Drive a Manual Car

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Where are the controls that you might have to use in your driving:

Knowing where the controls are, and being able to locate and use them without looking away from the road is important.

Remember in each vehicle these controls could be in different places:

  • Washer and wiper, front and back
  • Head lights, high and low beam
  • Hand brake
  • Demisters, front and back
  • Horn
  • Hazard lights
  • Indicators

How to adjust the seat:

When adjusting the seat in the car:

The clutch pedal located on your left, should be depressed in to the floor and the seat adjusted so the left leg has a slight bend in it (about 15 degrees). The leg should not be fully extended.

Push your shoulder into the back of the seat, and put your arms out in front of you at the top of the steering wheel, now adjust the back of the seat so your wrists are on top of the steering wheel rim (not your hand or arm but your wrist).

Most cars now can adjust the height of the steering wheel. Move the steering wheel up or down so you can see the speedo clearly.

How to adjust your mirrors:

The mirrors should be adjusted so when you look into them, you are only moving your eyes not your head.

The centre mirror:

The top of your mirror should run along the top of your back window, you should be able to see the whole back window.

The side mirrors:

On a flat road, you should see road from the middle of the mirror to the bottom of the mirror, and from the middle of the mirror to the top of the mirror you should see houses, trees, sky etc.

The bottom corner near the door of the mirror you should be able to see the back door handle.



In this part of learning you do it until you get it right. You will do lots of driving and hopefully turn action into habits, fix your mistakes. Repetition after repetition, do the same thing hundreds times of the correct repetition. (Sounds like fun doesn’t it).

Learning the basic driving skills

During this stage the focus is on clutch control, gear changes, stopping and starting, acceleration and slowing down and steering (this is the frustrating stage of driving).

Get the licensed driver to drive the car to a clear open road. We need a quiet road with few vehicles – a long straight road is perfect, no intersections.

The safe way to get started

Once a quiet road is found pull over to the side of the road, make the car safe (hand brake on, switch off the car). Change seats so the learner is in the driver’s seat and adjust the seat, mirror and steering wheel as demonstrated in that chapter.

What are these pedals on the floor for?

 Look down at your feet – you will see three pedals. The one on the left is the clutch (in simple terms it basically transmits power from the engine to the wheels). Now that pedal is used by your left leg only – nothing else. The middle pedal is the brake (which stops or slows down the car). That pedal is used by the right leg only. The pedal on the right is the accelerator (which makes the car gather speed, or give it more power) that is also used by the right leg.

The reason why the right leg is used by those pedals is that you are either braking or accelerating – you should not be doing both at the same time. (Stop or go). More important is that your legs hopefully will not get tangled up with each other, if that happens we will be in all sorts of trouble won’t we.

Practise gear changes while the engine is off.

 While the engine is off let’s look at the gear stick and study how we are going to change gears, remember in each car it could be slightly different, your licensed driver will help. It is better to play with them while the engine is off (much safer I think).

Practise going through the gears – first to second, second to third, third to fourth etc. Make sure you’ve got the clutch in when doing this. Keep practising until you can change all the gears without looking at them. Because when we are driving we should be looking at the road not the gear stick. When you are confident with that, then practise going down the gears. Up the gears, and down the gears.

How to hold the gear stick?

With your little finger to the top, and hand to the right side of the gear knob.

1st to 2nd

3rd back to 2nd

2nd back to 1st

Thumb to the top and hand to the other side of the gear knob.

2nd to 3rd gear

3rd to 4th gear

4th back to 3rd gear

Changing up the gears

When we change gears we do so economically, we are not going for best performance (we are on public roads, not a speedway) this is all about safe driving. (Your licensed driver, I’m sure, would like to get home safely after this practise.)

Again different cars may be different but in most cars when changing up you would change gears about 2000 to 2500 revs (most cars now will have a rev counter, a tachometer). At first keep a check with your gauge to tell you when to change gears, but eventually you will change gears by the sound of the engine without looking at the gauge.

When going up the gears you always start in first and go through each gear.

1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd, 3rd to 4th etc. When changing gears get to the correct revs first, then accelerator off with your right foot, then clutch in (it should go down quickly) with your left foot, change to the correct gear then clutch out, (the lower the gear used the slower the clutch pedal is released through the friction point.) Then gently accelerate, one action at a time, but in a smooth flowing action. Pretend you are driving and practise speeding up and changing gears. To ease your stress make the car noise that goes with it. “vroom vroom”. When you feel comfortable practising changing up the gears, and also can change up the gears without looking at the gear stick (we don’t want run off the road when we do it for real) we will practise changing down the gears.

The common errors to look out for when changing up. If you listen to and feel the car, the car will let you know when something is not right. You just need to understand the car’s language.

-Pushing down the clutch too soon before the accelerator is off. The car will rev up; the timing needs to be right. (accelerator off then clutch in) – Changing up too soon. Make sure the revs are right, 2000 to 2500 rev. The engine will labour if the revs are too low for that gear. – Bringing the clutch out too fast. The car may jerk around a bit.

-Accelerating too soon before the clutch is out after we selected the correct gear. (Clutch out than accelerate smoothly).

Changing down the gears.

When changing down the gears you can either go down each gear just like changing up the gears or you can do the one shift change that is changing directly into the correct gear. e.g. 4th gear straight into 2nd gear. You simply do that by reaching the correct speed by braking then select the correct gear – it’s as simple as that. Some drivers like the feel of changing gears and prefer to change down each gear. But Jadsl like to teach the one shift change to save wear and tear on my cars.

Remember the brake and clutch have no direct link, you may still need to brake while you are already pressing the clutch in to change gears.

To change down, brake to the correct speed and only then put your clutch in, change down into the correct gear then clutch out slowly. The lower the gear slower the clutch comes out. If you don’t change at the correct speed you can do damage to the car. Again each car will be different but with most cars you would change down as follows.

4th to 3rd just below 50km

3rd to 2nd just below 40km

2nd to 1st just below 15km

The common errors to look out for when changing down.

-Not braking to the correct speed first. The car will over rev, this can cause damage. -Clutch coming out too fast. The car will jerk around a bit.

-Selecting the wrong gear. The car will rev up or labour. -Accelerating before the clutch is out. The car will rev up.

Starting the car, in a manual car.

Make sure you follow this procedure or else the car will more likely to take off without warning. We don’t want any mishaps yet because at this stage we are doing well.

Press the clutch in (left pedal) with the left leg and hold it down.

Make sure the handbrake is fully on.

Anytime you put your hand brake on always make sure it is fully on, not just partly on. The car may still roll if it is not.

Move the gear stick to neutral

This is the middle position that feels free when moving it from side to side the car is now considered “out of gear”.

Start the engine with the key, by turning the key to the right and when the engine revs up let the key go it will automatically spring back; during all of this remember you still got your clutch fully down.

“Congratulations you have now started the car”.

Make sure the gear stick is still in neutral and hand brake is on; you can now release the clutch and relax for a minute or two. The car should be idling along (there is no hurry).


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Iorwuese Igbayima

This is Good JADSL, we urge you to be more commitment for your services.


Than Igbayima were are ready for good services delivery to our teaming trainee driver’s.