Stick Shift Essentials: 5 Tips for Controlling Your Clutch
Plenty of cars from Honda come with a manual transmission, yet most drivers in the United States don’t know how to use the clutch. This is a shame, because they’re missing out on the enjoyment of having ultimate control when driving a Honda Civic or Honda Fit. However, use these tips and you can master the skill of driving a clutch.
1. Keep Both Feet Forward
If you’ve driven an automatic transmission for a while, it might feel weird to use both feet to drive your car. Since every manufacturer sets up the vehicle’s controls differently, it’s a good idea to get familiar with your setup before you head out on the road. Once you’re driving, it’s better to keep both feet forward and ready to go until you feel more familiar with the controls and more confident in your abilities.
2. Starting On a Hill
Starting on a hill is one of the trickiest parts of driving a manual. You have to hold down the brake to keep from rolling backward, press down the gas pedal to get the vehicle moving forward, and depress the clutch pedal to engage first gear all at the same time. That’s three pedals you need to operate with only two feet. This is when your hand brake comes into play.
After you come to a stop, pull up the hand brake to keep the vehicle from rolling backward. When you’re ready to start moving again, start like you normally would but also release the hand brake at the same time. Your timing is key with this action. If you release too quickly the vehicle will roll backward, and if you don’t release soon enough you can’t move.
Just like other things in life, you need to practice driving a manual so you’ll get better at it. When you’re first starting out, practice your timing with the engine off and the emergency brake on. Once you feel comfortable with that, move on to practicing in empty parking lots or very quiet side streets.
4. Keep Your Hands Free
Driving a manual requires the use of both hands. You can’t safely or effectively manage a manual if you’re using one hand to steer and the other hand is holding a cellphone or sandwich. You never know when you’ll have to shift in an instant and keep control of the vehicle. Therefore, it’s a good idea to finish your drink and food before you get into the car, and always leave your phone out of reach so your hands are free.
5. Don’t Panic
For many drivers new to a manual, it’s not uncommon to stall if they shift improperly. If this happens to you when you’re on the road, don’t panic. Instead, depress the brake and clutch, put the vehicle in neutral, restart the vehicle, move the shifter to first gear, and then slowly work the pedal to get moving again.
If you’d like to enjoy one of the many manual transmission Honda vehicles available, follow these tips to learn how to control the clutch.