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THE TOOLS

Learning to drive a manual transmission requires the driver to apply new concepts to old car features.

The Clutch

clutch

Look down at the floorboard of your driver's seat. Notice something different? A third pedal perhaps? This is your clutch. Think of the clutch less as a friend and more as a lover. Be gentle with you lover. You will use your clutch when you are starting your car and changing gears. The clutch must always be either fully compressed or decompressed; do not ride the clutch.

The Gear Shift

gear shift

Now that you're driving a manual car, you will use your gearshift for more than drive, reverse and park. Think of your gearshift as your right-hand man. When driving a manual car your left hand is on the steering wheel and you right hand is almost always on the gearshift. The gears follow a logical progression. The driver begins at one and shifts upward to the highest number. The neutral gear (N) will save your left leg at stoplights. You can brake while in neutral, but you can never accelerate.

The Emergency Brake

emergency brake

Unless you live in a hilly area, you probably never had much use for the emergency brake. However, a manual car will roll or can be pushed if the emergency brake is not engaged. The emergency brake must always be employed when the car is turned off and to further prevent the vehicle rolling it is a good idea to keep the car in gear while turned off rather than in neutral.

The Tachometer

rpm

The tachometer is the dial to the left of the speedometer. You should think of the tachometer as the friend who always knows best. It measures the revolutions per minute (RPMs) of the engine’s drive shaft. The purpose is to allow the driver to gauge the engine’s rev and power range. An engine that approaches the red line of the tachometer is likely to blow up.