Estimated Time to Read: 3 minutes

Most Europeans already drive a manual stick shift car, and even many Americans are making the shift to stick nowadays. Stick shift cars tend to be cheaper to buy, and they have better fuel economy, which is why many people choose to drive them. But there may be a few misconceptions out there about driving a manual stick shift. If you think you know what you’re doing, read on to see a few myths busted…

1.     Riding the Clutch is OK

Riding the clutch means driving with the clutch pedal constantly depressed, and this is a bad thing to do. Usually this happens when a driver is just resting his foot on the clutch pedal – Don’t. Even putting a little pressure onto the clutch begins to create wear and tear on the transmission of your vehicle. The only time you should be pressing down on the clutch is to change gear. A clutch is a very expensive and difficult thing to replace. Don’t press the pedal unnecessarily, and definitely don’t ride the clutch. It will end up costing you a fortune.

2.     You Should Downshift to Slow Down

This is a pretty common practice, using your stick shift to switch to consecutively lower gears to slow your car down, rather than using your brakes. People make the excuse that it saves their brakes, which is true. And it works, you can effectively slow your car using only your stick shift. However, the problem with this is that you’re putting extra pressure on the clutch and gears to do your brakes‘ job. Brake pads are fairly easy and cheap to fix. Clutches and gears aren’t. You should use your brakes to slow down, that’s why you have them.

3.     You Can Use Your Clutch to Stop You Rolling Backwards

If you’re stopped on a steep hill, you can indeed use your clutch to stop you rolling back down the hill. Simply find the sweet spot on the pedal that stops your car moving. However, the question isn’t whether you can do it, but should you do it. And the answer is no. If you’re stopped on a hill you need to use the brake to stop you rolling backwards. If you’re inexperienced and not too sure of yourself, use your handbrake. You don’t have to put the handbrake all the way on, just pull it enough to stop you moving backwards. Using your clutch to do this is going to burn out your clutch fast. And as we’ve said before, they’re expensive to replace.

4.     Lurching is Fine, and a Normal Part of Driving A Stick

Nope. When you shift gears up you probably won’t encounter lurching, since your engine will cut out if your revs are too low to support the next gear. Switching down however is more of a problem. If your car lurches while your shifting down it’s because your engine is doing to many revs for the next gear down. What you need to do is decrease your engine speed a little more before you shift down, that way you should be able to switch smoothly. Lurching puts added stress on your clutch, and should be avoided wherever possible.

5.     All Clutches are the Same

This is simply not true, as you will quickly learn if you try to drive someone else’s car. All clutches are individual, and they all have their sweet spot that allows you to hold the car still or to shift gear, particularly when parking. You need to practise finding this spot with an unfamiliar car in a car park, until you get used to the clutch. Not all stick shifts are created equal.

Phil Turner lives in Ireland so drives a manual gearbox car. He fails to see why anyone under 70 would want to drive an automatic car. Automatics cost more get fewer miles to the gallon and even insurance quotes are higher.