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Home Driving Lessons Driving Lessons 4 : Driving A Manual car

Driving Lessons 4 : Driving A Manual car

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]riving a manual car a bit different from driving an automatic car. There are two major differences. While automatic car had only two pedals, a manual comes with three. Pedal by the extreme left is the clutch.

To a typical learner, moving an object as huge as a motorcar from its stationary position is an ultimate magic. But all it requires are to calm down, follow recommended instructions and execute accordingly.

Manual Vehicle Controls

Truly, driving requires over 99 per cent concentration; but, more than that, you’ve got to be in full control, using the accelerator, clutch, foot brake, gear leaver, hand brake, etc. How? Here we go!

It is assumed here that after covering Lesson 3, you did not only move an automatic car, you reversed it. At least in theory. Having your instructor with you, how well have you been able to control the car?

Use your seatbelt: It minimises impact and fatality in case of accident
Use your seatbelt: It minimises impact and fatality in case of accident

Accelerator: As you leant in previous lessons, the accelerator pedal is operated by the right foot and when depressed increases the speed of the engine and thus give more power, when the pedal is released, the engine speed decreases and loses some of its power. Also, when the vehicle is moving, it controls its speed. Taking your foot off the accelerator pedal slows down the vehicle to an extent; it is not enough to stop it completely, except foot brake is applied.

Foot brake: The right foot operates the foot brake as well. This pedal is used for slowing down or stopping the vehicle, when depressed accordingly. The brakes and accelerator pedal are never used at the same time. However, it is important to practice until the right foot can be moved freely and with ease from one pedal to the other. When trying to bring a vehicle to a dead stop, the brake pedal should be depressed gently at first, and pressure gradually increased to bring the vehicle to a stop more quickly. If the brake pedal pressed too suddenly, the car would stop with a terrible shake-up!

The hand brake: This brake is put on, when the vehicle is parked, when it is stationary in the traffic, or when the vehicle is stopped on a hill, either when descending or ascending. Normally, it is not used to stop a vehicle in motion but applied after the vehicle might have been stopped by using the foot brake. To put on the handbrake of a car, it is usually pulled upwards.

Release the handbrake before moving the car
Release the handbrake before moving the car

Clutch: This happens to be the major difference between automatic and manual vehicle. Automatic needs no clutch. Unlike automatic car which enables you to push gear lever to the mode you prefer and the car would simply start moving forward or backward automatically, you have to do most things manually to drive a manual car. For instance, to engage the gear lever, you have to press down the clutch pedal with you left foot. Otherwise, any attempt the push the gear lever without pressing the clutch will result in screeching noise, an indication that you are about to damage the gear box. So how do you control the gear lever in a manual car?

Remember in an automatic car, once you push the lever onto “D” mode, the car does the rest of gear changing as you drive on. In case of manual, the driver would have to change the gear every time the car attains certain speed. The engine would indicate this by being noisy. Once the noise increases than usual, lift off your foot from the acceleration pedal, press down the clutch and change to the next gear.

Operation of Clutch and gear: Manual gear  direction and arrangement varies from brand to brand. While most oldest manual gears came with only four speed, most modern manual cars now come with five-speed and even more. However, it is responsibility of a driver to manually change to appropriate gear at every point in time, depending on condition of driving, which determines the speed you have to go.

Press down the clutch pedal with your left foot


: Press down the clutch pedal before putting the car on first gear or to change from one gear to another
: Press down the clutch pedal before putting the car on first gear or to change from one gear to another

When the pedal is pressed down, the plates of the clutch are separated and the engine is disconnected from the gearbox, so that the gear leaver can be moved to different positions. When the pedal is released, the clutch plates come together and the engine is again connected to the gearbox. Very careful control of the clutch pedal is essential at all times and this is one of the most important factors in good driving. It enables the vehicle to move off smoothly without jerks, and the gears to be changed easily and quickly if gear oil is present at all times. It also retains current, when depressed; the moment foot brake is engaged.

Gear lever position: The position of the gear lever varies according to the make of the vehicle. But the manipulation

Gear lever of a LandRover Freelander: On top of it is illustration of various
Gear lever of a LandRover Freelander: On top of it is illustration of various

of the gears is almost the same with little or no difference. The reverse gear is meant to move the vehicle backward. It

also varies slightly in position and operation, according to make and type of vehicle. Thus you have two types: Floor gear and steering column type.

Moving A manual Car

Check Gear Position: First, make sure that the gear is in a neutral position

Start the Engine: To start the engine, insert your ignition key on the ignition position and turn on the key the first time to switch on light indicators in the instrument panel or dashboard, after having made sure that the gear is in neutral position. All the lights

coming on is an indication that all is well with the electrical system of the vehicle.

Subsequently, press start button or turn the ignition key the second time to start the engine and release immediately the engine starts. Give one, gentle acceleration and allow the engine to run for at least one or two minutes on its own. It

To start the engine, turn the ignition key clockwise
To start the engine, turn the ignition key clockwise

is that time it would lift oil on its own to vital engine parts. And if you are starting from the cold, allow the engine to run for about 30 seconds. Afterwards, add more gentle acceleration until the engine attains normal idling.

How to move

In order to take off smoothly and safely without jerks, do as follows:

(a) Clutch down fully

(b) Engage gear one.

(c) Start depressing the accelerator gently to half inch

(d) Simultaneously release your foot from the clutch gradually to one inch

(e) And disengage your handbrake immediately.

Ensure that inner mirror is well adjusted
Ensure that inner mirror is well adjusted

You should witness a good creeping movement after having made sure you look through your side mirror to judge movement of other vehicles before vying into the road.

Success in doing the foregoing depends on the clutch and brake control with proper handling of the steering wheel to the desired direction only.

You cannot drive for more than one pole with gear one before changing to gear two. And these two gear positions you will continue with until your instructor is sure of your performances and deems it fit to educate you on the use of gear three, four and so on, which are for speed, including reversing and auxiliary gears, if any in the vehicle model.

This is how far we shall go on this edition of driving lessons. Next topic will focus on how to reverse a manual car. Happy motoring. And please be careful out there.


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