A Beginner's Guide to Driving Stick Shift: Hitting the Road

A Beginner’s Guide to Driving Stick Shift: Hitting the Road

In this series, we’ll discuss tips, tricks, and best practices for driving stick shift. Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s dive into technique.


To slow to a stop, use the brake as you normally would. When your speed is reduced, press the clutch with your left foot as you release the accelerator with your right. Once stopped, move the shifter to the neutral position, release the clutch, and apply only the brake pedal with your right foot.


Shifting is very similar to shifting on a bike- upshifting makes things easier as you gain speed, downshifting gives you more power. To shift, press in the clutch and release the accelerator. Then switch gears, release the clutch, and slowly press the accelerator. Many beginners think shifting needs to happen fast and in one fluid motion, but that’s not the case. You can break up each step and do it on its own which, especially when you’re first starting out, makes for a much smoother transition.


There are two ways to slow down a standard car: engine braking and free rolling. Engine braking uses the engine’s power to slow the vehicle by downshifting. This helps to control speed while driving down steep hills and long slopes and saves the brakes from overheating or excessive wear. Engine braking is often preferred to free rolling, which is when you take the car out of gear, put it into neutral, and coast to a stop with the brake. Free rolling is considered dangerous as there is no power in an emergency. Plus, it’s illegal in some places.


To park, simply put the car in gear. If you’re on a hill, and the car can roll forward place the car in reverse; if it can roll forward, shift into first.

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Written by Developer Autoshop