Learning to drive a stick shift

Here’s the deal. On the 15th I’m flying to Cali to pick up a car from my father. He can’t sell it, and the lease runs out in about a year, so he decided to give it to me until then. Here’s the problem…It’s a stick shift. It’s a five speed little white toyota mr2 spyder. And I have no idea how to drive a stick shift.

So, does anyone have any tips or ways that made it easier for you to learn? I have to drive it from California all the way back to FSU in Tallahassee, so I’m a little bit worried…

It all just practice, I started stick on a truck which I hear is the hardest to learn on, and I picked it up pretty fast. Just make sure you ease out on the clutch as you press on the gas. When I first started I was under the impression that I had to push in the clutch, change gears, then let go of clutch then hit the gas, it took me awhile to realize I needed to push on the gas while I was letting out the clutch. I also found it easier at first to start in 2nd gear, its a slower takeoff, but its alot smoother than starting in 1st.

When my sister turned 20, my dad bought her a car. She took a Greyhound 300 miles to pick it up. She got there and it was a stick. My dad (who is a huge ass) took her around the block a couple of times and said, “Be careful on the way home.” She had to drive through San Antonio during rush hour and then all the way back home. She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer and she’s still alive. You can do it.

ok basically what you need to do is figure out where your clutch engages cause its different on every car. push the clutch all the way in and let it out slowly, you’ll eventually feel the car engage and at this point press the gas. if you let the clutch go to far out, the rpm’s will drop and you’ll stall. its all about getting a feel for the car.

the best thing i can tell you is to find an empty dirt road… i learned on a 1943 WWII jeep, theres no sync in those so you have to double clutch, half hour in that and i could drive anything. also, take your time when letting out on the clutch, you can feel the car ‘lag’ and just press the gas… a rule of thumb… if you got a tach in it. keep it above 2000 rpm. thats all i got to say, thank you.


You’re really gonna learn how to drive stick on that drive!! Seriously, just go to an empty parking lot and learn the catchpoint of the clutch. Once you learn just the catchpoint, you can start to apply the gas. Shifting gears is easy, getting started is hard. Good luck!!

You’ll be fine, especially once you get on the highway then you don’t have to shift at all. The hardest part is getting started form a stop, just get the concept of giving it a decent amount of gas, get a good rev on and slowly, gemtly release the clutch the clutch will grab and the car will start rolling, ease it the rest of the way out and then you are good to go. Once the car is rolling, shifting is a simple matter of pushing in the clutch, shifting, and letting it out. Good luck!

Thanks for all the helpful replies…I’m pretty confident that I can get the hang of shifting in half-one hour, and as most of you said, once I get on the highway, the car is basically an automatic…

I thought I was the only male this side of the Mississippi that couldn’t drive stick shift. Glad I’m not alone…haha.

Sounds to me like some bodies mechanic will be putting a clutch in a mr2 spider reallll soon.

I learned to drive on a stick. It was a long time before I even drove an automatic. The empty parking lot or dirt road suggestions were good. Maybe you could find a willing person to ride along with you to give you tips when you are practicing.

The scariest part is learning to start after stopping on a hill. You can always use the parking brake to prevent you from rolling backward until you get the hang of it.

If you have trouble finding 1rst gear; go into second gear(that would be left and down) and push straight up.
Also take all turns in second gear

I learned on an old Sears tractor – on that thing, the brake and clutch were one in the same, so I had to learn to shift fast.

How is your left foot coordination? The biggest impediment I’ve seen is people who are so used to NOT using their left foot that it takes a long time to get the coordination. Drummers are the easiest, even if they drive an automatic (left foot = high hat).

You might be able to find some video games that do similar things and “practice” on those.


Thanks again for the helpful tips…I’m excited nonetheless, cause even though it will be one helluva long drive, I’ll be seeing some gorgeous scenery.

And to dkal, yes, go noles…

Driving stick is easy once you get the hang of it, but rather than feel like you’re practicing on your “new” car, and to boost your confidence level, why not buy a lesson for fifty bucks?

I ordered a MT car ten years ago without knowing how to drive it, and I had an instructor from a driving school give me a lesson the day before I picked it up. Benefits were I got to practice on her clutch, not mine, and it was a stranger–not a family memeber–showing me what to do, which I think is almost always a good thing. Plus you’ll have added confidence when you’re pulling away for the first time and everyone else is watching…

You’ll know how to drive stick by the time you get back to Tally!

It’s easy! And fun! A manual is the way to go! Screw an automatic. Better yet, give me the car. I’ll drive it for you and then sell it and use the cash to buy an EVO.