Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!
  • Students Click Here

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

expert street driving manual transmission

expert street driving manual transmission

expert street driving manual transmission

I'm looking for a video etc by authoritative source for "proper" street driving a manual transmission.
There are plenty of you tube videos of real race drivers keeping both hands on the wheel, and steering except when actually shifting, but nothing equivalent for street driving.

A young friend has picked up habits like driving with one hand on the wheel and one on the shifter, or coasting on the straight and thru corners with his foot depressing the clutch.

I don't want to break his heart or hurt his feelings too bad, so I figured some comments on correct street techniques by Jackie Stewart ( I have 3 of his books) or Mario Andretti some other champion known for being easy on his equipment would be nice to slip in his mailbox anonymously. Or, if Mario's video says to coast and keep one hand on the shifter, etc, it will shut me up.


Dan T

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

I don't know that there's a video, but there was live TV coverage of Willy T. Ribbs losing a race by breaking the shift handle off at the root.

For me, replacing my own clutches a few times changed my driving style.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

Just say don't ride the clutch and keep both hands on the wheel...

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

Uh? Standard British driving test. All of the above would be a fail.

- Steve

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

Ask him why he thinks coasting is good under any circumstances.

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

There is actually a discussion on a car forum (STForum.org) that alleges that coasting with the clutch out will put the engine into a overrun fuel shutoff mode and marginally increase mpg over declutching and the engine having to burn fuel to maintain idle speed. Funny thing is, one I had an automatic I tended to rest my hand on the console shifter, not that I have a manual (Focus ST), I use the shifter to change gears then put my hand back on the wheel. Maybe the car brings out my inner Mario Andretti ... Seriously, any number of racing instructors stress smoothness and being in the right gear for maximum performance and component life.

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

<A>" alleges that coasting with the clutch out will put the engine into a overrun fuel shutoff mode"

True, usually

<B>" declutching and the engine having to burn fuel to maintain idle speed."


<C> " <A> marginally increase mpg over<B>"

Ah, much more complex than that. In state A the car is slowing down more rapidly, due to engine braking, so at some point you will have to actually drive more using gas to make up for it. In my many experiments the thing is a total wash in normal driving on the flat. However, when driving down a steep hill at unlimited speed then it is worth knocking it into neutral, but of course that is not a zero risk option. Incidentally driving at high speed with the clutch depressed for long periods is deprecated as the thrust bearing is not actively lubricated, and grease doesn't last forever.


Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

I did say it was an active discussion and may be limited to the stock ECU tune in the Focus ST. Bottom line for me, the clutch is for engaing and changing gears. I idle at a stoplight in neutral, clutch out untiul I see the cross light turn yellow or my light turn green depending on my position in the queue.

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

I don't know if your young friend has learned better ways by now, but it's a very good question you ask.

IME, the racing drivers who can promote the best driving habits will advise on things like double-declutching, using the clutch (vs. not), left-foot braking and other racing-specific things. You might do better consulting European driving instruction sources, as manual transmissions are so prevalent there and driving instruction is vastly better than in the US. (It is ironic, isn't it, that the most car-centric culture in the world has some of the least comprehensive training systems?)

On the street, there are numerous bad habits that untrained drivers do with manual transmissions.
1) Improper clutch engagement. As you know, the clutch pedal and throttle pedal both have a lot of travel, and during a normal street driving upshift, there is a critical range where they will be during a good smooth shift. Optimal clutching technique involves letting out the clutch and pressing down the throttle without a pause in the pedal motion. There is no "friction point" in the clutch - there is a friction zone between light engagement and full lock-up - and a skilled driver will pass through this zone steadily. The skill is in lifting the clutch and depressing the throttle so that the engagement occurs during the right range of the throttle tip-in. This is particularly critical when running high-sprung or unsprung racing clutches, as releasing clutch engagement will lead to shudder.

2) Resting your hand on the shifter. Good drivers (especially racing drivers) keep two hands on the wheel as much as possible. This means minimal time on the shifter. Never watch drifting drivers - they obviously have skills but they race on a closed course well below the limits of the car and so their inability to react quickly is not a problem. Not only that you'll wear out the shifter knob and the slightest pressure on the shift knob will increase wear on the shift forks.

3) They don't rev match. On the street it takes only a gentle rise of the throttle or pause to let rev's fall - try to release the clutch so that the clutch does no work at all.

4) They rest at traffic lights or stop signs with the clutch in. While it's certainly necessary in many cases, the throwout bearing does heat up and since throwout bearings typically die of lubrication failure, this always shortens the life. When the car is stopped, put it in neutral and let out the clutch. It takes only a split second for a skilled driver to put it in gear and get moving. Your reaction time is zero if you're watching the light cycle correctly.

5) Resting foot on the clutch pedal. Like the right hand, there is a correct place for the left foot when you're not shifting, and it's the dead pedal, not the clutch.


RE: expert street driving manual transmission

All the young friend needs to know is that two hands on the steering wheel provides more precise control over what that thing does. Being slack with this suggests a somewhat slack attitude toward driving in general.

When not shifting, the shift lever needs no control whatsoever . . . I suppose there's the possible exception of finding oneself in a car that kicks itself out of gear from time to time due to abuse or wear.


RE: expert street driving manual transmission

"When not shifting, the shift lever needs no control whatsoever . . . I suppose there's the possible exception of finding oneself in a car that kicks itself out of gear from time to time due to abuse or wear." Probably caused by resting one's hand constantly on the shift lever.

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

Agree with NormPeterson and TheBlacksmith. When I was going to school for automotive repair, we had a drivetrain repair instructor tell us about this. He'd been a dealership mechanic and had gotten a car (Chevy Citation with a manual trans) to repair. Customer complaint was that it jumped out of gear. He took it out for a test drive and, sure enough, it jumped out of gear. He then figured, "I'm about 220 pounds and this is a little four cylinder. I'll just hold it in gear."

He put the shifter in first and braced his arm. He said it just about dislocated his shoulder. The owner drove with his/her hand on the shifter and had worn the shift forks to the point that the synchro would no longer fully engage. When that happened, the synchro sleeve would push back on the shifter with a LOT of force whenever the throttle was opened. It was impossible for even a strong person to hold in gear. Hopefully, the OP's friend will not have to learn this the hard way.

RE: expert street driving manual transmission

Just be thankful he isn't playing with the "info-tainment system" or texting with his right hand. Also that he is driving a manual rather than an automatic. Other than wearing out the release (throwout) bearing faster, he will do no actual harm other than to his pocketbook.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


White Paper - The New World of Thermoplastic Manufacturing
Digital-direct thermoplastic manufacturing offers exceptional quality, opens the door to novel design parameters not possible with injection molding while also bypassing the long lead time and up-front investment in injection molding tooling, offering a better total value proposition. Download Now
White Paper - Strategies to Secure Connected Cars with Firewalls
White-hat hackers have demonstrated gaining remote access to dashboard functions and transmissions of connected vehicles. That makes a firewall a vital component of a multilayered approach to vehicle security as well as overall vehicle safety and reliability. Learn strategies to secure with firewalls. Download Now
White Paper - Model Based Engineering for Wire Harness Manufacturing
As complexity rises, current harness manufacturing methods are struggling to keep pace due to manual data exchanges and the inability to capture tribal knowledge. A model-based wire harness manufacturing engineering flow automates data exchange and captures tribal knowledge through design rules to help harness manufacturers improve harness quality and boost efficiency. Download Now
White Paper - What is Generative Design and Why Do You Need It?
Engineers are being asked to produce more sophisticated designs under a perfect storm of complexity, cost, and change management pressures. Generative design empowers automotive design teams to navigate this storm by employing automation, data re-use and synchronization, and framing design in the context of a full vehicle platform. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close