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WRX_JUNKI 10-25-2005 10:42 PM

First Stick Car
I will be getting my WRX end of this week. This is my first stick car. I learned how to drive in stick in one day and well practiced on test drive cars at the dealers.
Would be nice if I can get some good pointers on do's and dont's.
Maybe point me in the direction of a good guide.
Lastly, what is "launching"?

awd>fwd 10-25-2005 10:45 PM

Man talk about one of the hardest sticks to learn on! I had a Toyota 4runner with a 5 speed in it and it was the easiest stick I have ever driven and I had a little trouble the first day or 2 with my rex. Launching is when you revv your engine high enough for your turbo to spool (3,500 rpms roughly) and you let out your clutch then to get a great start, not great for the clutch but it gets good times and you can beat almost anything off the line. Dont try to shift too fast at first just take it slow and get used to the clutch and have fun with it. Trust me as you get better the car gets faster and faster!

WRX_JUNKI 10-25-2005 10:55 PM

Does the short throw shifter help a lot?

awd>fwd 10-25-2005 11:00 PM

You can get from gear to gear faster but I would think that if you are new it would be easier to mistake 5th for 3rd or 4th for 2nd. I would get the short shift kit later on once you are used to the car.

WRXforME 10-26-2005 06:44 AM

Launching is what AWD cars are best at. From a stop, AWD cars are very fast because they dont waste time spinning tires. To launch, rev your car to 4500(thats what I go to), then when you are ready to launch, slowly let the clutch out. As you let it out, the RPMs will start to drop, so you have to give it more gas and you have to keep the RPMs at or near 4500. They shouldnt go far below it. It takes a bit of practice, especially if you are new at stick. I wouldnt suggest doing it until you get some practice. You dont want to launch a new car anyway, break it in first.


WRX_JUNKI 10-26-2005 02:13 PM

Oh I was just curious as to what it was. Thought it was just dropping the clutch while revving @ a high rpm. Thanks for clearing that up.

genkidama20 10-26-2005 04:15 PM

^ Yeah, that's pretty much what it is :p (except don't just "drop" it, quickly and SMOOTHLY let off)

My05WRX 10-26-2005 10:58 PM

My first stick car was a WRX. So tough to learn on, i made an ass out of myself taking it to school the first day i got it.
I wouldnt advise "launching" until you have driven the car for a while and have a good feel for the clutch. If you try it too early you are bound to burn up the clutch too much or bust the tranny.
Good luck!

Nose Nuggets 10-27-2005 12:41 PM

Here are Tristanís tips for the manual transmission newbster.

Alrighty, first step the car;
There are two key elements you want to include in your donor transmission. The first being old, you donít really wana teach yourself on someone brand new tranny. Second being the engine itís connected too. The higher horse power engine, the easier it will be to learn. This is within reason of course, ideal would be in the three to four hundred range. The reason for this is the ability to start easier in higher gears, and be able to stay in higher gears at lower speeds.

First time behind the wheel;
Ok. Before turning on the car, make sure the gear leaver is in the neutral position, it should rock left and right freely. Also make sure the parking brake is on. Put your right foot on the brake, and your left on the clutch peddle. Depress the clutch fully, and keep good pressure on the brake. Now run yourself through all the gears slowly, first, second all the way through the tree, to get a good feel for the throw, or distance between each gear on that particular shifter. Donít forget to get reverse, some shifters have buttons or pressure actuated levers to open a gate that allows you to choose reverse, you donít want to be struggling to find this in an emergency.

Start er up;
Itís best to start off with the actual driving portion in a wide open, very forgiving area of pavement. Maybe an empty lot or parking area. The best are old, unused parking areas because they donít usually have the little concrete blocks at the end of each parking stall.
Ok, now, like before, make sure the parking brake is on, the shifter in is neutral and you have both the brake and the clutch depressed, and start the car. With the car running, and neutral selected, you can remove your foot from the clutch, and the brake as long as you are on a flat surface. The car will run for as long as it has gas with no gear selected.

The friction point;
Every clutch has a friction point, its some portion of the clutch peddles rang of motion that engages with the transmission to allow you to change gears. All cars are a little different, so to get comfterble, depress the clutch all the way, and select first gear and release the parking brake. Now, unlike neutral, if you release the clutch, the car will buck and rock and stall, and you will have to start over. This will most likely happen a lot while your learning, itís not terrible for the car, but itís not good so try to stay focused. With first selected, and the clutch in and the parking brake off, and your foot off the brake, slowly start to release the clutch, and I mean REALLY SLOWLY! As SOON as you start to feel the car want to move forward by itself, push the clutch all the way back in. Now do the same thing again, slowly release the clutch until the car starts to move forward, and quickly put the clutch back in. The point along the clutches throw when it started to move forward is the start of the clutches friction point. This is the only portion of the clutches throw that does anything at all, apart from that, itís either engaged (depressed) or disengaged (not depressed).

Now its time to drive, do what you did before, except select second gear, (NOTE: if you are trying this out on a car with less then 100 horse power, I would suggest leaving it in first gear. This is where a high horse power car becomes a nice learning tool) and start to let the clutch out slowly, the car might not budge at all when you get to the friction point, depending on how much power the car has, when your foot gets roughly to the same spot the car WAS moving forward at, add a TINY! Bit of throttle (the peddle on the right). Ok, you should be rolling, good start. Keep the car going really slow. It should be obvious that the throttle is really sensitive in first gear, compared to an automatic. This is where a really bad habit can rear its ugly head, try your very best to be smooth with all the cars inputs, that includes the steering wheel and the peddles. Think of the peddles as volume knobs, not on and off, or go and stop switches, this will make you a better and safer driver.

Once the car gets to about three thousand RPMís (revolutions per minute) put the clutch in, take your foot off the throttle, select the next gear, and gradually release the clutch, it should take you about 2 seconds, and while you release the clutch, smooth it out with a touch of throttle. If this if your very first time, you might be jerking around and having trouble, this is normal for a lot of people. I have had people throw up there arms and give up 10 minutes into the driving portion of a school. Just stick with it, and you will pick it up.

This is significantly harder to get down, and there are a couple different ways to do it. But youíre new, so we will focus on the easiest. A single clutch downshift. So, youíre driving along, maybe in third gear, and youíre coming to a turn, a lot of people just push the clutch in, turn the wheel, and try to figure out there downshifting and throttle on the way out. Thatís bad form. Before you enter the turn, you want to get your downshifting taken care of. The best way I have found for new stick drivers is to separate the braking and the downshifting until you get more comfortable with the concept. So, get going at a descent pace in third gear, pretend there is a turn in front of you if your in an open lot, and start to brake, when you have slowed down to the point where the car has a low rpm, put the clutch in, select the next gear down, and as you release the clutch, smooth it out with a little throttle. As you turn the car, you want to keep a little throttle, just a little. The car is much more stable under acceleration then it would be if you put the clutch in and just used the cars inertia to roll through the turn. If you want, you can start adding a little throttle once youíre more then 50% the way through the turn. Again, volume knobs. Gradually roll on throttle as you unwind the wheel. You can think of your foot and your steering wheel being connected with a string. When the wheel is straight you can get to full throttle, but when itís turned, you can only get a little throttle. So as you unwind the wheel, gradually roll on the power.

-Advanced techniques-

Heal toe downshifting;
After you experiment with the above scenario a bit you might come to the realization that braking and then downshifting a lot of the time leads to needing more braking again before turning. The easiest remedy for this is to do both and the same time, yes thatís braking and downshifting simultaneously. Itís not nearly as hard as it may sound, unless you have a really old car or very small feet. The idea is to keep the left side if your right foot on the brake and still being able to touch the throttle right the right side your right foot by dipping your knee and pivoting the right blade of your foot downward. You might wana try this out stopped before you get rolling. Turn on the car, leave it in neutral with the parking brake on and apply the brake. With good brake pressure, dip the right side of your foot to give the throttle a good blip. Try stabbing it and revving it to three or four thousand rpm. The main objective is to maintain constant brake pressure, while blipping the throttle. If its flat, release the parking brake and have a friend try to push the car while you practice holding the brake and blipping. Ok, letís get moving. Get going again at a fairly good rate in third gear, start to apply brake pressure, now depress the clutch, and select the lower gear, before your start to release the clutch, blip the throttle.

Double clutch downshifting;
Ok, I wouldnít read any further unless you have a really smooth heal toe downshift under your belt. Contrary to popular Fast and the Furious doctrine, there is no such thing as a double clutch up shift. Well, I suppose thatís not entirely true, you could absolutely double clutch on an up shift, but it would be a complete waste of time, effort, and available power, and would significantly reduce your rate of acceleration. A double clutch downshift on the other hand is a very real and very well known technique for any half descent race car driver. The idea behind the double clutch downshift is to further smoothen the downshifting process. Simply put, if the clutch is not in when you blip the throttle, there are more parts of the transmission (the lay shaft) increasing in speed to catch up with the lower gear closely following said blip. The process has a few more steps the then above single clutch downshift it is as follows;

Current gear -> clutch in -> neutral -> clutch out -> blip throttle -> clutch in -> select lower gear -> clutch out

The whole process shouldnít take more then a second or two once you have it down. The main advantage to correctly downshifting with a blip is the fact that you donít really ďuseĒ the clutch at all. Youíre just engaging and disengaging it. With the proper double clutch downshift you should be able to release the clutch instantly once you are in gear. If you have to ease it out because its griping then you did it wrong, and probably need to blip higher. If the car lurches forward when you release the clutch, youíre blipping a little too high. Better to blip too high then to low though.

Ok. I typed this out rather quickly because i am at work. There are probably typos and spelling errors, if something isnít clear, please feel free to ask questions.

mosc 10-27-2005 02:02 PM

dude, if you have less than 200 miles stick driving, do yourself a favor and get a rent-a-car or something to drive around in for a couple of days. The WRX is not a simple stick and it has enough power to do damage. Don't launch or try to race it until you can drive it smoother than you could an automatic.

Rain_Racer 10-27-2005 03:29 PM

150,000 miles + of Stick driving experience... I died once at a stop light the first day I had the WRX... it is the hardest to drive car I have ever driven. Good luck :D

Moe 10-27-2005 04:05 PM

Thats why I might still get an AUTO whenever I get my WRX in a couple of months or in a year..So I don't have to worry about all that stuff and I know an auto is slower but hey it's way easy!

WRX_JUNKI 10-27-2005 05:18 PM

I learned on an Acura CL and the shifting was a lot smoother but besides the fact that they don't shift smooth. I didn't find it hard to drive at all. Although, I am no expert at driving it. Thanks for the long post. Seems like until I put it to test I won't understand it.
I usually come to a stop sign with the clutch in and in neutral, is this a bad habit?
Should I be downshifting instead?

Nose Nuggets 10-27-2005 06:19 PM

[QUOTE=WRX_JUNKI]I learned on an Acura CL and the shifting was a lot smoother but besides the fact that they don't shift smooth. I didn't find it hard to drive at all. Although, I am no expert at driving it. Thanks for the long post. Seems like until I put it to test I won't understand it.
I usually come to a stop sign with the clutch in and in neutral, is this a bad habit?
Should I be downshifting instead?[/QUOTE]

Well first off you donít need the clutch in, and the car in neutral. I wouldnít necessarily say itís a bad habit, but there is a better way to drive. I would suggest learning to do it correctly, you will be a better driver.

Moe: Anything worth it isnít easy, and anything easy isnít worth it. Your purchasing a performance vehicle, why waste all that fabulous engineering by letting a computer drive it for you. Not only will you become a better driver, you will become a safer driver. You as a driver have worlds more control over the key aspects of the vehicle with a manual transmission then you ever could with an automatic.

WRX_JUNKI 10-28-2005 12:50 AM

What would be the correct way of approaching a stop sign? By downshifting?

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