How Do You Drive a Stick Shift?

Learn to drive a stick shift by practicing with the car off, learning to engage the clutch, driving off-road and operating the vehicle in light traffic. Enlist the help of a person who is experienced in operating a manual transmission. The process requires a few days.

  1. Practice with the car off

    Sit in the driver's seat, and set the parking brake. Depress and release the clutch pedal a few times. Take time to learn the car's shifting pattern. Practice accelerating with the engine still off and moving through the gears, depressing and releasing the clutch with each shift.

  2. Learn to engage the clutch

    Locate a safe place to practice driving with a manual transmission. Begin with the car running and in first gear. Release the clutch slowly without depressing the accelerator until the car begins to move forward. Continue releasing the pedal until the clutch fully engages. Practice until you are able to engage the clutch fully without stalling the car.

  3. Drive off-road

    Once the car is in first gear and rolling, press the accelerator to speed up. Ask your assistant to indicate when you should shift gears. Depress the clutch, move the shift lever into second gear and release the clutch. Practice until you know when to shift and are able to make the move smoothly.

  4. Operate the car in light traffic

    Practice on a road where you know traffic is light. Drive the car, and shift the gears as necessary to maintain speed. Continue to practice until you feel comfortable operating the vehicle without a helper.