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.
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.