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5 things you shouldn't do when driving a manual

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Updated 11 Oct 2019

Jason Unrau

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Driving a car with a manual transmission can be more efficient than driving an automatic, and it’s infinitely more fun.

But whether you’re out blazing up the bitumen or learning to drive stick, it’s all too easy to fall into bad habits. It doesn’t matter if they’re damaging, less efficient, or just bad manners, these are five things you should avoid when driving a manual.

Resting your foot on the clutch pedal

Stop and go driving can make it seem like your foot is always on the clutch pedal.

That’s not the case on the highway, though.

If you’re not in the process of shifting gears up or down, placing your foot on the clutch pedal could be wearing out the friction material prematurely.

If you’re resting weight on the clutch pedal, it may be enough to let the clutch disc slip against the flywheel.

That can accelerate the wear on your clutch, potentially by tens out thousands of kilometres, and taking money out of your pocket.

Using the clutch to hold steady on an incline

It’s possible to hold your car at a standstill when you’re on an incline, and it’s a skill every manual driver should have.

But it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Holding the clutch engaged partly for any length of time can increase heat and friction, wearing out your clutch faster and potentially damaging your flywheel.

Just use the brake pedal and pull the transmission out of gear.

Resting your hand on the shift knob

It’s probably the most common habit for manual-transmission drivers – resting your hand on the cue ball all the time.

You’re unlikely to pull the transmission out of gear accidentally, nor will it cause any damage.

The problem here is that you should have your hands on the steering wheel instead.

No matter how good a driver you think you are, you can manoeuvre better with two hands on the steering wheel.

Accelerating in the wrong gear

From learner to experienced driver, everyone who’s driven a stick shift knows what it feels like to drive in the wrong gear.

Too low of a gear and the engine bogs and stutters.

Too high and the engine revs almost out of control.

It happens by accident, but if you’re doing it because you’re not inclined to shift so often, it’s a different story.

It can be dangerous if you stall or suddenly decelerate, making drivers behind you react suddenly.

It’s cute and all to hold your Sheila’s hand, but you can let it go for a second to shift.

Braking without the clutch

By simply releasing the accelerator pedal, you can slow your car down with just the clutch.

That’s how you can adjust your speed by a few klicks easily.

But if you have to slow down a lot or if you’re stopping, it’s a strategy that’s no bueno.

It doesn’t take more than a few seconds before your RPMs are too low for the gear.

To slow down more than a few kilometres per hour, press the clutch and downshift, or pull the stick out of gear and hit the brakes.

If you find you need your manual transmission or clutch inspected or repaired, book in with an AutoGuru mechanic, they will help you out.

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Written By

Jason Unrau

Jason is a Canadian automotive content writer with a background in the auto service industry, but he’s been hooked on cars and mechanics since childhood.

One of his first cars was an ’80 Mazda RX-7 that’s sorely missed to this day. A ’68 Ford Torino GT, a ’66 Ford Country Squire Woodie station wagon, and a ’96 Suzuki GSX-R 750 have spent time in his fleet of cars, bikes, and trucks over the past two decades.

Jason’s pride and joy is under construction – a turbocharged ’88 Mazda RX-7 convertible. Also on his resume is CASCAR official certification.