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Discussion Starter #1
I learned on a stick... like eight years ago... in the back woods of Kentucky.

I now have the 2007 MS3 GT and have been trying to re-learn everything I knew about driving a stick. But... going from back woods Kentucky to driving in a semi-large city is quite different. I was wondering if anyone has some good tips on the following:


  • Taking off on a steep hill (Yes.. I know.. search. I read some tips around the Internet but nothing that was specific to our cars.) -- my feet are way to large for heel to toe.
    How to get that perfectly smooth shift without taking 5 seconds (Right now the only way I can shift without jumping a little is slowly... slowly... slowly removing my foot from the clutch... I want to do it quicker but still get a smooth shift.)
 

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[quote author=jgilland link=topic=71177.msg1249790#msg1249790 date=1173120815]
I learned on a stick... like eight years ago... in the back woods of Kentucky.

I now have the 2007 MS3 GT and have been trying to re-learn everything I knew about driving a stick. But... going from back woods Kentucky to driving in a semi-large city is quite different. I was wondering if anyone has some good tips on the following:


  • Taking off on a steep hill (Yes.. I know.. search. I read some tips around the Internet but nothing that was specific to our cars.) -- my feet are way to large for heel to toe.
[/quote]
Use the hand brake to hold the car in position briefly while you take your foot off the brake, apply some throttle and start to release the clutch. Release the hand brake when you hear and feel the engine rpm drop as the clutch starts to engage - and the car shouldn't roll back.

[quote author=jgilland link=topic=71177.msg1249790#msg1249790 date=1173120815]
  • How to get that perfectly smooth shift without taking 5 seconds (Right now the only way I can shift without jumping a little is slowly... slowly... slowly removing my foot from the clutch... I want to do it quicker but still get a smooth shift.)
    [/list]
    [/quote]
    For most people smoothness when operating a manual transmission just seems to come with add'l practice and experience. Our cars already have very smooth clutches and shift actions and being smooth when drivng a manual is largely a matter of "feel" IMO...that is, learning by feel where the clutch will start to engage and learning how coordinate your throttle applications. To be smooth you should try to learn how to coordinate your clutch and throttle applications so that engine rpm will rise to closely match the car's road speed as you simultaneously and smoothly release the clutch. For best results try to slip the clutch as little as possible, keep rpm low while engaging the clutch and apply very little throttle until the clutch is completely engaged.

    It's kinda hard to clearly explain how all these things interact without being there to see what your habits are...
  •  

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    Discussion Starter #3
    [quote author=CDTMAZDA3 link=topic=71177.msg1249934#msg1249934 date=1173124760]
    [quote author=jgilland link=topic=71177.msg1249790#msg1249790 date=1173120815]
    I learned on a stick... like eight years ago... in the back woods of Kentucky.

    I now have the 2007 MS3 GT and have been trying to re-learn everything I knew about driving a stick. But... going from back woods Kentucky to driving in a semi-large city is quite different. I was wondering if anyone has some good tips on the following:


    • Taking off on a steep hill (Yes.. I know.. search. I read some tips around the Internet but nothing that was specific to our cars.) -- my feet are way to large for heel to toe.
    [/quote]
    Use the hand brake to hold the car in position briefly while you take your foot off the brake, apply some throttle and start to release the clutch. Release the hand brake when you hear and feel the engine rpm drop as the clutch starts to engage - and the car shouldn't roll back.

    [quote author=jgilland link=topic=71177.msg1249790#msg1249790 date=1173120815]
  • How to get that perfectly smooth shift without taking 5 seconds (Right now the only way I can shift without jumping a little is slowly... slowly... slowly removing my foot from the clutch... I want to do it quicker but still get a smooth shift.)
    [/list]
    [/quote]
    For most people smoothness when operating a manual transmission just seems to come with add'l practice and experience. Our cars already have very smooth clutches and shift actions and being smooth when drivng a manual is largely a matter of "feel" IMO...that is, learning by feel where the clutch will start to engage and learning how coordinate your throttle applications so that the engine rpm will increase to closely match the car's road speed as you simultaneously release the clutch transfer engine power through the transmission.

    It's kinda hard to clearly explain how all these things interact without being there to see what your habits are...
    [/quote]

    Thanks for the tips! I went out and practiced yesterday. What I was doing with hills was kind of the same, except I was holding the brake (not parking brake) and letting the clutch out until I could feet it getting close to that die point. I was then quickly going over to the gas. I was still rolling back at least a foot with this method.
  •  

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    You're welcome.

    I probably should have added that even when using the parking brake you should keep your foot on the brake pedal until just before you're ready to pull away. Otherwise your brake lights won't be on while you're waiting to go...and of course you want drivers approaching from behind to immediately see them so they'll realize you're stopped.

    Also I've known some people who developed a bad habit when sitting on hills of applying some gas and slipping the clutch to hold the car in place while waiting vs completely disengaging the clutch and using the brakes. Slipping the clutch to hold the car while waiting on hills will greatly shorten the service life of the clutch. I've known people who thought it was "normal" having to replace the clutch in their vehicle every 2 years or so.

    That's bull! Before I bought my 3 I got rid of an '82 Toyota Supra that still had the original clutch in working condition after 23 years and over 245k miles. I'm sure the Supra's clutch was worn, but it worked fine and still didn't slip at all.
     

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    Keeping your foot on the brake while easing the clutch out until you feel it start to grab is how I do it. Keep in mind though, not all cars are capable of that. My RX-7 would stall every time if I tried that. Also be careful you don't get into the habit CDTMAZDA3 describes. Your clutch will last FOREVER if you treat it well.
     

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    Once you have enough pratice you should be more then capable of timing things to be able to let off the brake and let out the clutch and hit the gas with enough timing so that you can begin accelerating with minimal roll back. Unless the hill is REALLY step I rarely roll back more then a foot on a hill when starting. It just takes lots of practice. Its just a matter of knowing right where the clutch grab point is so you immediately let off the brake and let out the clutch to the point where it is grabbing enough to hold the car on the hill while hitting the gas, you then apply more gas and let out the clutch more to get her going (this process should take about a half second to a second between the time you let off the brake and the car begins to roll forward). Lots of practice builds up not only an intellectual grasp of it, it also builds muscle memory.

    When I got my 3 I had very little manual driving experience. The day after I bought my car I took it to the hill heading down to the pool at my apartment complex. The hill is about a 7 degree grade and about 300 yards long. I just spent 20 minutes practicing on it and really haven't had problems since (okay a couple of stalls the first month or two starting on hills, but no roll backs of more then a foot or two ever).
    -matt
     

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    Matt's right - with practice you generally shouldn't need to use the parking brake hold method. There are times when I do still use it though...such as when the hill is very steep and the driver behind has pulled up very close to my car.

    Using the parking brake as you're learning can help until you gain confidence in your throttle/clutch coordination skills.
     

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    I'm currently teaching my teenager how to drive a stick. Biggest teaching aid is, on a flat road, slowly let out the clutch without any gas to get it smoothly rolling. With this shes learning the clutch engage point. Next step is to gently give it gas at the engage point. With these skills down, then we can go practice on a hill where you need to know these techniques. An aid I've been using is to practice this at night. The rpms drop at the engage point, dimming the lights slightly - no need to watch the tach for a beginner.

    I've never had any problems doing a heel/toe in other cars, but cannot do it in my 3. My size 13 foot & the close pedals don't mix. Drives me nuts on very steep hills where i'm forced to use the ebrake.

    For a super smooth shift change from 1 to 2, like when my rider is sipping coffee, I accelerate & shift very slowly, shifting at maybe 1200-1500rpm, with a little rev match, so theres no jerking at all. Smoother than an automatic. Or on a flat road , I sometimes start off in 2nd. But this will use your clutch up quicker. Or let the clutch out a little slower going into 2nd (not as slow as 1st), but again, this takes it toll on the clutch life. But nothing beats mastering how to rev match.
     

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    Discussion Starter #9
    Thanks to everyone for the tips. I spent about 2 hours yesterday after work driving around. I spent about 10-15 minutes on a semi-steep hill in my neighborhood and only killed it once. At the end I was able to get very small roll back. I've gotten to where about 50% of my shifts are very smooth.
     

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    All you need to know, is that inertia is everything in a manual car.

    Once there is enough built up inertia and the car is in motion (slowly letting off the clutch in gear, rolling), you have to bring the car to almost a complete stop to stall out.

    You'll feel the car start the shudder, that's from lack of inertia, at this point you just need to lightly accelerate, or neutral it..

    It's extremely simple and logical, once you get that down.
     

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    i'm going through the same exact thing . . . i learned to drive manual about 5-6 years ago and had max 20hrs driving manual expereince . . . now after 3 weeks of driving and i feel much more confident . . . but it still doesn't feel natural i hope it will soon be more of a second nature to me . . .

    hills are no longer a problem, but i still sometimes get nervous if someones riding my ass right behind

    where i feel the least confident is while driving and making a turn . . . for example approaching an intersection making a left/right on a green and no traffic . . . i usually slow down put it in neutral, make the turn and put it in 2nd and acelerate out of the turn and straighten up. i dont feel very confident in any of the turns i make . . . i either slow down too much or too little and get anxious what gear to downshift into . . .

    also sometimes rolling into a red and then the light changes . . . if i am going 2-6 mph's or so do i shift into 1st or 2nd . . . i assume 1st but sometimes it doesn't let me so i double clutch and try again or put it straight into 2nd, is this right or should I be doing something different?
     

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    Generally, if you're moving at all, you should put it in 2nd. 1st is doable sometimes, but just to be safe put it in 2nd until you're confident enough.
     

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    [quote author=jm_fadd link=topic=71177.msg1252545#msg1252545 date=1173221212]
    i dont feel very confident in any of the turns i make . . . i either slow down too much or too little and get anxious what gear to downshift into . . .
    [/quote]

    I find myself, when stopped & making a turn, usually shifting from 1 to 2 either in the middle or tail end of the turn. When cruising & making a turn, if I'm booking I'll downshift to 3rd. Normal driving 2nd. I'm fully engaged either right at the start of the turn or just starting into it & giving a little gas. Learned from years of riding bikes its better to be in the power band when turning rather than coasting around a turn.

    This makes me think how I'm doing it ... it just sort of comes without thinking.
     

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    i am going to try it fully engaged in 2nd or 3rd and see how it feels . . . i always want be driving and practicing but the price of gas has gone up so high here in the past couple weeks and the weather has been horrible . . . today it was close to -35 with the windchill . . . I've had the car for 3-4 weeks now and only have about 500miles on her and the bulk of that was when i first got it driving from home where i bought the car to where i go to school :) so i am just getting out of the break in period . . .

    i'm lovin' it no regrets on the mtx . . . just trying to get used to the transition!
     

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    I also wouldn't recommend putting the car in neutral and coasting through turns. If your're in neutral and suddenly need to accelerate (say to avoid someone else) you could find yourself S.O.L.

    Motorcycle safety courses I've taken even advise against shifting to neutral when you're waiting for lights to change. The reasoning given is that you need to be prepared pull away immediately in case you need move out of the way to prevent someone from running into you from the rear...or from any other direction. Of course, the danger to motorcyclists in such situations is greater since the chances of motorists approaching from behind not seeing you is greater vs when you in a car. Still, any time you're in neutral the time it will take to react and accelerate if required will be greater.
     

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    [quote author=CDTMAZDA3 link=topic=71177.msg1253917#msg1253917 date=1173282645]
    Motorcycle safety courses I've taken even advise against shifting to neutral when you're waiting for lights to change. The reasoning given is that you need to be prepared pull away immediately in case there could be a need move out of the way to prevent someone from running into you from the rear. Of course, the danger to motorcyclists in such situations is greater since the chances of motorists approaching from behind not seeing you is greater vs when you in a car. Still, any time you're in neutral the time it will take to react and accelerate if required will be greater.
    [/quote]

    ABSOLUTELY!!!

    This saved my life years ago, stopped at a red. Noticed a car in my mirrors coming up too fast. Last second I hit it & changed lanes, the idiot sailed right by, probably 40 or 50, without even braking at the red light. :shock: Only time I now put my car in neutral at a red is when theres a car behind me and stopped, or no cars to be seen.

    I've always believed the best drivers have driven bikes for a few years or more. Teaches you skills & defensive moves that you'll never pick up in a car. An example is what i posted above ... always be in power & control going around corners. Why? Any MC rider knows that speed & quick acceleration can get you out of a hairy situation often better than slamming on brakes & fighting physics & inertia.
     

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    see i thought engaging the clutch at a stop is another form of riding the clutch . . . so i dont usually do it . . . i just go into first right before i notice the lights change . . .

    Well I went out driving today and feeling much better going thnrough the turns none-the-less . . . thanks! :D
     

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    [quote author=jm_fadd link=topic=71177.msg1254109#msg1254109 date=1173287613]
    see i thought engaging the clutch at a stop is another form of riding the clutch . . . so i dont usually do it . . . i just go into first right before i notice the lights change . . .

    Well I went out driving today and feeling much better going thnrough the turns none-the-less . . . thanks! :D
    [/quote]
    Like Mazz said... In all honesty I usually shift to neutral and release the clutch when waiting at a light to save wear and tear on the clutch release bearing...and to relax my leg muscles. But I also try to keep an eye on vehicles approaching from behind until they come to a stop. If I see someone approaching too fast for comfort I'll immediately shift back into 1st gear-just in case.
     

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    [quote author=jm_fadd link=topic=71177.msg1254109#msg1254109 date=1173287613]
    see i thought engaging the clutch at a stop is another form of riding the clutch . . . so i dont usually do it . . . i just go into first right before i notice the lights change . . .
    [/quote]
    riding, or slipping, or burning the clutch is when the 2 plates are starting to grab & car is starting to move. Ride the clutch too much & you'll be replacing it. With the clutch fully engaged (pedal to the floor), the clutch plates are separated, so no wear. Your throw-out bearing is engaged, which is a 'wear' item, but it can take a lot of use & abuse.
     

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    I hope this isn't too much of a threadjack, but I am also having clutch issues...

    I've got a brand new s - Sport. Bought it this week, it has about 160 mile on it. The clutch is a lot different from my previous car (Rx7) and I"m still getting used to it. I've been taking it easy, and not shifting hard at all, taking care not to ride the clutch, ect. but I still get a lot of burning clutch smell coming from the car when I'm done driving. Can anyone let me know if this is normal for a new car as the clutch breaks in or am I just too hamfooted :lol:?
     
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