Driving a stick shift vehicle can be scary for many people, regardless of their age. Although many drivers only know how to operate an automatic car and think they have no reason to learn otherwise, it’s still a very good idea to learn how to drive a stick shift before heading out on a road trip—especially if that trip will be in Europe!
Getting your hands on a car with a manual transmission might be tricky, but they’re not as uncommon as you’d think. Why not find a family member or friend who has a stick shift? Once you know how to do it, it becomes easier over time.
There are many times that a stick shift is your only option. If you’ve never operated a manual vehicle, here are six reasons why it's important to learn how to drive a stick shift, also known as a manual transmission.
1. More Control Of Your Vehicle
Driving a stick shift gives you better control of your car. For example, unlike automatic vehicles, you have more freedom to determine your engine’s speed. Consider that transmissions in automatic vehicles are pre-programmed and are determined by factors such as traffic and road conditions.
2. It Can Save You Money
As a result of being in more control of your car, most manuals have better gas mileage. If you’re renting a stick shift, you won't have to pay as much for gas.
3. Easier on Brakes
Because driving a manual transmission gives you more control over your car’s engine, driving is gentler on car brakes. This is because the process of downshifting lets you slow your vehicle, which saves your brakes from wear.
4. It’s Safer
If you’re addicted to texting, then learn to drive a manual car, as it’s virtually impossible to text and drive at the same time! Driving a stick shift adds a whole new layer of discipline to your driving. What’s more, teach your teens how to drive a manual vehicle so that they won't be able to text while driving.
5. Uninviting To Criminals
Besides being safer, manual vehicles are less attractive to thieves. Thus, it’s less probable that your car will be stolen. This is especially important when you’re renting a car for your trip to Europe, as there’s an added layer of responsibility on you to keep the vehicle safe. Most car bandits look for cars that are the easiest to drive, making stick shifts less attractive to steal.
6. More Choices in Vehicles for International Driving
When you travel outside of the United States, there are typically more manual than automatic vehicles. Therefore, when you travel abroad, you won’t have to worry about whether there’s a car that’s available that you’re able to drive.
Stick Shift 101
- A stick shift has one to five gears, in addition to a reverse (R) gear.
- There are three pedals. The left pedal is the clutch; the middle pedal is the brake; and the one on the right is the gas pedal.
- Most people use their left leg to operate the clutch, while using the right leg to operate the gas, as well as the brake.
- To drive your car, you hold down the clutch and shift into 1st gear, easing the clutch until your vehicle begins moving.
- Once the car starts to move, press down the gas pedal while releasing the clutch.
- Changing gears involves letting go of the gas pedal and pressing the clutch.
- To shift to the next gear, either up or down, release the clutch and then press the gas pedal again.
- Stopping entails shifting down until your car slows down enough to put you into first gear.
- The final step in stopping your car involves using the left foot to press the clutch and then slowly pressing your break with the right foot.
Tips for Learning to Drive a Manual Vehicle
- Become familiar with the car’s controls. Practice driving with the vehicle off. This is a good way to familiarize yourself with the clutch. While pretending to drive, practice accelerating and putting your car in first gear, second, third, fourth and fifth gear.
- When you’re ready to venture out of your driveway, take someone who knows how to drive a stick shift with you.
- Begin driving on a flat area. Later, you can graduate to a hillier ground.
Once you’ve mastered a stick shift, you’ll wonder why you were so hesitant to learn this skill. In fact, you’ll probably even discover that driving a stick shift is even more fun than an automatic.
You’ll be especially grateful for knowing how to drive a stick shift if you’re an international traveler. At Auto France, we have several Peugeot models that you can rent that have manual transmissions. This opens up a whole new set of options for you when it comes to selecting a vehicle for your next trip to Europe!
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