*Disclosure: The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn (Manual Transmission Sedan) was provided to me for testing purposes and editorial consideration. All opinions are 100% my own*
Since learning to drive a manual transmission vehicle I have been low-key obsessed with the entire process. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely takes time and a lot of practice to become good, but it is worth it in the end.
I remember years ago when I first tried learning I could not get it to save my life. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago when I was offered one on one time with a professional race car driver that it actually clicked. Having him there to demonstrate and to provide step by step instructions made a world of difference. I was actually able to grasp the concept and became a pretty decent manual driver in about 2 hours.
After my training, I still got nervous, I still stalled, and I still needed a lot of practice, but I didn’t give up! That’s pretty much the key to learning to master driving a stick. Well, that and patience.
Which brings me to today…
It’s now 3 years later and although I am not a pro, I have graduated from a “decent” manual transmission driver to a pretty “solid” one. Although, I am sure if I actually owned one, I would be shifting gears like the best.
Since I am continuously getting better, my goal is not only to remember the basics, but to also keep in mind things I should not do while behind the wheel of one.
Keep reading to check out a few below…
1. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Learning to drive a stick shift takes time. It is not an easy process to master, so don’t beat yourself up when you stall or even shift into the wrong gear. Just know YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and it happens to the best of us.
Yes, learning the basics can be pretty easy, but to get really good takes practice, determination and patience. Just know that every time you do it, the better you become, so don’t give up.
I still remember my instructor saying over and over again “you got this”. So every time I stall with ten cars behind me blowing their horns, I throw it in neutral, I take a deep breath, tell myself “you got this”, take my confidence back, and proceed.
Again we ALL stall at some point. So, while out on the road stay positive and keep it moving.
2. Don’t Rest Your Hand on the Gear Shift
Resting your hand on the gear shift is an easy habit to get into and a hard one to break. And yes, one that I am guilty of doing.
It was/is almost like an invisible security blanket for me while driving. There is something about being able to shift the gears quickly that makes me feel secure. However, it is not good for my safety or my pocket.
When driving you want to keep your hands on the wheel as much as possible (ten-to-two or quarter-to-three position). This way you can safely steer the car and be ready to respond to traffic when necessary.
Additionally, leaving your hand sitting on the gear knob can cause unnecessary and unwanted damage to your transmission.
The weight of your hand can actually cause the parts responsible for gear shifting to rub together, rub down, and eventually cause your car to jump out of gear.
3. Riding the Clutch is a Big NO
As far back as I can remember, I have heard of drivers burning their clutches out for this very reason.
It is a fact that if you continuously ride the clutch, the pressure you apply will cause the clutch friction disk to slip and wear out. To ensure it lasts as long as possible, remove your foot from it as soon as you switch gears.
4. Don’t Keep Your Car In Gear While At Stop Sign/Light
When I first learned to drive a stick I would keep the car in gear at the stop light. This was another invisible security blanket because I felt having it in gear allowed me to move right away if needed. As I became more experienced I eventually started to put it in neutral when at a stop.
I’m very happy I did because leaving it in gear will cause the clutch to suffer from unnecessary wear and tear.
Note: When you put your car in neutral at a stop, you’re lessening the general wear on your clutch.
5. Don’t Floor the Gas Pedal at Low RPMs
If you floor the gas pedal while at a low RPM you risk stressing the engine. When looking to accelerate, shift the gears and you will gain momentum without causing damage.
Girls Drive Manuals Too
Never Give Up
I definitely wish I would have taken my own advice years ago. I remember when I went to finance my first vehicle I tried my hand at a manual transmission vehicle. After stalling out a few times it was a big NO for me. Needless to say I ended up purchasing an automatic. LOL!
It wasn’t until I visited Europe a few years later that I regretted my decision. My friends and I decided to take a road trip to another city. However, the only cars available were manuals. Thankfully, someone I was traveling with is very experienced at driving a stick shift, but how EPIC would it have been to drive on the back roads of Zaragoza, Spain.
Like they always say, if you can drive a manual transmission car you can definitely drive an automatic. However, the reverse is not true.
After that experience I made it a point to learn.
2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn
The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn has a starting price of MSRP: $27,635.00, Price tested: $30,745.00.
- Autobahn (Price tested)
S 2.0L Turbo, 6-speed manual transmission
City: 24, HWY: 33
What We Loved:
- Roomy Comfortable Cabin
- Great color
- Fast, smooth and sporty
- Apple CarPlay / Android Auto
- VW Digital Cockpit
- Leather seating surfaces
- DCC adaptive chassis control
- Volkswagen Car-Net
- Driver Assistance
- Blind Spot Monitor
- Front Assist
- Rear Traffic Alert
- Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
- Lane Assist
- Light Assist
Are you guilty of doing any of the above? Inquiring minds want to know!
For more information about the 2020 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn visit the Volkswagen website!
Have A Happy Healthy, and Remember to Always…