By on October 23, 2012

man(ual) in milwaukee (yes really) writes:

hey ho –

i’d like to learn how to drive a manual transmission, and i’d like to learn all the tricks. i hear you can roll it down a hill and pop the clutch to start it, i’ve heard you can shift gears without pushing in the clutch at a certain rpm – are these things true? what other cool things can you do with a manual transmission?

Sajeev answers:

Damn son, I’ve never been called a “ho” before, but I’ll totally take it as a compliment. An ironic compliment, but enough about me and my insecurities…let’s focus on one’s need to have a stick in their hand for all means of motoring pleasure.

Yes you can “push start” a manual transmission car to get it running. You can also shift between gears without the clutch, but it takes a keen sense of when the transmission’s snychros and the engine are spinning at the right speed to make it work.  I’d suggest practicing disengaging a gear without a clutch first, it’s done by feel with a little pressure on the gear stick as the RPMs fall down towards idle.

Other cool things:

  • Heel and Toe Downshifting: a must for anyone who wants to kill it on a roadcourse. I still need to master this, it’s very important.
  • Powershifting: Awesome, but only a bright idea if you have a gearbox that can handle it.  Back in the day, I remember the LT-1/LS-1 Camaros where happier than a pig in poop when you’d powershift their T-56 gearboxes.  Mustangs with T-5 and T-45 gearboxes? Not so much.  Honda Tunerbois?  Never.
  • General Car Control: a manual gearbox (compared to a conventional automatic) gives much more control over a vehicle at the limit. You can feel how and where the car’s powertrain can get the tires to the point of losing grip, either in terms of understeer or oversteer.
  • Better fuel economy and power:  Manual gearboxes don’t use hydraulic fluid between elements of the powertrain, unlike the torque converter in an automatic.  It’s more efficient (gear ratios being equal) and makes for more power put to the ground. The difference between an automatic and a manual in a smaller engined vehicle is where you really see the difference.
  • Price: manual transmission cars are often cheaper. When I bought my 2011 Ranger, one salesperson questioned my manual-transmission resolve.  Not because he cared, because he didn’t have any sticks on the lot.  My reply to him?  I avoided the discussion above, instead saying “no way I’m gonna pay $800 more for something I don’t want on a $14,000 truck!

Off to you, dear gear jammin’ Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

 

 

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128 Comments on “Piston Slap: What can I do with that Stick in my hand?...”


  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    All those ‘tricks’ are true, but if you’re just learning to drive stick, I think you’d be better off just learning how to shift gear properly and smoothly, without grinding any gears. These ‘tricks’ are almost never used in everyday situation anyway, and only useful when you’re driving seriously deficient cars. For example: Shifting gear without the clutch is useful if you had to drive a car whose clutch is shot, and of course starting a car by running downhill and popping the clutch is useful if you’re driving a car which can’t be started conventionally, by turning the key. I last did that a few years ago, in reverse, no less (because it was actually a slight incline, in an intersection no less) when my car’s battery died on me.

    • 0 avatar
      NotFast

      +1 to Mr. Whoopee

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      I have bump started cars many, many times. It helps to have somebody to help you push, but it can be done solo – with a bit of luck. That said, I have also learned the hard way that if the battery is really, really dead on a fuel-injected car it is of no use. When the electric fuel pump isn’t spinning, only a set of jumper cables and another car will get you back on the road.

      I have often wondered if it is a good idea to bump start one of today’s multi CPU wonders. Without the starter motor in the engine management loop, things might go pear shaped. You might just dump unburnt fuel into a catalytic converter, that sort of thing. This thought makes me reach for the jumper cables rather than pushing my luck, as it were. Can anybody comment on this?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        While the words “body computer” mean that a dead battery can be an ordeal in a BMW from the last 13 years or so, I roll started my 2007 Honda without incident when the battery died this year. It was deader than disco too, without enough juice to operate central locking or illuminate a warning light when I turned the key.

        BTW, roll starting is generally best accomplished in 2nd gear.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        BMWnut…

        Since you asked for a comment: I am a “BMW nut” too, after a fashion. I have both a 2006 325i and a 2007 Z4 (avatar above). The only procedure I would risk is jumper cables. No bump starting. I just can’t trust that anymore. These cars are much too complicated, and getting voltages out of order could do damage big time. I’d rather call for a flat-bed or road-side assistance and have either of them towed. Yes, that’s how paranoid I am about them..

        ———–

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Most owner’s manuals of newer cars will say that you shouldn’t do it. I remember reading this for at least one of my manual transmission cars.

        If you have an old car, it’d probably be fine.

      • 0 avatar
        Angus McClure

        IIRC you used to be able to push start an automatic, or at least some of them. I am thinking of the early powerglides. It took 20mph or so in low range. Something to do with the oil pump(s). You could also tow them if you kept the speed low.

        I am not a mechanic and wouldn’t even say I am still blessed with much of a memory but, for whatever it’s worth…..

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        As long as you still have a good amount of battery left to run the electronics (Probably no less than 11.5V in most cases) and fuel pump, it should be fine.

        Whenever the key is on, from the computer’s perspective, it’s seeing engine speed at 0 and is ready to do it’s business. As soon as the crank and cam sensors tell it the engine is turning, it will inject and fire spark accordingly. Some computers have an input for a start signal. My guess is it will trigger an optimized program to account for the low engine speed during cranking, making it easier to start.

        The problem most people make when bump starting a car is using 1st gear. You want 2nd or perhaps 3rd. The gearing works in reverse and makes it easier to turn the engine.

        In some cases or done improperly, jump starting is harder on the electronics and is worse.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        It’s interesting that it’s evidently easier to bump-start a car in second… the few times I’ve had to do it, usually with my buddy’s Civic, we’ve used first. I’ll have to give second a go sometime.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I believe there are two reasons to use 2nd gear instead of 1st:
        1) less engine braking and less jerk on the drivetrain (and on the people pushing you)
        2) the engine doesn’t rev up as high, so you are less likely to damage it

        Reverse is sometimes the same gear ratio as 1st, but if you have to roll backwards, then it works, just be careful.

        You usually don’t want to use 3rd because the car usually needs to be going faster in order to push-start in 3rd.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s the duty of every person capable of driving a manual transmission equipped vehicle to teach at least one other person to do the same (assuming they know someone who wishes to learn).

        This is the “pay it forward” model of keeping one of the best & finest features of the automobile alive & kicking.

        No computer, no matter how advanced, can or ever will replace the sensation of control over the mechanical interconnection between transmission and motor as satisfyingly as a human hand on a manual gear lever and human foot on a clutch petal working their way through the gears, like a finely tuned orchestra.

        My cousin taught me to drive a manual using a rusty old Datsun pickup in a large Catholic Church parking lot in the early 1990s.

        The aroma of burning clutch permeated the air that day, but the truck didn’t break or even complain much during that relentless beating consisting of many depress-start-rev-shift-ease-jerk-stutter-stall sequences.

        I’ll never forget driving on public roads for the next week, fearing each and every stop sign, red light or other thing that required me to do anything other than drive at a consistent speed in an already successfully selected gear.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        DeadWeight…

        You are waltzing very close to one of my favorite car topics: Manual Transmission Driving as Your Own Personal Performing Arts Center!

        You see, we aren’t actually talking about driving. It just seems that way. We are actually talking about Road Ballet, a marvelously choreographed performance, a synthesis of man and machine, which, when done smoothly, competently, and quickly, can bring tears to the eyes of the uninitiated. “Le nozze di Figaro*” has nothing on this stuff!

        Aaaah, …. the floating through the graceful turns, the apex perfectly crested, the rev-matched downshift, the jerk-free clutch engagement, the harnessing of primeval roaring explosive fire within your engine, and the blasting acceleration — ALL done under your control and your direct mechanical linkage to the road….

        But then again, I do get carried away…(^_^)…

        * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0JGufT2YUY

        ———

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @NMG, it’s no exaggeration to state that I honestly believe my enthusiasm for automobiles would be far more tepid absent the experience of driving a manual.

        Driving an automatic transmission equipped car seems so boring by contrast, as there’s so little by comparison to remind the driver of the mechanical processes happening underneath the hood and floor.

        One is an experience in near total isolation, and the other is a 3 contact point exercise in feeling mechanical sensory input, akin to riding a living, breathing instrument that begs to communicate its abilities & limitations with the driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        @NMG

        Road ballet indeed. Just the other day I was driving with my friend in the passenger seat and approached an advanced left turn light at speed. I smoothly double-clutched down from 5th to 3rd and then applied the brake and heel-toed down to second as I made the turn and sling-shot out the other end without even jostling him. To me it was nothing special, but he told me almost immediately that it was impressive to him as he as an automatic driver had no idea what was going on, but it “just looked pretty cool.”

      • 0 avatar
        bonzoesc

        The owner’s manual for my 2012 Mustang has a dire warning about push-starting the automatic variant (in which case you should undoubtedly call the firm you rented it from), but nothing about push-starting the standard transmission version:

        Do not attempt to push-start your automatic transmission vehicle. Automatic transmissions do not have push-start capability. Attempting to push-start a vehicle with an automatic transmission may cause transmission damage.

  • avatar
    redav

    The trend of today’s automatics is to lock up to eliminate the losses of the torque converter. As time goes by, the benefits of the manual over the automatic will continue to decrease.

    • 0 avatar

      Well not so much: lockup TCs have been around since the 1980s. The only reason autos are better in terms of economy is from gearing difference and the general ignorance of how to drive a stick shift car in accordance with the Laws of Thermodynamics.

      (i.e. usually accelerate within the motor’s peak torque, shift to the highest gear possible when you are ready to cruise.)

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Well the difference is that the TC used to only lock up once the car was in top gear and at a high enough speed. With modern electronic controls, OEMs have figured out how to lock up the TC in every gear, as soon as possible, even around town. All while maintaining acceptable smoothness. Result is better mpg, better acceleration, and less of that disconnected feeling that gave ‘slushboxes’ their name.

        Honda’s Hondamatics work a little differently, and have always been more ‘direct’ feeling, at the expense of smoothness.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed…TC lockup functions are waaay smarter than the AOD gearbox in my avatar. But still, it isn’t always engaged/locked, unlike a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Real world fuel economy is still better for manuals. The reason they do poorly on the EPA test has to do with the shift points used on the test, which were picked arbitrarily and are used for all cars no matter what their torque peaks correspond to in road speeds. That’s why GM puts the skip-shift ‘feature’ on certain cars. By forcing the car into 4th gear on the first shift, they avoid all the unnecessary holding the car in intermediate gears while accelerating slowly (0-50 mph in 28 seconds) that is part of the test. Automatics are programmed for the test instead of for the real world, making them less efficient than they would otherwise be in use.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Hoo boy, is this topic talked out. I want a three on the tree crash box, but I’m not so hopeful.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    If you pull some of those tricks wrong, you can also pay to have the transmission rebuilt. That is, if you can find anyone competent to do it.

    While autoboxes show high efficiency, they also game the EPA cycle. Unless you drive just like the EPA, my guess is that you are better off with a MT if high MPGs are something you aspire to.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I think it depends on the vehicle. My dad has the 6MT tacoma and it is rated much worse than the 5AT tacoma because the gearing is so aggressive on the 6MT. For whatever reasons, Americans seem to hate downshifting their manual transmissions, so the automakers set the gearing to allow you to accelerate at a decent rate in top gear. My old 6MT MKV GTI would pass pretty easily in top gear unless I was going down in the 40mph range. With the common trend of 6+ gears in ATs, automakers can put really tall 5th and 6th gears in for just off-idle cruising. Throw in that lock-up is showing up in many more gears than before and those MT efficiencies start to dwindle.

      I still prefer a manual transmission, but the reasons are just down to cheaper, more fun, and more reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hi Quentin….

        Maybe I can add two more:
        1) Longer endurance (like even 500,000 miles with proper oil changes);
        2) Greater car control, especially on slippery surfaces in Winter.

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @Quentin…Ok question here. If you know you have to bring the vehicle to a full stop, why down shift? As I begin to slow down I will go 6th to 5th,maybe down to 4th. Then I will go, clutch in and coast to a stop,and then shift back to first.

        Am I doing something wrong? My thinking is that clutch’s are more expensive than brake pads.

      • 0 avatar

        Mikey, is it a manual? If it is such practice is actually not permited by the Brazilian traffic code. I think it only has to do with safety. Another thing is that if you don’t fully deploy the clutch you could bring extra and unnecessary wear and tear on it.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        NMGOM – I guess I was covering overall durability under reliability. You will go through a few clutches in that 500k and probably some throwout bearings, too. You might have to put two ATs in a car over that time period (or more depending how poorly the AT is designed.. but some glass manual transmissions do exist as well). I don’t think I’ll ever drive a car 500k miles, so it is a moot point for me, haha. If I’m ever in the situation where I have to buy a 200k mile vehicle for my reliable daily driver, I’ll definitely choose a stick shift from a maker with known bulletproof manual gearboxes.

        You can engine brake in many ATs. My 4Runner will stay in whatever gear I tell it via the sport shift mode. Throw in defeatable traction control, a traction control mode that doesn’t kill throttle, and stability control, and today’s ATs can be very good in the snow.

        Mikey – I flounder back and forth on that question. Downshifting into a stop does put increased wear on the clutch and pushes engine revs higher than just putting in neutral and rolling/braking to a stop, but is it significant enough to truly impact the wear rate of your brakes or clutch. Since the clutch is such a long interval change, if it only requires you to change at 140k instead of 150k and you stretch your brake change intervals from 60k to 80k, then it might be worth it (1 clutch job and 2 brake jobs in 200k versus 1 clutch job and 3 brake jobs in 200k). I think you’d really have to know exactly how much each action contributes to the overall fatigue of the component. Downshifting just to keep the car from stalling feels right to me, so that is what I do. I also drive really conservative so the best “stop” is where the car basically rolls to the stop and I just have to press the brakes at the very end.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        The MT usually will beat the EPA numbers because the shift points required by the test are artificially high, while the engineers can program the AT to shift for optimum mileage. I love my MT Honda Fit and get 34/38 real world (on E10) vs 37/33 on the sticker.

        I often drive on steep mountain roads (California 18 and 330). The control, especially on donwgrades saves the brakes and is much safer. Many newer automatics no longer allow a full manual selection of gears and have coast clutches that allow freweeling for mileage. I often smell burning brakes on those roads. The supposedly more efficient CVT’s have their own set of problems. I recently rented a Sentra, D and L only, like an old Powerglide. Burn the brakes or go 20mph downhill, no other choices.

        Yes, it was also nice to save $1100 on a $15,000 car.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        @Mikey,

        I could be wrong, but I believe Quentin is referring to downshifting in context of needing power to pass or accelerate, and not so much downshifting to bring your car to a stop.

        For stopping, I would assume the best way to do it is still to use your brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        nikita – I can’t speak for all automatics, but my 4Runner has grade logic where it will engine brake if it determines you are going down a grade. I remember a stretch of road where my parents’ 97 Yukon would gain speed like crazy back when I was learning to drive. The same stretch of road does not have the same result in my ’10 4Runner.

        daiheadjai – That is correct. Many manuals today are always “on boil” at top gear at interstate cruising speeds. It is fun to put your foot in it and get immediate response, but it is certainly less efficient than the vehicle that is making just enough horsepower to keep it going down the road.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Ok question here. If you know you have to bring the vehicle to a full stop, why down shift? As I begin to slow down I will go 6th to 5th,maybe down to 4th. Then I will go, clutch in and coast to a stop,and then shift back to first.”

        For modern engines, you will save gas by staying in 6th until the revs drop close to idle, then coasting in neutral to a stop. When you are above idle and coasting, there is no load on a modern engine, and therefore you will be using no fuel. If instead, you downshift your way down, you will use more gas.

        Some people like to “save the brakes” by downshifting to slow down, but this is generally not cost-effective. Brake pads are cheap. Clutch jobs are not, and manual transmission rebuilds are not either. You should always downshift on a steep downgrade on a mountain so that you don’t overheat your brakes, but in other situations, it’s stupid to “save the brakes.”

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    There are several cars out there where the rated mpg is higher with the automatics than manuals.

    • 0 avatar

      Check their final drive ratios…betcha the autos are taller. Match the ratios and the Manual will spank the Auto.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Stumpaster….

      I know of no AUTOMATIC transmission (with torque converter) that gets better fuel mileage for its car than a manual transmission in an all-else-equal, apples-to-apples comparison. That means:
      1) Each transmission has exactly the same number of gears;
      2) Each transmission has the identical gear ratios;
      3) Each configuration has the identical final drive ratio in the differential;
      4) Each car is driven and shifted the same way, and with competent operators.

      Conversely, I know of several AUTOMATED transmissions (solenoid-activated mechanical gearboxes with clutches) that DO get better fuel mileage than the exactly comparable manual transmissions simply because the shifting speeds are faster. Porsche’s PDK is an example.

      TTAC folks: Does anyone have any information otherwise?

      ————–

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I recommend reading the manual for your vehicle (if it came with a stock stick shift). Some manufacturers strongly advise against push starting and skipping gears when shifting. Do it the right way and you can mess with the fancy stuff later on.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      So your advice is to read the manual for his manual?

    • 0 avatar

      Push starting is out on modern cars. All makers print strong warnings in their manuals against the practice. It’s not bad for the transmission but can destroy the catalyzer, which is a costly replacement if it stops working.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Back in the day a battery that was too weak to crank a car over often had enough life to provide spark, which was all you needed it for to keep the engine running. Now it needs enough voltage to run the ECU, fuel pump & injectors, so if it’s close to dead you’re not going anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        “Push starting is out on modern cars. All makers print strong warnings in their manuals against the practice. It’s not bad for the transmission but can destroy the catalyzer, which is a costly replacement if it stops working.”

        Actually, that used to be considered fun when applied to the muffler in pre-catalyst days. You would get a huge backfire, maybe including a belch of flame out the tailpipe and possibly even blow out the muffler. Or so I’m told.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        chuckrs….

        “Actually, that used to be considered fun when applied to the muffler in pre-catalyst days. You would get a huge backfire, maybe including a belch of flame out the tailpipe and possibly even blow out the muffler. Or so I’m told.”

        You were told correctly. In the old delightful carburetor days, you could even turn off your engine while in top gear going down a hill, pre-load your entire exhaust system with raw gas, and turn the engine back on. Flames coming out of the tailpipe were nothing: we always tried to see who could blow their muffler* to smithereens first! Great noise and Good stuff.

        * Didn’t really need those things anyway: mufflers, like brakes, were considered low-cost options. Both impeded true progress down the roadways…(^_^)

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        Not that I’d know personally or anything, but I think the preferred procedure was find a long hill, shut the engine off, judiciously get it in gear to get a good amount of unburned fuel and air in the exhaust system and then ignition and liftoff.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      What manufacturer advises against skipping gears, and why?

      As long as you wait for an appropriate engine speed before engaging the clutch, what’s the problem?

      • 0 avatar

        On a manual, going from 1 to 3 to 5 can save fuel economy. At least according to a Brazilian site that tested the theory. On the other hand they interviewed some industry types who recommended against it not because of wear and tear,, but rather because the ECU could be “learn” this style of driving and become rough riding when driving normally. DOn’t know if it’s true, but I regularly skip gearss in my car when i deem the situation appropriate.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        My Camaro under certain RPM / SPEED conditions,will force you to shift 1st to 4th.

      • 0 avatar

        @Mikey: Sadly my cars don

      • 0 avatar

        @Mikey: Sadly my cars don’t have that kind of power. I can do 1-3-5 or 2-4 up or downshifting, but not 1-4. :(!

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yeah, I would be surprised to find an owner’s manual recommending that you don’t skip gears — care to tell us which one? I bet what the actual concern is lugging the engine with a high load at low RPM (e.g. being just above idle after a 1-3 shift and trying to accelerate WOT). In many cars, it’s quite easy to shift 1-3-5-6 or 1-2-4-6, and it won’t harm the engine if you aren’t lugging the engine at low RPM. Many engines can handle it, but on lower power engines and older engines, lugging might damage the crankshaft bearings. You can tell when you’re lugging by sound — the engine sounds like it’s struggling.

        I’d question whether it would make the ECU learn a bad pattern.

        1-4 is a the infamous GM skip-shift. It’s been around for a while to game the EPA and has been mentioned several times on TTAC. Those particular GM cars (Corvette, Camaro, Firebird/Trans Am) tend to be high performance, so they have plenty of torque to do a 1-4 at low RPM.

      • 0 avatar

        @Controlio

        Manufacturers’ manuals often (or everyone I’ve read) advise againt push starting, not jumping gears. Like you said, jumping gears is not a biggie. As to the ECU learns that or not, I’ve heard it before. Maybe it’s an urban myth.

        Again, OEMs recommend not push starting in order not to hurt the cat.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        I only really use all five gears from a stop if I’m just driving for fun; otherwise, I end up skipping one or two. This usually combines with shifting just over 2k.

  • avatar
    TR4

    “what other cool things can you do with a manual transmission”

    You can put it in top gear then push the car and rotate the engine to set ignition timing or adjust valves.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Get started on the basics (granny shiftin’ and double clutchin’) then work on the trick moves.

    Some are learned out of necessity. Way back I had an Escort GT winter beater with a weak battery. Being a poor high school kid, I drove it for a couple weeks not using the starter at all. Of course I was killig the poor alternator, but it lasted til I sold the thing.

    I would back in at the top of my driveway which had a decent grade. When I went to leave, i would turn the ignition to ON, shifter in 1st gear, take off the hand brake, clutch in, shove off with the other leg, get some momentum pop the clutch and if you have enough speed voila the motor is running. Be ready, because she’s in gear and will run away on you.

    If you don’t have a suitable grade to help you get rolling, this method will require a helper to push you.

    Another Pro Tip: If you knowingly are driving around in a manual trans vehicle with a bad battery, DO NOT stall it in an intersection. You may be endangering your life getting er push started through a red light.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    So, you actually got this in an e-mail? You’re sure it wasn’t JB havin’ a little fun?

    Push starting a car with a flat battery worked fine in the days of carburetors and engine-mounted mechanical fuel pumps, driven off the crankshaft. With today’s cars having electric fuel pumps in the gas tank and high pressure fuel pumps driving the fuel injectors (not to mention various variable valve timing mechanisms (or even using valve lift as a form of throttling the engine as in BMW’s “valvetronic” or Fiat’s “multi-air”), I’m not so sure. I suppose it might depend on just how “flat” the battery is. I would urge anyone thinking of push-starting one of today’s cars to RTFM! first.

    As far as the rest of it goes, it takes considerable time to master the mechanics of getting the car moving smoothly from a stop, knowing when to shift in normal driving before attempting any of the fancy stuff.

    As far as NMGOM’s point about fuel economy, I agree with his conclusions. But I wonder whether the DCT’s better performance is due to their being programmed to optimize fuel economy in the EPA cycle. And there is the question of final drive ratios, number of gears available and whether each gear is the exact same ratio in both the DCT and the manual tranny. It’s very hard to make these comparisons. For example, the final drive ratio in the automatic V-6 Mustang is lower than in the manual transmission version, so that car gets better EPA numbers. Also (having driven one) the automatic is programmed to upshift very aggressively and to hold engine speed at around 1500 rpm even under fairly heavy throttle. No one would willingly drive a manual this way. Similarly, the DCT version of the Ford Focus has one more gear than the manual and also is programmed to upshift very aggressively and lug the engine at 1500 rpm (I’ve driven that one, too.). I don’t know about the final drive ratios of the manual vs. the DCT.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendon from Canada

      Hey DC – I did manage to push start 2001 Honda Prelude in a snowy parking lot when a battery up and died a half dozen years ago. Definitely a fuel injected vehicle, and with the older VTEC system (not the iVTEC) – not quite the same as valvetronic, as there was only the single adjustment point (ie on/off with the differing cam lobes)… It certainly worked just fine, though I only ever did it once…

    • 0 avatar

      Piston Slap is just like an automotive forum/BBS you see elsewhere: no question is off limits.**

      **Except the ones that Lang and I do for New or Used.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Didn’t mean to suggest that the question was off-limits. But the tone and language of the e-mail left me incredulous that anyone would seriously write that way. And my suggestion that this was just JB sockpuppeting was entirely in jest, I assure you!

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    MPG debates on slushbox vs. manual vs. CVT = boring.

    Driving a manual = more fun for you!

    Lesson learned, get the manual.

    But take advice of the other posts and learn the basics on rowing the gears first. Unless you fancy paying for a rebuilt tranny don’t worry about the other stuff unless you’re going to hit the track and have a tranny that can handle the abuse.

    Good Luck man(ual) in milwaukee!

  • avatar
    Stephen82

    Reading this makes me miss my ’78 280Z that much more. Appliance cars (like the ones I have now out of necessity) are automatic. To drive for the love of driving, stick shift is the only way to go. Some of my best memories are of shifting gears in that Z car on back country roads at midnight with a full moon and the green glow from the guages lighting up the interior like a cock-pit. Radio off; only the sound of the engine and the wind coming in through those tiny windows. Pure Bliss!

    Plus push starting a car is invaluable when the starter or battery go out on you. Saved me a major headache numerous times.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      +1

      I won’t ever drive another automatic transmission vehicle in my life unless something happens to me in the physical sense (e.g. serious leg injury) that mandates it.

      Even heavy, stop-and-go traffic is not the slightest bother in a manual gearbox vehicle for the seasoned driver, as the process of clutch-shift-ease becomes so intuitive that it’s even easier than 2nd nature; there’s not a moment’s deliberative thought required to master the Zen of tri-contact point driving.

      Your ownership of a 1978 280Z has me envious. That’s a car I will own one day, or its predecessor, the 240Z, even if I have to restore either myself.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I learned to drive on a 64 Chev 6cyl, three on the tree. I even passed my driving test with it.In my teenage years I owned quite a few old beater standards.After wife and kids come along it was strictly automatics for nearly forty years.

    Last summer, in a seniors moment/mid life crisis,I traded my Impala LTZ in on a Camaro SS2 with a six speed standard.

    This Camaro stick has nothing in common with any other stick I have driven. For the first week I was afraid to take it in traffic.At first I thought,OMG! what have I done? The more I drove it, the more comfortable it got. Four months later I have it mastered. I love the car and look for excuses to drive it.I even gave up my “man cave” now I can sqweeze two cars into the garage. Winter and Camaro’s dont mix well

    Manual..little advice here. Learn to drive on a rental. Or buy an old beater. However, do learn to drive a stick. Over the years,you might get rusty,but you will never forget.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      mikey…

      Excellent advice to Manual…

      There is another aspect to manual transmissions (MT’s) that hasn’t come up yet in this discussion. And that is RWD.

      When an MT is coupled to RWD, you get a couple more BIG benefits:
      1) Wagging your tail (Yes, both my dog and my car are happy when they are wagging their tails);
      2) Drogue Chute Effect (Downshift on slippery surfaces to augment mild braking).

      You really don’t want to do 2) with FWD because it may destabilize the vehicle, just the opposite of RWD. This phenomenon is so scary with FWD, that it may be responsible for DT instructors teaching their students not to downshift and use only the brakes. So here we have a whole generation of people who believe that downshifting is bad because “replacing brakes is cheaper than rebuilding a gearbox or replacing the engine”! What nonsense. I’ve been driving for more than 50 years and have had ONLY MT’s with ONLY RWD, and have been downshifting happily all that time in so many different vehicles that I can’t count them. NO problems, ever (when done properly with double-clutch rev-matching and not over-revving the engine).

      If we (the auto industry) didn’t get started on this lopsided, imbalanced FWD kick in the 1970’s, perhaps we’d have more people around now who really knew how to drive. You will notice that Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes weren’t deceived. Thank God, we now see a resurgence of RWD Mustangs and Camaro’s, and Caddy’s, and Chargers, and Chrysler 300’s over here..

      Sorry, I get carried away……

      ————–

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        You are right about slippery surfaces. When I had the 325i 5-speed, I was amazed at how controllable the car was in snow, even on barely all-season tires.

      • 0 avatar
        Brendon from Canada

        NMGOM – any reason to double clutch in a modern vehicle? I just rev-match and haven’t had any (known!?) problems in the last 15 or so years of MT driving…

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hi Brendon…

        Well, it’s a little complicated. The comment from “icemilkcoffee” down below addresses this issue very nicely.

        As it turns out, synchronizers are not perfect. Some are really good, like the cup-and-cone from Porsche. Some are disks. Some are plates with lips. Some are made from soft-metal alloys; some are made out of brass or copper. Some engage rapidly and respond well with force; others get “overridden” and unfortunately allow dog-pegs to clash. Some work better warm (hot); some seem to do OK cold. (Reality: no manual transmission works REALLY well ice cold!)

        So, yes, it always helps upon downshifting to just pass through neutral with a brief “rest”, or even double-clutch (depending on speed differences); but it may or may not help upon upshift depending on ambient temperature. If it’s very cold, “resting” in neutral on the way to the next higher gear MAY help, but that can be foregone when the transmission warms up and gaps close from thermal expansion. And there is the matter of the type of manual transmission oil you use, and its film strength, wear inhibitors, and viscosity ratings…and how often you change it. I use synthetic Mobil 1 75W-90, but there are other good choices too, like Red Line:
        http://www.redlineoil.com/product.aspx?pid=133&pcid=4

        It also really depends upon how your particular transmission is made, and as “icemilkcoffee” suggests, generally you will notice the difference when doing these procedures. More importantly, you will be reducing wear that pays dividends many years and thousands of miles later. I mean thousands, as in hundreds of thousands.

        When I gave up my 1974 Dodge D100 Club Cab, with 225,000 miles and 22 years on it, the new owner did a quick access-plate check for the condition inside my NP435 4-speed transmission. Wear? What wear? He extrapolated and estimated it’s good for AT LEAST 1,000,000 miles,— far beyond intended use.

        —————-

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Going uphill in a FWD MT is far better and safer than RWD. Going down hill depends on the grade, the slipperiness and level of engine breaking. Generally dropping one gear and keeping things smooth while letting the clutch out will not get you into trouble.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Beerboy12….

        Gee, I’ve never had an unsafe situation going UP a hill. Most of my truly unsafe situations seemed to be going DOWN a hill, especially icy ones (^_^)…

        Actually, I think you may be remembering FWD vs RWD in the early days of FWD. But now, with cars that have better weight balance, traction control, and stability control, you can get all the traction and safety you might want going up a hill with a modern RWD vehicle, WHILE still having the drogue-chute effect available for going downhills, something that I wouldn’t dare attempt with FWD.

        ————

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Brendon, the main reason to double-clutch in a manual transmission with synchronizers would be on something like a high incoming speed 5-2 downshift to go around a curve on a race course. If you double-clutch, you are less likely to upset the balance of the car going around that curve.

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    Saw a video the other day where a carjacker was foiled and ran off because he couldn’t drive a stick. I have an auto in my truck now and miss the stick. Have a manual in the car which I drive all the time. Given a choice I will always take the stick. Making the car more resistant to theft is a winner. The fun driving is over the top.

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    Q: What other cool things can you do with a manual transmission?
    A1: Impress women with your auto accumen.
    A2: Get out of snow (or other slippery situations) better.
    A3: Rev your engine at an intersection.
    A4: Drive more effienciently by up-shifting extremely early.
    A5: Chirp your tires easily.
    A6: Less dangerously turn off your engine while coasting in the Mountains.
    A7: Engine brake in turns and exit them ON IT!

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Here are a few more unique tricks of sticks…

    1) Labor hours are cheaper for transmission replacement.

    2) Lower servicing costs if you are a long-term keeper (in most cases)

    3) The cool factor

    4) If you do a ton of driving one the interstates and winding one lane roads that are 50+ mph, sticks enrich what may otherwise be a boring experience.

    5) Just the natural act of shifting a vehicle makes you less fearful of personally handling the mechanical maintenance for that vehicle.

    6) A wagon instantly becomes sporty instead of dowdy.

    7) Owners of sticks on average tend to be more sensitive to their car’s overall condition and catch little things before they become big.

    8) Stickshifts convey a level of self-reliance to other people that an old automatic column shifter simply can’t replicate.

    9) The spread in price between manual transmission model year close-outs and automatic models is simply enormous. We’re talking a $3000 to $5000 spread if you’re buying a new non-sporty vehicle (like a 2012 Accord).

    I’ll leave #10 to the B&B since driving in metro-Atlanta has made me too stick averse in my slowly creeping middle age. The only thing I like to shift these days is my seat position.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      Driving in Atlanta is an argument for automatics. There seems to be some law that the majority of red lights will include a minimum 30° incline. Maybe it’s my slow reflexes, or just years of driving in flat Florida, but I always seemed to roll backwards way too far before I could engage the clutch.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Geekcarlover,

        Imagine how stick-shift owners in San Francisco must feel!

        When you buy a car with a manual transmission in those cases, make sure that the first gear is geared LOW (meaning a numerically high number), and you won’t have any problems. I remember my 1968 VW Beetle was that way, and starting on a hill was no issue whatsoever. On the other hand, an older Volvo I drove was geared so high that hills were to be avoided altogether. Gearing makes a big differnece, as does the type of clutch: heavy duty, single or multi-plate, etc..

        But don’t think that automatics are free of added wear-and-tear on hills: they are not. Steep hills are hard on all transmissions (and engines). It’s just that with an automatic, the wear-and-tear and discomfort are more hidden and come back to bite you later….big time!

        ———–

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        That’s what the handbrake is for. I never had much problem with rolling backwards on hills before, but Hyundai must have gone on a major friction-reduction campaign in the MC Accent gearbox. That one rolls backwards from a light breeze, so I had to teach myself how to do handbrake starts. I knew the general idea, but never practiced it before.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Some new cars–MINI for one–have hill assist. On an incline, release the brake and it stays engaged until the clutch engages. Makes hilly cities much more driveable. I don’t want to think about the results, and costs, when the system fails though.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Real world Ford truck example of repair cost comparison. Same shop, M5OD (M/T), $375 to rebuild, E4OD (A/T), $1400.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        +1

        I’ve never had to replace a clutch and/or manual transmission until 120k miles (or far more), and the cost of replacing the transmission was a literal fraction of what an automatic would have cost.

  • avatar
    raph

    Hmmmm… I wonder how well the MT82 in the 5 liter stangs powershifts? The TR6060 is fine with it though.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Holding on a hill? Use the hand brake. Or, if you don’t mind buying clutch’s, hold it with the clutch.

    • 0 avatar

      No, you don’t have to do that…the trick is to coordinate your feet so your clutch begins to engage as you take your other foot off the brake and hit the gas….gently! Takes patience but unless your car is a total POS it can be mastered.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Hand break / e-break every time. Unless you are lucky to have hill start assist, I do but still prefer the hand break.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      “Holding on a hill? Use the hand brake.”

      NO WAY!, the hold with the clutch thing is even worse.

      Learn how to coordinate clutch take out with throttle application. I had to, driving everyday on a heavy incline everyday… and then I taught my sister how to do it.

      It is not that hard.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I don’t understand the hand brake trick either. Sounds like it is over complicating the process.

        Another point is a little rollback is acceptable. I think it’s rare that the car behind you is within a foot. Just don’t panic when the car starts to roll and focus on your footwork. You don’t have to be perfect and prevent the car from rolling at all. If a little roll makes the driver behind you a little nervous, all the better.

  • avatar

    Not a trick,but a plus.
    Fewer people know how to drive sticks so there’s less likelihood of your car being stolen.
    Anecdotal,to be sure,but a decade ago I had my manual Saturn broken into,and after breaking steering column to get it started,he/she/they couldn’t figure out how to get it to move,so they abandoned it. Don’t know how offended I should have been that they didn’t bother taking the factory stereo ;)

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      I never wanted my kids friends to drive our cars and MTs solved the problem.

      My first car was a used ’66 Dodge Polara. It didn’t even have a radio. I put in an 8 track (artifact of almost pre-history). A few years later it was stolen. The 8 track was the only thing taken and the only damage was the ignition. I wasn’t offended, just relieved to get it back.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I am amazed nobody has mentioned this, but to drive a stick shift correctly- which most people can’t do, including those who vehement insists on driving stick shift cars- you need to learn to do double-clutching. You see, the manual transmission is a very stupid device. It rubs together two brass cones in order to equalize speeds between gears. When you rub something together often enough- they wear out. When you shift too fast, the brass cones can’t synchronize well enough and you end up grinding the dog-teeth. In order to avoid this, you need to learn to double-clutch. You need to learn the rpm vs mph for each gear. And then when you shift from one gear to the next, you stop in neutral, let out the clutch, rev the engine to the correct rev for the next gear, push in the clutch again and shift to the next gear. When upshifting, you could also just pause briefly and let the transmission oil slow down the gear train for you. Once you get used to it, you could do a downshift lightning fast while double-clutching.

    As I said- most people never learned how to do this. They will of course dismiss it. Since they don’t know how to do it, it must be pointless.

    Just like most people don’t know how to shift a motorcycle transmission. You see them using the clutch and jabbing and crashing through the gears. But that’s another lesson for another time.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      What’s the benefit of stopping in neutral and letting the clutch pedal up as opposed to matching engine speed to road speed while you have the clutch disengaged? Wouldn’t that get the same result in fewer steps?

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Doing what you described would make for a smooth clutch engagement when you let out the clutch and save on clutch wear. However it does nothing for the synchros. The purpose of stopping in neutral and letting out the clutch, and then revving the gear train to the correct speed, before shifting into gear, is to avoid wear to both the synchros, and the clutch.

        In practice, you only need to do this on downshifts. On upshifts, all you have to do is just pause briefly in neutral (you don’t have to let out the clutch). Get the timing right, and you can feel the shifter go in smoothly and easily.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      icemilkcoffee….

      +1 Amen!

    • 0 avatar
      KrohmDohm

      @icemilkcoffee – Don’t the synchros in modern manual transmissions negate the need to double clutch on every shift? Don’t unsynchronized transmissions only remain in commercial or highly specialized trucks? i.e. Dump Trucks and the like?
      As long as you don’t insist on slamming into gear or trying to speed shift, even when going down a gear shouldn’t the synchros handle the load fine? I’m not a mechanic but have driven several manual trans cars and have never worn out a clutch or transmission by not double clutching.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Right, that’s correct. The main reason to double-clutch would be what I mentioned above regarding a 5-2 downshift on a race course. The synchros are made of brass and are designed to do exactly this.

        The synchros, incidentally, are protecting the dog-teeth from the shifter to the output shaft. When you “grind the gears,” you aren’t literally grinding the input gear and output gear because those gears are in constant mesh, but rather the synchors/dog-teeth.

    • 0 avatar
      stottpie

      i like to be able to shift without the clutch. on my 84 mustang svo, i’ve snapped the clutch cable before. you can get home though without the clutch.

      the tricky part is getting going from a stop.

      —-

      at my work we get test vehicles, many are manuals. it’s easy to tell who drives manuals for their DD’s. note how people use second gear, slipping the clutch, and rev matching, especially when coming up to a slow right turn.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yes, the people who drive manuals for DDs can probably better merge smoothly into a roundabout with a manual. Very useful skill if you rent a car in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      modelt1918

      Icemilkcoffee-Double clutching is a very important thing to learn if you are a truck driver.Way too hard for most folks to learn however.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’ve been driving stick/manuals since the mid 80s and never double clutched either. Well expect for the one time my Prelude was leaking clutch fluid and needed to be “pumped” between shifts to build up enough pressure in the system to fully engage the clutch. I shifted my older Honda’s without the clutch by rev matching when I was bored and just cruising, its something you can’t do if your rushing things or on the accelerator hard. As such I wouldn’t darn try such a stunt with my Z as the difference in speed could easily cause the rear-end to break lose.

    The thing I like most about a manual is the level of control you have, I can put the car in the correct gear for any situation. I can save fuel with quick upshifts and limiting my downshifts or I can punch it up to redline and leave a layer of rubber behind if desired. A well timed shift just feels so good, especially if you car has good clutch feel and a nice shifter. Hard to beat Hondas in this regard. My Z’s shifter has a tight bolt-like action to it, but the clutch is a bit heavy and the throttle tip in is pretty aggressive. My wife’s Volvo has a really weak clutch but the shifter is OK. Our old VW Passat had a smooth clutch but the shifter was rubbery. Each car is different and a manual transmission really highlights these differences.

  • avatar
    DrSandman

    Another cool thing about learning to drive stick — it shows that you have achieved minimal competence with things that make a man a gentleman.

    If any boy ever shows up at my door thinking he’s going to take my beautiful girl out for a date, he better be man enough to drive a stick! No weenie metrosexual, bus-rider for my precious girls.

    No, I didn’t forget the /sarc tag. Deadly serious.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @DrSandman…Many years ago daughter #2 had a boyfriend,with a drinking problem,and a Berreta GT? stick. I couldn’t stand the guy. But I gave her basic stick training with my buddies old Chevette.

      I didn’t care if she ripped the drunks clutch out,”you drive it, if he is drunk”.

      She mastered it then dumped him.

  • avatar
    George B

    One of the cool things about all manual transmissions is really effective engine braking and coasting. Because you have control of the clutch, taking your foot off the accelerator causes the engine to slow down the car. If you want the car to coast, push in the clutch.

    The other thing cool about manual transmissions is they generally don’t wear out from lack of use. An old car with a manual can sit around without having to worry about seals, transmission fluid, etc. going bad.

    If a manual transmission fails, transmission and clutch replacement is a potential DIY job. Automatic transmissions are too heavy and complicated for an individual to wrench on without help.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Learning manual is worth it. Take it slow though. Focus on smooth rather than speed and cool. Speed and cool comes with time and practice.
    Don’t give up.

  • avatar
    Monty

    All hail the manual transmission. I don’t care if it provides better gas mileage, if it’s synchro or not, if it’s a guard against theft – I just prefer the manual for feeling far more coneected with my vehicle. We have four vehicles in the stable now, and they’re all manuals. Learned to drive on a 3-on-the-tree non-synchro first ’48 Dodge farm truck. Awesome experience.

    Learn how to double-clutch, and you’ll extend the life of the transmission, plus be able to drive a much larger vehicle that probably isn’t synchronized.

    Plus, the chicks dig it.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Bump starting is one of the most beautiful things about manuals. I’ve had somebody burn out my alternator because he didn’t hook up the cables properly when I came to give him a jump.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    No automatic transmission computer in the world knows what I’m ABOUT to do with the car. I.E. there is a hill coming up and a downshift will be needed.

    Also, when driving an MT AWD on snow or ice, downshifting is far more effective than the best ABS brakes due to the forward assist preventing any wheel lock.

    Also, drifting.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Why do you all insist that a stickshift is the best thing in the world, when it is a burden for 98% of the driving time? For instance, trying to shift, smoke a cigarette, and balance a cup of coffee or donut in the other hand is really difficult. But it can be done. Ask me how I know…

    One of the really cool things about an automatic is you can put it in drive and that leaves a free hand for texting, and another free hand for adjusting your hair in the mirror.

    Personally, I find them a great time saver. When I’m running late for work I can easily use the electric razor or even my electric toothbrush. Sometimes both, but probably not at the same time, again. Ask me how I know.

    Automatics FTW!

  • avatar
    spartan_mike

    +1 on the theft deterrent.

    I had a friend who got carjacked in Flint at a self-serve carwash. The car was a ’78 Z28 with a 4-speed manual if I remember correctly. The carjacker started getting into the car and yelled “STICK” to his partner and they ran off.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      When I first read your post, I mistakenly read the car as a 1978 Nissan 280Z manual.

      That got me all got and bothered.

      I WILL have either a 280Z or 240Z manual in mint condition one day.

  • avatar
    RogueInLA

    1 ‘trick’ with a stick… start an older Mercedes diesel in reverse, by which I mean the engine running in reverse. I was riding with a friend when he stalled his mercedes on a steeep hill. He put it in what he thought was reverse (four on the column) let it roll backwards and dropped the clutch. Turns out it was in a forward gear, and when the engine started it was going VERY fast backwards. Fortunately it was a long straight stretch of road, and he got the clutch in and stopped, then held the brakes and let out the clutch to kill the engine. It smoked like a fiend, per the Mercedes mechanic his father took it to, it was sucking up the crankcase oil and burning that to run in reverse. I remember it was not something I’d care to repeat.

  • avatar
    Gone4Day

    Surprised nobody mentioned hole shots yet. That’s when you rev up the engine and drop the clutch. Lots of fun but tough on equipment.

  • avatar
    claytori

    So many comments, so little time… Someone actually tried to steal a Saturn? This is one of the least stolen cars going (hence ultra low insurance rates). I haven’t found double clutching necessary unless dealing with worn synchronizers, or on the track to control balance. I have had to drive a couple of times with no clutch due to broken cable or loss of hydraulics. Once for over 300 miles (all freeway). Rev matching is essential. Startup is done with the motor off in 2nd gear.

    If you don’t want to spring for a hybrid and you want to do some “hypermiling” techniques, the MT is essential.

    In Toronto there is one driving school call “Shifters” that specializes in teaching the MT. Maybe there are some in other cities. I used them (Carlos Tomas)for my son, and the success was much better than I had. But it is difficult for any dad to get anything into a 15-19 year old male skull. I taught both my wife and my sister without incident, and maybe a couple of other people. Hint: have your student take off their shoes. It is easier to feel the friction point. A very large empty parking lot is essential.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    I feel like I am in a manual transmissions support group. Totally awesome. I think it’s already been implied, but for manual transmission, any and all acceleration is fully intended!

    As for push starting, I’ve done it once with a 1987 Integra (fuel injection) and it works. A second time, I didn’t have room to push start (I was in the city). So I hailed a cab and offered $5 for a jump start. Sooo much faster than waiting for AAA and this trick will work for automatics too ;)

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      This article was a long time coming.

      In fact, an article that thoroughly compares and contrasts the experience of driving a manual and automatic is due, if only to entice even 1 unfortunate soul who has never had the opportunity and pleasure of driving a manual gearbox equipped vehicle (i.e. the real kind, with a foot operated, hydraulic clutch– not some flappy hand pedal lameness) to give it a whirl.

      We keepers of the flame must not let it die.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Maybe “Car and Driver” magazine should use some of these comments to support its “Save-The-Manual’s” campaign…?
    It’s a shame that not many other car-enthusiast magazines, or other leading automotive publications, are addressing this issue. Some were even trumpeting the alleged virtues of EV’s, which we all know are few to non-existent, as the market place seems to be confirming.

    Not to get off-topic, but if the future of realistic car-propulsion rests with CNG and Hydrogen, my great hope is that ICE’s and manual transmissions may always be a part of that picture.

    ————–

  • avatar
    modelt1918

    Do you have the art of manual transmission shifting down? Know how to double clutch, heel and toe etc? Now, go learn how to drive a Model T. It is really easy once you learn how but,the learning curve can be difficult.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Years ago I owned a 1965 Malibu with the Powerglide . I seem to remember hearing somewhere that the Powerglide could be push-started , just like a stick , though I don’t recall ever trying this myself . One more plus of driving a stick : I remember when the speedometer failed on my stick-shift Saturn was able to gauge my speed by memorizing what the speeds were in different gears by the r.p.m.s on the tach. I must have driven the thing for a year and a half like this, and probably 35k miles .

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Another nod in the manual’s favor is the type of car; meaning…..

    Shelby GT500…. manual only.
    Corvette ZR1…. same thing
    REAL Nissan Skyline GTR’s (not that POS new pretender).. stick only.

    I’m sure there’s more, but you get the general idea.

    Also some cars are just better with it…. V8 Mustangs, Camaro SS, Corvettes, Porches, GTi’s, Miatas…. ect. A automatic Miata just seems so….. wrong.

    Plus somebody brought up the issue of a deficient car…. too true. I had a ’97 Ranger with a 2.3; with an automatic. It was a total slug…. I actually liked the truck itself fine…. but it was too slow… eventually traded it on a ’01 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner V6 5 speed, much better, and fun too! A stick shift would have made the Ranger at least bearable. A 20 second quarter mile is bad…. plus merging onto a California freeway was crap inducing scary.

    Even to this day and even with my automatic 4Runner, I find my other foot tapping the imaginary clutch pedal from time to time.

  • avatar
    snabster

    What is this “automatic” everyone keeps talking about? Very confused. Some sort of new-fangled clutch? amazing idea but no real practical application.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      It’s a device conceived in sin, which was sold as a lie (i.e. “convenience”), and that has been a huge contributing factor to the fall of civilization.

      It’s akin to riding Secretariat on a waterbed posturing as a saddle.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    What is neat is having a wife who also likes sticks. The last two cars she picked out were stick shifts. Now her knee is bad and I have wound up driving her all around but that isn’t her fault. OTOH my truck is automatic with overdrive and I sure would rather have a 5 speed.

  • avatar
    cashrc

    Every car we own is a manual..my 06 Focus ST, Wife’s Acura, and our Studebaker Hawk. The Hawk is a 61 model, Stude 289 with a 3-on-the-tree with electric overdrive. The O/D workss in 2nd AND 3rd gears, effectively making it a 5 speed. The 289 has enough torque to pull away from a stop in 2nd, and I can drive it around town like an old Powerglide, leaving her in 2nd gear and letting the O/D shift up automatically. I can cruise down the hwy at 70 at around 2400 rpm in 3rd o/d too.
    My wife, who likes to drive stick, had never, ever driven a 3 on the tree, nor has she driven anything as old as the Hawk. One day, we took the Hawk out to give Teresa some 3 speed/classic car seat time..we had our 7 year old, Grace, buckled down in the back seat. we had told Grace that we would hit Chick Fil’A after Teresa’s lesson. I pulled out behind the house, drove the car slowly, letting Teresa see where the gates were on the column shift..all the while I was giving her the “this car is 50 years old and you’ve NEVER driven all-wheel-drum brakes before” safety briefing. We then proceeded to the high school parking lot, where we swapped seats, and Teresa started driving. Now, bear in mind that Grace knew that we would be heading in to Chick Fil’A for refreshments as soon as we were done, and I’m pretty sure whe could taste that chocolate shake already. So, after 2-3 laps around the lot, Grace exclaims “daddy, I’m scared”. I looked back at her and she was GRINNING..after 3 more laps she stated that she was going to throw up…I eyeballed her and asked if she still wanted her shake, to which she replied, “Yes!”
    Little sneak…:) Anyway, my wife now knows the basics of driving a 3-on-the-tree. And my little girl has proven to me she’s quite the actor.

  • avatar
    Sooke

    I left the lights on and fell asleep at a rest stop on I-5 in my 93 Nissan Altima. I managed to break the timing belt trying to bump start it. It never ocurred to me until reading these posts that the car wouldn’t have started anyway because the electric fuel pump and the computer were dead.

    Lesson learned, I now pack booster cables in the spare tire well.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “Powershifting: Awesome, but only a bright idea if you have a gearbox that can handle it. Back in the day, I remember the LT-1/LS-1 Camaros where happier than a pig in poop when you’d powershift their T-56 gearboxes. Mustangs with T-5 and T-45 gearboxes? Not so much. Honda Tunerbois? Never.”

    I regularly (read daily) powershifted a car I had. Never broke the tranny, and I missed a couple of shifts at 6K. I also hit the limiter a couple of times. Not an easy (or cheap) skill to hone.

    Gave me a new respect for Peugeot derived drivetrains.


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