Step-by-Step Instructions on Driving a Stick Shift

by John Mack

Knowing how to drive a standard transmission is a useful skill in case you ever have the need to drive somewhere but have no options other than to drive a car with a stick shift. Standard transmissions used to be more common, but now automatic transmissions are more prevalent. Standard transmissions have an advantage in that they allow for more precise control over changing gears.

Press the clutch with your left foot and hold it down. Keep your right foot on the brake. If you do not press the clutch as you start the ignition, the car will stall out. Make sure the stick is in the neutral gear.

Turn on the ignition. Continue to hold the clutch in or else the car will stall out. The gear shift should still be in neutral.

Put the car in first gear as you continue to hold the clutch down. First gear will usually be located at 10 o'clock on the gear shift.

Depress the clutch slightly and as you do this, lightly press your right foot on the accelerator pedal. Gradually increase pressure on the accelerator pedal and simultaneously decrease pressure on the clutch pedal. In less than a second you should be pressing solely on the accelerator pedal. As the rpms increase and you hear the engine get louder, you will eventually hit the friction point where the rpms will decrease. Just before getting to this point is when you want to shift into second gear.

Let your right foot off the accelerator pedal completely and immediately press the clutch pedal completely. Once you fully press the clutch pedal with your left foot, move the gear shifter into second gear. Repeat the process in Step 4.

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for shifting into third, fourth and fifth gears.

Reverse the process for downshifting to decelerate for stops or slower speeds.


  • check Remember to fully press the clutch pedal when you are at a stop.


  • close Never skip a gear when shifting gears

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