How To Drive a Stick

Rick Malone of the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School taught Maxim’s Marisa Hunter to drive manual. You’re next!

Borrow or Rent a Car

“Call first to make sure manuals are available, because rentals in the U.S. are almost all automatics. When you pick up the car, have somebody else drive it out of the lot for you. I wouldn’t let them know your goal is to learn, of course.”

Understand Some Theory

“You need to know what the clutch does. When you push it in, it separates the engine from the rest of the transmission and the drive wheels.”

Get Rolling

“Sit forward enough to be able to press the clutch all the way down to the floor. Generally people sit too far back. Without applying any throttle, put the clutch in, select first gear, and release the clutch really slowly. Once you get moving, put the clutch back in, brake, and bring the car to a stop. Repeat 10 times. Then, for the next set of 10, do it with a tiny bit of throttle applied.”

Start Shifting

“Select first gear to get the car rolling, add some throttle, and speed up to about 15 or 20 mph. Then the clutch goes in, the throttle comes off, and you move the selector from first straight down to second. As you’re releasing the clutch, apply the throttle. Once you’ve got first to second gear down, then move on to third, fourth, and so on. That’s what I did with Marisa, and she got up to speed real fast.”