Sunday, March 28, 2010

How to drive a manual / standard shift gear car

Update: Since I wrote this I have learned quite a bit more about how to drive better, smoother and feel like an automatic car to your passengers and compiled some tips:

#1 my main mistake was not staying in gear long enough, this feels slow and depending on your car power you may need to play with your situation but in my car I found staying until 3 or 3.5 thousand RPM (revolutions per minute) was optimal - unless of course you're in traffic when you don't need that much power and the driving style changes. So this helps avoid the jerk feeling or slowing down when specially when shifting to the second gear since you need more power to get moving and the car is not yet moving fast, stay with the gas until you reach 3,500 RPM and when you plateau on the accelerating you can clutch, let go of gas, shift to second and slowly+smoothly engage the clutch. Same idea for the rest of the gears depending how fast you need to go (street or highway).

#2 when reversing, or rather when sliding the gear into reverse make sure the car is not moving (even a little) because in my car's design it will not allow the gear to enter R if the car is moving even slightly in any direction. First gear will let you slide in as long as your gown <15km/h, also while we are on the reverse topic, the clutch engages a little faster and unless you plan to go far in reverse you probably won't let the clutch out fully. I end up reeving a little and slowly engaging until I get far enough and can go forward.

Feel free to comment your tips, experiences, thoughts etc I know I'm not a pro and far from it...
------------More will be updated as I get them, here is the original article:

A long awaited journey on the learning curve of the manual/ standard shift gear car has began two weeks ago and I wanted to report back on the educational (edu blog) experience.

First, how to get things started, 5 gears and reverse, clutch on the left, break in the middle and gas on the right as usual. The clutch is the most important piece because it is the most used and toughest part in my opinion.

Second, to get moving, clutch has to be all the way down to the floor, start the engine and slide the gear in place.

Now you can press the break and release the hand break (all the while keep the clutch all the way down).
Once in gear and ready (first or reverse - depending where your going) you need to release the clutch very very slowly, this is important, releasing too far will stall the engine. Centimeter by centimeter you release the clutch very small movement of the pedal until you feel the car moving in the direction, or you see the revs get lower but don't let them drop any further without giving gas, because again this is where the engine will stall.

This is the most critical point of driving manual cars, getting from 0 is the toughest in my experience and I'm sure for many others. But from people's instructions and even tutorials on the net (even youtube videos) I noticed the teaching doesn't get me where I am going, anywhere.

So, again, keep the break on, clutch all the way down, release very very slowly until you feel some movement, practice this until you find the 'grip point' of the clutch - where it engages the gear to the wheels.

You don't have to know the mechanics but it helps, once you feel the engagement of the clutch, keep it there and start applying the gas - slowly as well, you don't want to rip it now!

Put the revs above 1, at 1.5 should be sufficient for most cars, at this point the car shouldn't even roll back if you are on a hill, so we solved that problem as well.

Now continue releasing the clutch - still very slowly or the car will jerk, until your left foot is completely off the clutch and now you are moving!

Step three, changing the gears: this one is often overlooked as the getting started part seems tough enough.
Well, from my experience you still need to be very smooth with the clutch in order to not make your passengers seasick, and of course avoid hardware problems in your car mechanics.

Okay, so your at 2.5-3 thousand RPMs of the first gear, you need to switch. Press down the clutch - all the way to the floor and this doesn't have to be smooth, actually best to do this fast [edit: easing off the gas should be smooth as to not launching your passenger forward]. Keeping the clutch down you switch the gear from first to second and now comes the clutch re-engagement part. Don't drop it or else you will jerk the car!

Release the clutch about half way until the engaging point and now smooth out the clutch at a slower release while reapplying the gas, smoothly. Keep in second gear for another 20KM/H or 2.5-3 thousand RPMs again until switching to third, fourth and fifth (unless you have a sixth). From there it is mostly smooth sailing.

Slowing down: down-shifting should still be done smoothly as described above, clutch release is the challenge as always and in this case we can't re apply the gas (unless your using heal-tow maneuver) so you need to get the right gear for what's going to happen next, predicting isn't tough in driving since you know you will need to accelerate after you get past a turn, therefore dropping the gear to second or third, or simply neutral if your coming to a stop (don't down shift to first unless your speed is below 20km/h)

Coming to a stop you should clutch again but don't put in first gear until you are ready to reengage, no explanation for this, just how it is. In other words until you reach 0-10 you should not switch to first gear.

Turning, most of us turn at 30-40KM/H which should put you at 3-4th gears is what I found from experience.

Stop and go traffic will probably put you at 1,2 and sometimes 3ed gears, clutching and if you're like me, using the neutral so my left foot can rest (release the clutch on Neutral).

If you have questions, leave a comment or email.
I will try to get a video put together but it's proving difficult to drive and hold a camera at the same time...
Check out youtube for other people's explanations, but some can be misleading and not entirely great...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Free Windows Software

I compiled a list of Windows software that are free (as in free beer), most are also open source (as in free speech) and I use those commonly for daily tasks, sorted by relevancy and by categories:

To make easier to install all the programs use:
Hope you enjoy those as much as I do, I will keep updating this as I find more, any suggestions/ideas/comments are always welcome! Thanks for visiting :)

Last update: May, 2016