How to Drive a Manual Transmission – Complete Process

Last updated on August 7th, 2023 at 12:30 pm

We are living in a world where technology is moving faster than ever. Some might say learning how to drive a manual transmission or stick shift is a old school thought. But it doesn’t mean that you or I have to go with the flow. There are zillions of people who still love old stuff.

Loving manual cars is one of those passions. The world will be full of automatic cars, but for some, the love for manual cars or stick shift will never die.

Why still people choose manual cars or stick shift will be a problem for some of them. The truth is, learning how to drive stick comes with more fun and challenge. Unlike focusing only on the steering wheel, which what happens in an automatic car, learning how to drive a manual transmission will make you an expert in the field.

If you are a movie lover, you might have seen the movies with car races like Fast and Furious, Ford and Ferrari, Need for Speed, and much more. What makes us thrilled when a character wins the final track is when (s)he changes the gear at the end. That feeling is beyond explanation. So, learning how to drive stick shift is not only challenging; it also gives you the real feeling of being a driver.

Getting to know how to drive a stick comes with a little bit of training. In automatic cars, there is nothing much to learn. Those cars are invented to make your life ease. But, I believe that one’s bravery, talent, patience, and focus come with a driving stick. But keep in your mind that as learning how to drive a manual transmission comes with practice, you need to pay attention to some basic background stuff.

Before starting anything straight away, it’s best to have some detailed knowledge in driving stick to avoid many problems.

So, first, we are going to guide you from easy steps on how to drive a manual transmission along with some basic knowledge, which will help you to how to drive stick.

Safety should be your top priority before learning how to drive stick shift. So, before you get your hands on a clutch car on roads, first find an empty parking lot or a vacant ground where you can handle the car without being worried.

Keep in mind that you are going to learn to drive manual. And the best way is to get support from someone who is driving stick (manual) for a while. That person should possess the knowledge of overcoming real-time problems regarding driving a clutch car (manual). If you have any questions regarding the features of the vehicle, don’t hesitate to ask from that person. Ask as many questions so you can become an expert regarding driving a manual car.

Another safety precaution you can follow before learning how to drive a manual transmission is to clear up your mind. When your mind is free, you can learn anything better. So, leave your worries and fears at home because learning how to drive stick shift is not a chance everyone is going to have.

As you are now ready to learn to drive manual, let’s have a guide through over the gears and pedals.

Well, we know that when it comes to learning how to drive stick shift, gears play an essential role. So, let’s have a look at the gear system in manual cars.

If the gear shift is in the center, it means your vehicle is in the neutral position. Usually a clutch car has four to five gears and can be moved from left to right and top to bottom. You can see the first gear in the top left corner of the gear system. Normally, the gear shifts are marked in a clutch car.

Another important feature you should learn before learning how to drive a manual transmission is getting to know the pedals.

Well, a manual car has three pedals, car clutch, gas, and brake.

You can see the car clutch pedal at the leftmost, and this is how a clutch car differs from an automatic car. In the middle, there is the brake, and at the rightmost, you can see the accelerator.

To push the car clutch, you have to use your left foot, and for both brake and the gas, you have to use your right foot. You change the clutch in order to shift gear which makes the vehicle starts to move.

The footing is something you should concern seriously. As a beginner, it is normal to feel that clutch balancing is hard. But don’t give up.

Another important part you should pay attention before learning how to drive stick shift is safety. Let’s take a quick look at how you can ensure your safety before driving stick.

Before everything else, I mean getting your vehicle on the move, take your time to get familiar with the gears. At the beginning, you might feel it’s like a big deal. But, when you get familiar with the gear system of a clutch car, it’s a piece of cake.

You can’t memorize the positions of gears by just looking at them. Ask the person who is teaching you how to drive a manual transmission to make you practice with the gears in the vehicle. This might be the beginning of learning of using the clutch, which will come handy later. Here, by learning how to shift gear, you will pick up that you need to push down the clutch until it reaches the floor to change the gear. With this practice, when you start driving stick, changing gears will be a piece of cake for you.

Now let’s move on to the basic safety measures you can take before keeping your hands on the wheel.

First, arrange your seat position. Your seat should be comfortable enough for you to reach the pedals and gear without any effort. And, the area you chose to practice should be clear from lamp posts, dustbins and also humans. Well, to have a place like this to practice how to drive a manual transmission is highly odd. So, keep in your mind to pay close attention to your surrounding.

Now, let’s move on to the practical side of learning how to drive stick.

  1. First, give the pressure to the clutch until it hits the floor. Then keep your right foot on the brake pedal and make sure the gear is in the initial position.
  2. Turn on the ignition key. Then release the emergency brake or the hand brake.
  3. Thirdly, shift gear to the first, which is at the top right side.
  4. Then remove the right foot from the brake. If your vehicle moves a bit, don’t worry.
  5. Next, take your left foot from the clutch slowly, and in the meantime, begin to give gas (accelerate) delicately using your right foot. This is called clutch balancing, which is the most crucial when it comes to learn to drive manual.
  6. Now, slowly take off your foot from the clutch pedal, and you will notice that your vehicle is moving forward. Keep in your mind, apart from clutch balancing, you can’t keep your feet on both clutch and the accelerator.
  7. Take a look around where there is any barrier around you. If your surrounding is clear, push the gas pedal further, and that’s it.

It’s normal if you can’t get your vehicle moving at first. If you don’t handle the clutch and the gas simultaneously, your vehicle will shudder and stop. Don’t worry; it’s normal for beginners. So what you have to do to get your vehicle on moving is to:

  1. Shift gear to the neutral position.
  2. Do the same mentioned procedure again.

 But, as I mentioned before, clutch balancing is the most important part of learning how to drive a manual transmission. This is what you need to practice to make your vehicle get started. Clutch balancing takes a little bit of time to practice. But it doesn’t mean that it’s complicated. All you have to do is to keep faith in yourself. Great things take time. So, you have to pay more attention to that.

Eventually, you are going to get your vehicle moving, and I know it is going to happen. So, when your car runs at a low speed, it’s time to shift gear. Keep in your mind which gear you are in. As we started from the first gear, now it’s time to move to the second gear.

So, how can I shift gear? Easy

First, take your right foot from the throttle, aka accelerator, while pushing the clutch to the floor.

Then, shift the gear lever from the first gear position to the second gear. Next, as you did before, slowly release the clutch while giving pressure to the accelerator.

Usually, when you speed up your vehicle, you need to go for a higher gear. So, take your foot from the gas and press the clutch to move to a higher gear.

You might be confused when you have to change the gear. Your vehicle’s engine and the speed will guide you to change the gear. For this, you need to patient. You need to hold on because no one gets everything for the first time. It doesn’t matter whether you fail for the ninth time; what matters is trying for the tenth time.


The mentioned steps of moving your car are not hard. All you need is practice. Now let’s look at how to stop your vehicle.

To slow down or to stop the vehicle, you need to pedal down the break slowly. When the vehicle doesn’t move any longer, push down the clutch to the bottom and shift gear to the first of reverse position. Then turn off the ignition.


If you want to reverse the vehicle, it’s the same as moving forward.

You need to push the clutch to the ground, shift gear to reverse. Just like the clutch balancing you did, follow the same process. Make sure the path is clear and start to reverse the vehicle slowly.

But be careful when you reverse because, unlike going forward, reversing needs some practice.


If you want to go down a hill, the process is the same as going forward. But here, you need to shift to a low gear as speed increases in a downhill. Keep in touch with the brake pedal to control the speed of the vehicle.


Let’s say that you need to park your vehicle. What you need to do is to choose where you want to park.

Now, release the gas pedal and keep your foot on the brake and smoothly push it.

Step on the clutch and change the gear to the first and turn off the ignition. Keep in your mind to apply the parking brake.

Some free tips

If you have been driving an automatic car, you might feel driving manual is a bit difficult with gear and clutch. But don’t worry, it’s normal for every beginner. As I mentioned, all you need is some faith and patience.

  • When something unexpected happens, do not panic. It will only make things worse. I know it’s hard to be calm when a dog jumps at you when you are driving the vehicle. But, if you remain calm, the consequences won’t be severe. If something unexpected happens, just hit the clutch and shift the gear in to first or stop your vehicle with a brake.
  • Always remember, it’s okay if the vehicle stalls. You don’t need to give up because what happens to you when you practice happens to another person too. So, don’t worry when the vehicle stalls. All you need is try to better until you succeed in balancing the clutch and the throttle. 
  • Keep your mind focused at the beginning. If you are a daydreamer (like me), you need to control your mind when you drive. Though it’s hard, concentrate on the road and the barriers beside you.
  • Take one thing at a time. Don’t drive fast because, without proper practice, you could cause severe damages if you drive fast. Even after you become an excellent driver, it would be better if you maintain an average speed. This will save a lot of things.

So, this article has provided you everything you need to know regarding how to drive a manual transmission. Go through the guidelines carefully and hope you will master in driving manual car.