You've probably heard this old chestnut: Real men drive stick. It's harder and therefore manlier to drive a manual transmission vehicle, whether it's a car, a truck, an SUV, or heavy machinery.
Even in today's era of automatics, hybrids, and Teslas, there's still a significant market left for driving a manual. It's actually kind of thrilling in a way, especially for those who are huge fans of vintage cars and their old-timey engines that don't have a million sensors attached to them.
With that said, here are some bad habits you should avoid when driving stick.
What Not to Do with a Manual Transmission Car
- Use Clutch Bite Point to Hold on an Incline: The tendency of former automatic drivers is to release the clutch until the bite point then feather the throttle to stay steady on an incline. Don't do this. This will wear down your clutch's friction material like rubbing a pencil eraser on sandpaper. There are some manual cars with the hill-old feature that will hold your car 2-3 seconds after you release the brake pedal.
- Engage the Incorrect Gear to Gain Speed: Unlike with automatics, you should go progressively through the gears to gain momentum. You don't want to mismatch your engine RPM with the exact wrong gear. You can save fuel by cruising at higher speeds with the top gear of your car. However, the gears should be pressed at certain speeds to keep your engine from suffering due to undue strain.
- Keep Your Car in Gear When You Are at a Stop Light: You can't keep your car in gear at the stoplight. Your car should be at neutral when the traffic is at a standstill or moving at molasses for the sake of lessening the wear and tear of your clutch. This isn't like an automatic that you can engage in gear even when in traffic. You need to develop this neutral gear habit in traffic to help take it easy on your clutch pad.
- Shift without Engaging the Clutch: Every time you push the clutch pedal, the clutch disengages the engine from the transmission. It uses a friction disc that transmits power from the engine to your transmission in order to shift gears. Shifting without engaging the clutch is a bad idea because it damages not only your manual transmission but also your engine itself. Develop the right habits and use your clutch every gear shift.
- Brake without Your Clutch: Don't brake without your clutch. Drivers of automatics should form the habit of using the clutch along with the brake in order to help with gear engagement. When you're braking, keep engaging the clutch until the end. Keeping the motor engages as long as possible when braking allows you to use the maximum natural resistance of the manual car, creating a shorter stopping distance and distributing wear-down between your brake pads and clutch pad.