How to Drive a Standard Car

This instruction manual explains how to drive a standard transmission automobile. Once you've read the facts, do some learning behind the clutch and stick shift in your car.

How to Drive a Standard Car
The two keys to successfully driving a standard transmission car are confidence and patience. This applies to the instructor as well as the student. Driving a standard transmission, while not rocket science, requires concentration and determination that can easily be compromised by distraction and frustration. Knowing how to drive a vehicle with automatic transmission will help eliminate the fundamental fear of driving, but is not necessary to learn to drive a stick shift.
Step 1
Locate a large, flat training area to practice. The area should be void of traffic, obstacles and pedestrians. Learning how to drive a standard transmission car in traffic, no matter how light, will undoubtedly present a challenge to the training driver at some point that can create tension and nervousness not conducive to the lesson.
Step 2
Position yourself in the driver's seat and your instructor in the passenger seat. No other person should be in the car except you and the trainer. Other people will become distractions.
Step 3
Apply the parking brake of the vehicle and then depress the clutch. Before starting the vehicle, work the stick shift through all the gears, including reverse to familiarize yourself with them. For the initial training session on a standard vehicle, you do not need to shift higher than second gear, but knowing where all the gears are--especially neutral, first, second and reverse--will help build your confidence.
Step 4
Place the stick shift in neutral and then depress the clutch (if you've released it) while turning the ignition key to start the engine. With the parking brake still applied, release the clutch pedal. This will ensure the vehicle is in neutral. If it is not, the vehicle will jump suddenly and the parking brake will hold the vehicle in gear and then choke the engine.
Step 5
Place your right foot on the brake pedal and release the parking brake. Depress the clutch again and move the stick shift to first gear. The hardest part of learning a car's specific friction point of activating the clutch is knowing how soon and how much acceleration is needed to be applied, while gently releasing the clutch. Both feet have to work simultaneously. While releasing the clutch slowly with your left foot, remove your right foot from the brake pedal. The friction point in every standard vehicle will be different so do not become frustrated if you buck and stall the first couple of times. With practice, the right foot will be able to move from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal and apply enough gas to move the vehicle without bucking or jerking the vehicle. This step should be practiced several times until another gear is considered.
Step 6
Repeat step 5 but in the reverse gear. A standard transmission car only has one reverse speed, so learning how to locate and discover the friction point of the vehicle in reverse is as important as moving it forward in first gear. Once steps 5 and 6 can be accomplished without bucking, jerking or stalling the vehicle, you'll be ready to up-shift to higher forward gears.
Step 7
Start with step 5 again to move the vehicle, smoothly in first gear and apply enough gas to monitor the RPMs (revolutions per minute) of the engine. Most cars cruise in the selected gears between 2,000 and 3,000 RPMs. Once they go below or above, switching the gear is required in a standard transmission. Release the clutch while moving your right foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator and lightly apply pressure to move the vehicle forward. Continue to apply pressure to the accelerator until 3,000 RPMs is displayed on the tachometer and then depress the clutch and engage the stick-shift from first to second gear and then release the clutch. Cruise in second gear until the tachometer has achieved 3000 RPMs and depress the clutch and slowly stop the car. This step should be practiced until the transfer from first to second gear and starting and stopping again have been achieved without the car bucking or stalling.
Step 8
Continue by applying this procedure to graduate to higher gears. Most likely, the learning area you're using will prevent you from getting into higher gears without having to brake quickly. Once you've successfully achieved steps 5 to 7, you're ready for the open road. Do not practice during peak traffic times or on hilly roads with major distractions or obstacles. Practicing higher gears in flat low-traffic areas will continue to build your confidence without placing too much stress on you.
Step 9
Locate an isolated hill or upgrade for your graduation class. The most nerve-wracking aspect of learning to drive a stick shift is having to move the car into first gear upward on a steep grade. Applying the clutch, releasing the foot brake, and finding the friction point before the car rolls back or stalls can be very intimidating. This step only needs to be practiced in first gear, however, since that's the only one you need to move the vehicle up the hill. Once you learn the friction point of first gear--on or off a hill--all the other gears will come naturally.
Standard transmission vehicle


Flat training area void of traffic or pedestrians

Standard transmission vehicle
Flat training area void of traffic or pedestrians
driving standard car

How to Drive a Manual Transmission