5 Habits to Break When Driving a Manual Transmission

Whether you have been driving a car with manual transmission for years, or are currently learning how to drive one, it’s easy to develop bad habits over time. And as we all know, bad habits are hard to break. But what can break even more are your car’s transmission and clutch components over time if you don’t correct what you’re doing wrong. Here are five different habits to break when driving a manual transmission.

Do not shift gears without pressing in the clutch pedal first

This one is a no-brainer whether you have been driving a manual transmission for years or not. But always remember to press on the clutch pedal when shifting gears, whether you’re shifting up the gears or down them.

Not doing so can mess up the gears in the transmission as well as the clutch components. There are a lot of technical terms we can use for these parts in terms of what’s actually happening when you don’t disengage the clutch, but we’ll spare you the details.

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Do not rock back and forth while at a stop

When you finally get the hang of driving a manual transmission, especially first gear, it can become a habit to rock back and forth when at a stoplight. By rocking back and forth, we mean leaving the car in first gear and intermittently engaging the gear and then disengaging the clutch over and over, making the car rock.

Do not do that! By rocking back and forth, you’re causing a lot more wear on the clutch and it will need to be replaced sooner.

Instead, we recommend just keeping your foot on the brake and leaving the car in neutral for the duration of the stop.

Do not leave it in first gear when at a stop

That brings us to the next point, which just reiterates the last point. When you do bring the car to a stop, do not leave in the car in first gear with your clutch pedal pressed in.

This, again, will wear out the clutch and transmission parts over time, so we suggest just leaving the car in neutral with your foot on the brake. After all, that’s what the brake pedal is for, to stop the car and keep it stopped.

Do not leave your hand on the shifter

Leaving your hand on the shifter might make you feel fast and furious, but the only thing that is fast about it is how fast your shifter and transmission components will wear out.

Believe it or not, the weight of your hand can put pressure on the shifter and cause damage or excessive wear to the transmission and shifter components over time.

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Man drives manual transmission
Driving stick shift | Motortion/Getty Images

Do not leave the car in neutral when parked

When driving a car with an automatic transmission, you always put the car in “park” when you’re not driving it. However, in a manual transmission car, putting in first gear (or reverse when then the car is facing downhill) is just like putting the car in “park.”

It’s a typical habit to leave the car in neutral and use the emergency brake. While you should always use the emergency brake, it’s possible that it can fail at some point and your car will end up rolling. To prevent this, leave the car in the first or reverse gear. It could save you a lot of financial pain.

Break the habits

Breaking these habits can be tough, but what’s tougher is having to pay for repairs later on. Transmission and clutch components are not cheap and the labor to replace them costs even more.

However, if you’re really worried about driving a manual transmission improperly, then you can always just buy a car with an automatic transmission.