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Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/21/19 4:46 p.m.

My 15 year old son got introduced to Mr. Clutch today. He's had a little low speed/parking lot stop, start, and steering experience in the family van with my wife, but this was in my ES Miata.

We did a few stops and starts, and he did well. I would like some suggestions for  "how a clutch works" videos, and any other tips, experiences, etc.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
9/21/19 4:52 p.m.

Visualize as gas and clutch being attached by a string over the steering column. When the clutch goes up, the gas goes down. This depends a LOT on the car. 

The thing I did that helped both of my kids the most was to have them get the car moving with no gas at all. You have to ride the friction point on the clutch (which probalby doesn't make the clutch real happy) but it gives them a good feel for what's going on. I found that I had to physically explain to my son how the clutch works with part of the system moving and the rest of the system not moving and the clutch's job is to slip to bring them to speed together. Once he understood that he was good. 

My daughter did two sessions. Got it. Decided that she had no interest in a manual at all. 

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/21/19 5:07 p.m.

Good advice. We did four starts, the first three were without using the throttle. 

Curtis GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/21/19 5:19 p.m.

Show him the brakes on the car; the rotors and pads, specifically.  A clutch is very similar.  Tell him to think of it like the rotor is attached to the engine, and the brake pads are attached to the transmission.  As he lets the clutch out, it starts to push the "brake pads" against the "rotor" on the engine.

Many times new clutch drivers fail because they don't know what's going on.  They think the pedal is attached to a magic thing inside the transmission and don't understand how the speed of their pedal release affects things.  It seems that if you can explain what the pedal actually does it seems to click a little better.

_ HalfDork
9/21/19 5:50 p.m.

A buddy taught me. He did it in a pretty funny way too. He said told me to let the clutch out until the engine died. Then said  “don’t let the engine die, the gas pedal keeps the engine alive.”  

We then went to a parking lot where he told me to “floor it and don’t lift”. While the engine was banging off the limiter, he “side step the clutch”. Best burnout ever.

We did this a few times. I got the hang of it pretty quick. 

Changing gears was easy once I learned how to get going. My buddy just had me practice shifting with the engine off so I would know where the gears were. 

Then, while driving, he would call out “clutch to the floor”, then “shift”, clutch out”, “GAS!”  

I learned to get around in about an hour. The next few days we practiced using the handbrake to get going on a hill. 

Daylan C
Daylan C GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/21/19 5:54 p.m.

In reply to _ :

I find the hand brake method way more difficult than not using. I tried it once then decided it wasn't worth it. Which I guess is handy because one of my manual cars doesn't have a hand brake.

slowbird HalfDork
9/21/19 6:01 p.m.

I watched a matt farrah video and some other one on YouTube, flew across the country, bought a Focus from a friend who coached me around the block a few times, and then I drove it on the Apache Trail, and then across the USA to get home.

Not that I recommend this method, necessarily.

Daylan C
Daylan C GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/21/19 6:07 p.m.

Personally I had some rough instruction from my uncle in his V8 f150 for like 20 minutes. Then never touched another clutch for like 5 years, then I bought my Saturn and just drove it until I didn't have to think too hard about it.

mbmsg New Reader
9/21/19 6:28 p.m.

Teach them with bare feet or just socks on, better feel for the clutch gas relationship 

kazoospec UltraDork
9/21/19 8:58 p.m.

I taught Kazoo Jr. "basic driving" - lane changes, signal use, highway merges, sign reading, etc. in the automatic "family truckster" first.  Then we did a few hours of parking lot work until he could reliably start and stop the car.  One hint I'd give you is find a lot with hills and practice those . . . a lot.  Eventually, we moved  to the "open road".  Funny thing is, the very first light we came to was on a pretty steep uphill and a cop car pulled up behind us.  When the light turned green, he managed to get us started without chirping or stalling.  I laughed and told him, "Well, it never gets any harder than an uphill with a cop behind you, so I think you're good."  We did keep him out of heavy traffic situations until he had several hours of stick driving under his belt.  

For what it's worth, I highly recommend a stick as a first car.  It requires more concentration, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  This helps to keep them "engaged" as a driver.  It keeps both of their hands busy, so driving while talking on the phone or chowing a cheeseburger becomes much less likely.  9 out of 10 (or more) criminals can't steal their vehicle.  They are easier to drive well in the snow than an auto.  They are very common in other parts of the world.  My son has always had a certain sense of accomplishment from driving a stick.  As far as he knows, he's one of only a few kids at his school that knows how to drive a manual.  

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/21/19 10:25 p.m.

Good answers here.

Definitely going to have a stick for the first car, and I've been telling both of my kids for years that I'd be a failure as a parent if they aren't competent with a manual transmission.

Good suggestion on practicing on a hill, but other than using a boat ramp (good way to add some excitement), I  would first have to travel about a hundred miles. Florida is pretty flat.

BTW, a steep boat ramp is a good place to learn the utility of using the handbrake for starting up a hill. It's not hard when the alternative is sinking your truck. My wife mastered it the first try, although she was already quite competent with a clutch (she's owned multiple manual transmission cars).

Curtis GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/21/19 10:44 p.m.

I pestered my dad to teach me how to drive when I was 5.  He finally caved and set me up with a lesson he thought I'd never accept.  He put his 69 Chevy pickup with 3-on-the-tree backed down to the edge of a 3' dropoff by the road.  If I failed, it would have dropped off the bank and landed the rear bumper in the middle of the road.  He turned the key off and said, "if you want to learn how to drive, get this truck up the yard and put it in the driveway."

I chickened out and we went in for supper.  After supper I was determined to do it.  I tore up the yard pretty well, but I got it.

I remember when the clutch was the whole way in, the back of my waist was on the front edge of the seat. I remember taking off my belt because it was catching the front of the seat and made it hard to let the clutch out smoothly.  I can still recall looking up and seeing the steering wheel but not being able to see anything except sky through the windshield.

Curtis GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/21/19 10:50 p.m.

My dad also taught me a fantastic lesson.

Driver's Ed teaches you what signs mean, how far you're allowed to park from a railroad crossing, and when to use turn signals.  Dad's advice was to never drive in a way that makes anyone else change how they're driving.  Don't pull out in front of someone and make them hit their brakes.  Don't change lanes if it causes someone else to slow down.  Don't drive in the left lane.  Don't use your high beams when someone is coming toward you.  Makes sense.  Accidents are often caused when someone has to alter their driving because someone else did a bonehead move.

ClemSparks UltimaDork
9/22/19 7:41 a.m.
Curtis said:

Accidents are often caused when someone has to alter their driving because someone else did a bonehead move.

This is true and it brings up another point.  Most accidents happen because BOTH drivers aren't paying perfect attention.  Or one makes a mistake (the one at fault) and one isn't watching and can't avoid the accident.  Some accidents are simply unavoidable (by the driver who is NOT at fault) but many can be (and are) avoided.  How many accidents could we be in every day/week/month if we hadn't been looking out for the boneheads?  Quite a few.

Klayfish PowerDork
9/22/19 8:18 a.m.

Following along.  My 15 year old is learning to drive on an automatic, but he's about to be introduced to the 3 pedal mafia.

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) UltimaDork
9/22/19 8:23 a.m.

I will throw in this nugget of truth.  Certain relationships are too old for clutch instruction.  If you’ve been around someone for long enough that they hear what they think you’re going to say rather than what you are actually saying, it’ll be an uphill battle.

I’ve taught many new drivers how to stick but had the most trouble with my kids.  Other peoples’ kids?  No problem whatever, it’s like the professional consultant has been brought in to shake up the company.  Takes 10 minutes and they are proficient.   

Find another driver (maybe another autocrosser) to teach your youngster.

Tom1200 Dork
9/22/19 4:11 p.m.

I use the no,throttle technique as well. After 8-10 times people seem to get it. Also when my son was riding with me in the car I'd have him shift gears; it's odd from the right seat but gives one a good mental image of where the gears are and what speeds to upshift as well as what gear to cruise in.

MrSmokey Reader
9/22/19 4:50 p.m.
Curtis said:

Dad's advice was to never drive in a way that makes anyone else change how they're driving.

+1 that is very good advice and it's something that I probably need to work on myself

dyintorace GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/22/19 4:53 p.m.

Same boat. 15 year old son learning the basics currently. I've started him in my 4th gen 4Runner and will eventually transition him to a 3 pedal, as I did with his older sister. She took to it well, as her car ended up being a GTI with a 6 speed. smiley

The main issue at the moment is the lack of an appropriate manual car to teach him on!

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/22/19 5:04 p.m.
dyintorace said:


The main issue at the moment is the lack of an appropriate manual car to teach him on!

That's one of the excuses I gave to my wife when I bought my first Miata last year.

Now I'm on my second one.

Klayfish PowerDork
9/22/19 6:02 p.m.
dyintorace said:


The main issue at the moment is the lack of an appropriate manual car to teach him on!


Well, then fix the issue.  I'm about to.  Details to come shortly....

TJL Reader
9/22/19 6:29 p.m.

I think if i understood mechanically what was happening with the clutch, pressure plate and flywheel when i was learning, i would have had a MUCH easier time learning. 

For me, learning a manual trans was when i bought my new truck in early 2000. Was a wild ride. Test drove 1 truck around for a few miles then drove mine home when it came in. 

RevRico PowerDork
9/22/19 6:34 p.m.

What worked for me was getting dropped 45 minutes from home with a new to me car and a vague idea of using the clutch and gas pedals like a seesaw. Might not be a great idea for youngsters though. 

dyintorace GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/22/19 6:43 p.m.
Klayfish said:
dyintorace said:


The main issue at the moment is the lack of an appropriate manual car to teach him on!


Well, then fix the issue.  I'm about to.  Details to come shortly....

Trust me...I'm shopping! wink

jr02518 Reader
9/22/19 7:50 p.m.

I have the student focus on backing up.  For some reason a new driver, looking over their shoulder, is slow and steady off the clutch and just a hint of the gas.

I have shared this with may friends that have had surprising success. 

And when the the new driver is sick of backing up, they are humbled by stalling the car going forward.  But they are more aware of what they need to fix when they focus on forward motion.




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