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Teaching a teen to drive a stick shift...
Old 04-06-2011, 04:53 PM   #1
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Teaching a teen to drive a stick shift...

now I need someone to hold me! It gets better right? RIGHT?!?!?

Well that was an interesting forty five minutes to say the least. My teen daughter has had her driving lessons and drives our truck fairly well, but it is an automatic. She has 4 months to go before she can get her actual drivers license but she can drive with the wife and I. Overall I think she is doing well.

So.....Since it is Spring Break here, I thought I would take her to an empty parking lot and try and teach her to drive a stick shift. I think that is something everyone should know how to do. I have a little 1994 Miata that is really a garage queen. 39,000 miles is all it has on it, but it is easy to drive and you can even start out in 2nd or 3rd gear if you forget to shift to first. Nothing like pressure to teach you right.

She is getting it, but I think I was cool and calm and collected...I think! Only a minor case of whiplash! I am sure I will be fine by morning! The kid is upstairs looking up driving techniques and online lessons on driving a clutch.

Anyone here have a good lesson? Me and my neck would appreciate it.

Or feel free to share your first driving a clutch story. I learned the hard way, I purchased a car from a credit union for a great price. I got it and then sort of realized it was NOT an automatic. I had sort of driven a car with a clutch a couple times but wasn't too good at it. But I had to get that car home, and so I drove it, poorly at first but I got the hang of it pretty fast in rush hour traffic!
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:06 PM   #2
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I taught my daughter to drive a stick shift about 10 years ago. She was just learning to drive and we had a conversion van which was automatic and a Mazda which was stick.

We started out going to the large parking lot at the public library on Sunday morning before it opened at noon. I made the mistake of taking my coffee with a lid on it the first time.

We then proceeded to go out on some of the main streets on Sunday morning where the traffic was light. You have to watch out for those churches letting out.

She eventually took the car to college.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:08 PM   #3
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In my experience, the big trouble is that the non-stick driver pops their foot off of the clutch as soon as the car starts to move. It seems to be a natural tendency. It is also aggravated by the mass effect of the left foot, that is, as the car suddenly moves forward, the mass of the foot tends to stay still, the car moves forward, out from under the foot, which means the clutch is let out even faster, which moves the car faster forward...

Try practicing letting out the clutch in reverse, as there the mass effect tends to push IN the clutch instead.

Or you could just shout "a clutch is an ANALOG device, NOT A DIGITAL device!"
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:18 PM   #4
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In the late sixties I stole the parent's car to show my little sister how to drive; instructing from the height of my lofty proficiency. As in I could drive our Ford 9N tractor, the two cylinder Poppin' Johnny Deere, a go cart, and had stolen the car before on several occasions to drift it around on the gravel roads. After some time we came to the highway, which the road crossed at a 90 degree angle.

She made it part way across before stalling out. She was embarrassed and laughing, I was looking at the traffic coming toward my door and urging her to please start the car and proceed with all deliberate haste. That's my story anyway. The screaming like a little girl noises were probably from the wind or something. She did motivate before we died.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:21 PM   #5
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When my son was learning to drive, we had a Jeep Sahara that was a standard transmission. My husband and I tried to teach him to drive it, but he never got the hang of it. He was not really interested I think. I kept telling him to follow my method: when in doubt, press the clutch in. Also 10 mph corresponds to first gear, 20 miles--second gear, etc. If the engine is straining, shift to the next higher gear, if it is bucking, go lower. I was taught to drive a stick by my high school boyfriend. He had a Vega, and I was bound and determined to learn in order to wipe the condescending smirk off his face.
My husband always blamed me for burning out the clutch on his Acura Legend, but I rarely drove it if the truth be told. He did it, driving on the LIE and the BQE everyday. It just happened to receive the coup de grace while I was in the driver's seat (unfortunately).
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:22 PM   #6
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1) I reminded my kids (taught both, daughter and son) that just because it's a stick shift doesn't mean you're not driving. So one still needs to watch the road. And, the brake works the same way and stopping the car remains the most important safety tip.
2) If the car starts to buck, just depress the clutch.
3) EASY...Lift the clutch pedal very slowly until you feel the gear engage and the car is moving smoothly.
My son took to it easily. It took my daughter a bit longer.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by FreeAtLast View Post
I taught my daughter to drive a stick shift about 10 years ago. She was just learning to drive and we had a conversion van which was automatic and a Mazda which was stick.

We started out going to the large parking lot at the public library on Sunday morning before it opened at noon. I made the mistake of taking my coffee with a lid on it the first time.

We then proceeded to go out on some of the main streets on Sunday morning where the traffic was light. You have to watch out for those churches letting out.

She eventually took the car to college.

Drinking coffee while teaching your kid to drive a stick? You're brave

Hakuna - It will get better...as soon as you aren't in the car with her. They all figure it out eventually. I just kept sitting there telling DD "take your time, honey, you'll get it" all the while wanting to tear my hair out and scream at her.

But when the time came she needed to the truck, she was amazingly capable. Only left one skid mark on the road.....
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:31 PM   #8
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I got my driver's license on my 16th birthday, using a friend's car (which was an automatic) for the test. When I got back home, my dad flipped me the car keys to his 1968 Jeep CJ-5 with 3 speed manual transmission and told me I could take it for a spin - alone. I stalled about 20 times just trying to get out of the driveway and again at the first stop sign. Then, I got stuck in a traffic jam. By the time I got back home about two hours later, I could drive a stick shift.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:38 PM   #9
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Click and Clack, the Car Talk guys, have you covered:

LEARNING TO DRIVE STICK
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:45 PM   #10
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Click and Clack, the Car Talk guys, have you covered:

LEARNING TO DRIVE STICK
Click and Clack are hysterical! I listen to them every once in awhile on the radio. I never thought to check to see if they had a website...duh. Thanks.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:46 PM   #11
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I got my manual initiation sitting in the passenger seat of a 72 super beetle. My brother left me sitting in front of a Sears store with the blinkers on blocking a lane of traffic. A police car pulled up and told me to move the car. Oh what fun that was, I finally figured it out, car died 3-4 times making it around the block.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:52 PM   #12
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The car salesman showed me how to drive the VW Bug he sold me (I was 21)
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:25 PM   #13
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When my gal was a GM service manager she had a new GM car offered to her as a management perk. I was having none of that - I'd provide for my woman. Since I had a VW repair shop what I provided was a '61 bug with cloth slider sunroof, tasteful lowering, Porsche brakes, dual carbs on short intakes sitting on big valve dual port heads and a 1776cc engine I assembled with a bit of extra attention. Mated it to new clutch pressure plate and disc. Car did quite nicely; I felt good about it.

Only thing was it kept exploding the clutch discs, even after going to solids. For some reason they just kept getting destroyed - couldn't keep a clutch in it for a year before it was lunched. Turns out my gal liked her car also and even though it wasn't a big bad car she compensated by driving the !#%*! out of it. Just freaking hammered the clutch if she wanted to show it off a bit. Proud of that girl!
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:32 PM   #14
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I learned to drive on a 3-speed on the column Renault R-16. My dad swore (a blue streak) that I would never ever get my driver's license the first time we went out, but I passed first time I took the test.

I wanted both kids to learn how to drive a stick, so took Dad's Ford Focus 5-speed RV tow-behind car off his hands when he sold the RV. Son thought it was useless until he went off to summer camp as a junior counselor and got to drive the camp truck because he was the only counselor who could drive a stick.

One tip I read somewhere that really helped: during parking lot practice, have them get the car to move forward (in 1st gear) WITHOUT TOUCHING THE GAS (only touch the accelerator AFTER the car was moving smoothly and the clutch was fully released). I thought this would be impossible, but it actually really helped them get the feel of the clutch.

Good luck!!!!
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:37 PM   #15
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When DH was just a BF he used to take me out in his father's Fiat 850 which was a stickshift. It was an adorable red 2 seater that was his father's mid-life crisis car. I got pretty good at driving it although I still had to concentrate on making it all work at the same time.

It was not the same as owning a stickshift car! For my 21st birthday my dad bought me a used VW. BF drove it up to a large empty parking lot and gave me a quick refresher course. Then he got out and I drove it around that parking lot for about another 20 minutes until I knew for sure that I could drive MY CAR. Knowing it was mine and that I had to be able to do it alone made the difference.

One tip he gave me was that the clutch is operated alternate from the gas. When the clutch goes up, the gas pedal goes down and when the clutch goes down the gas pedal goes up.

It's different in every car and it's something you have to learn by feel and sound. I learned to love driving a stickshift.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:38 PM   #16
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One tip I read somewhere that really helped: during parking lot practice, have them get the car to move forward (in 1st gear) WITHOUT TOUCHING THE GAS (only touch the accelerator AFTER the car was moving smoothly and the clutch was fully released). I thought this would be impossible, but it actually really helped them get the feel of the clutch.

Good luck!!!!
thanks--that actually is what I did. We were in a parking lot that had a very slight slope to it, so I had her just let the car move forward and slowly let out the clutch and then press the accelerator. I would say she is about 80% there, still a little lurching but overall I think she has the concept down. She loves to go to second and third gear (Dad--that is so easy!--yeah it is the same concept for first gear sweetie!) She will get it, she is a smart girl and I know it will just take a few trips. First off I have to admit to myself I am impressed with how calm I have been. I honestly didn't think I had it in me! The beer I am having now seems to be doing wonders for my nerves too.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:39 PM   #17
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The first time I was at the steering wheel of an auto was when I was 14, and the car was a 1956 Opel with manual stick shift. No, I did not steal a drive, and in fact had my parents and siblings in the car. The drive was only for 1/2 mile on a country dirt road. I did fairly well, I thought, and wanted to go on to the highway, but my parents cried out in terror and I had to stop.

No training beforehand! My father thought he would indulge me for a short drive against my mother's wish.

Later, in my teen, hopped into a stick-shift VW Beetle and drove off without any problem.

For most people, I think it is easier to know how to steer the car first before having to worry about the clutch. I would think it is better for the OP's daughter to get some driving experience and her license first before fooling around with the clutch.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:56 PM   #18
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After trying a few times, my brother taught me to edge forward in first, and experiment with the clutch to get the feel for when it would buck and stall and when it didn't. Then he had me add hitting the gas, and then shifting gears.

I tried teaching my kid on a Miata. First time, she pulled out smoothly. I thought I had a savant. She did pretty well in a parking lot, then I had her stop on a slight hill. She just couldn't get it, and lost all confidence and patience. Couldn't get her to try it again. We figure she could drive one in an emergency.
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:01 PM   #19
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For most people, I think it is easier to know how to steer the car first before having to worry about the clutch. I would think it is better for the OP's daughter to get some driving experience and her license first before fooling around with the clutch.
Actually she got her learners on her 15th Birthday and took a 6 week driving course and has been driving now about 6-7 months. But they have all been in automatics. Her driving classes were all in automatic Beetles and she has been driving home from school in our truck which is automatic (I pick her up after school) about 2-3 days a week. So I think she has that part down actually fairly well.

The car I plan on getting her is an automatic but I just think that driving a car with a clutch is an important skill for anyone to have. I have held off because I agree there is enough going on without adding the clutch into the mix, but I think the time is right...I think.
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:02 PM   #20
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In 1976, after a couple of beers, my boyfriend took me out on a gravel road and....taught me how to drive a stick shift.
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