We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Best Way to Learn How to Drive with a Manual Transmission?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Learning how to drive with a manual transmission is a valuable skill to have, even in a world filled with automatics. This type of transmission is still popular in sports cars and off-road vehicles, such as tractors or jeeps. Parents looking for a dependable first car for their children may find a bargain-priced five-speed economy car from a few decades ago. Knowing how to drive a manual car can also prove useful when driving other people's vehicles. It pays to learn all of the different driving systems in case of emergencies.

One way to learn the details of a manual transmission is through an approved driver education course. Many high schools offer classes with both simulator and real road practice, although some do not emphasize manual techniques. If the school's class does not offer stick-shift training, it may fall on parents to demonstrate. Private driving schools may offer training if the student specifically requests it. A standard shift vehicle may be available at the school or the student may have to obtain one.

Many drivers in training will practice their skills in an empty parking lot or other private property with minimal distractions. This is not always the optimal environment to learn manual techniques, however. Standard shift cars need a significant amount of linear space in order to go through all of the gears. A parking lot is still a great place to practice parking, reversing, and braking, but a student needs to experience the feel of a manual transmission as the motor reaches roadway speeds.

Unlike learning to drive an automatic drive, beginning students may need to sit in the passenger seat and observe an experienced driver at first. The instructor should demonstrate the proper way to depress the clutch, position the gear shift lever and coordinate the gas pedal. As each gear reaches maximum torque, the instructor should tell the student how to listen for a distinctive engine noise. This sound should indicate the need to shift to a higher gear or jump back to a lower one. Again, the balance between gear shift, clutch, and accelerator should be demonstrated. At this point, braking and downshifting back to first gear should also be demonstrated.

Learning to drive a manual transmission is usually a matter of trial-and-error until the student learns the natural rhythm of a standard shift car. For this reason, it may be best to practice with an older but mechanically-sound vehicle, not an expensive sports car. Finding third gear while simultaneously releasing the clutch and depressing the accelerator is not easy for many drivers, so one should expect some grinding of the clutch and stutter stopping. Eventually, most drivers do learn the intricacies, even if they prefer the relative ease of an automatic.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WikiMotors, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By clippers — On Oct 23, 2012

I have had trouble finding a driver's ed school that can teach me to drive a stick. Is it common for this to be so rare? I know that the manual transmission is not as popular as it once was, but people still need to learn how to drive them, right?

By nextcorrea — On Oct 22, 2012

Time and patience, time and patience. I wish that there was an easier way, but working at it is the only way to get good at driving a stick. Make sure you have a good teacher and practice on a car that has a decent clutch.

By anon105443 — On Aug 20, 2010

I've never had a problem with hills. Just give it extra gas. I don't roll back at all.

By anon40596 — On Aug 09, 2009

I had to learn driving a manual transmission before I got my license. Although I was always afraid of the hills. so what I did was avoid them. Instead of taking the exit that had the hill with a stop light, I took a different route that I knew had no hills or was down sloped.

By anon40273 — On Aug 07, 2009

When I taught my kids how to drive a stick, I first had them make all their seat adjustments until they were comfortable with their position -- then I had them back up a notch or so. This forced them to learn to flex their ankle when pushing the clutch. If you sit too close, you tend to use your upper thigh muscles which gives you much less control and leads to jerky starts.

I prefer manual transmissions because I feel more in control of the vehicle, but for me their biggest drawback is that in extended bumper-to-bumper traffic your clutch-leg can get extremely tired (nothing like a leg cramp in the middle of an LA freeway).

Manual transmissions are also generally cheaper and easier to repair than an automatic. Note: it's cheaper to replace brake pads than clutches so don't make downshifting your primary means of reducing speed.

BTW - if you're going up a hill, use your emergency brake to hold your stopped position. When starting off, try to smoothly engage the clutch and release the brake as you start to move. You might stall a few times before you get it right, but at least you won't roll back into someone else. This is admittedly easier when the brake release is between the front seats and not below the instrument panel but it is still doable.

By somerset — On Jan 27, 2008

Probably it is better to start with manual transmission and later drive automatic. Manual transmission is a little more difficult to learn, but once you get it it is yours. However, no matter how long I drove manually, having to stop at a red light in the middle of a hill always made me nervous. Nothing ever happened, but just the same, driving in hilly areas was just a bit nerve racking. Now I drive only automatic, it is a breeze, you do feel though like you have better control of the vehicle when driving with a stick shift.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WikiMotors, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
Learn more
WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.