas pedal into the equation. You'll start to depress the gas pedal at about the time that the clutch begins to catch. You don't have to push the gas pedal far, just a be consistent in pressure. For a while, you'll hear the engine revving unnecessarily until you figure out how much you need to depress it, and when to begin. Do this about 45 minutes or until you feel you've "got it".

Week 3) Assuming week 2 has you feeling better about timing, another week of practice pulling out with clutch + gas, only this time in city driving (read: lots of traffic lights.)

Week 4) The hill. Stopped the car, parked headed uphill. Make sure there's no cars anywhere else on the hill, and it'll take a lot of pressure off. Practice pulling out going uphill. It's a lot harder, because the amount of gas you'll provide is increased. Believe it or not, you'll probably end up giving WAY TOO MUCH gas than stalling it... Oh, and you don't drift backwards anywhere near as quickly as you'd expect.

One note... all clutches catch at different places, and have differences in how "soft" they are. They also tend to change over time, so for even more experience, try someone else's clutch after you've mastered yours.

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