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Discussion Starter #1
I have never driven a manual transmission but love how the St looks. I know people that do drive manual prefer it to automatic transmissions but wanted to get some peoples input.
How long did it take you to learn?
Any pros/cons that I should know?

I want to learn but my biggest worry would be getting a new car and not being proficient. I would not want to destroy the clutch or anything right away.

Thanks
 

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This is also a concern for me. I have never driven a stick /manual transmission before. I have driven a manual ATV, and Motorcycle before. I also do quite a bit sim racing with manual shifting. (GT5 with G25 racing wheel) <-- But I know that means nothing.

I think we could request a member here to create a Focus ST How to Drive Manual video/tutorial. Not to mention the countless videos and websites on the internet that provide help on the subject.

I bet your dealer would help you learn once you bought one. lol
 

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After driving the manual in my '03 Civic for nearly 10 years I can safely say every car I will ever own until they stop making them will be a manual. You just feel so much more engaged with the car, and even with the Civic being underpowered its OK because you can just rev the pants off of it if you want to. Automatics generally always seem to shift at the wrong times and make the cars they are attached to feel a bit sluggish somehow. One hidden benefit I guess is very few people still want to borrow my car once I tell them it is a manual.

Most important things to remember I'd say is to never "feather" the clutch when engaging (letting it out) or disengaging. Don't rest your foot on the pedal when driving, even a small amount of pressure can begin to disengage the clutch. The clutch (as much as possible) should only be -ON- or -OFF-, any thing in between is shortening clutch life. When starting out, basically give a bit of gas and engage the clutch as fast as possible without causing an excessive jerk and all the while applying only enough gas to keep the RPMs slightly elevated from idle speed, no more, no less. Once fully engaged, full power is fine. Of course, this may not win you any drag races, Haha

My car's original clutch is now at 150,000 mi and counting, so they can last a long time. Every car (and driver) is different though, and the more torque a car has the more important proper clutch usage becomes. Basically if you are hard on the gas every time you are engaging the clutch, or floor it before it is fully engaged it really won't last long at all, with any car.

Then again, I learned to drive stick at 8 years old on a farm tractor with my grandpa shouting at me that I'm going to wear it out if I ever touched the clutch so I might not be the best one to ask.
 

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Your not alone. I am more nervous than you could imagine about purchasing a manual drive car. And I actually learned how to drive one when I was 16 (granted that was almost 12 years ago).

I plan on either renting a manual car or finding someone brave enough to teach me in their own car.

Like Chad though, I have driven an ATV (still have it actually) but that really doesn't make me feel any better. lol
 

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Your not alone. I am more nervous than you could imagine about purchasing a manual drive car. And I actually learned how to drive one when I was 16 (granted that was almost 12 years ago).

I plan on either renting a manual car or finding someone brave enough to teach me in their own car.

Like Chad though, I have driven an ATV (still have it actually) but that really doesn't make me feel any better. lol
Finding a manual car to rent is actually rather difficult. I tried a couple years ago to rent a manual transmission car and called a few places before I just gave up. Since so few people actually know how to drive them, the rental car places generally don't bother carrying them.
 

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Finding a manual car to rent is actually rather difficult. I tried a couple years ago to rent a manual transmission car and called a few places before I just gave up. Since so few people actually know how to drive them, the rental car places generally don't bother carrying them.
Indeed. I have been looking around and there are a couple of places that say they have manual available, however I will find out for sure once I call and try to rent one.
 

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It would help to practice on a car ahead of time. It does take practice as it may not be intuitive right away, infact it can be downright frustrating at first. I can remember trying to learn on my first car which was an 84 escort. I recall using WAY too much gas when releasing the clutch for a long time to prevent stalling. Had to 'trial by fire' in order to make it to school ontime but I suppose that is the best way to learn. Oh what a POS that was! I drove that car into the ground almost literally (but not because of the transmission)

I will say I am nervous the first time - every time - I get into a new car with a manual transmission. Every car is slightly different and I'm afraid I will stall it out right away. heh. It has been about 3-4 years since I have driven a stick shift and I can say once you have gotten to enjoy driving a manual you get to feel 'bored' in an automatic transmission.
 

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I have only owned manual transmission cars, my first car was a stick and I got one lesson about driving a stick with the car when it was a 3spd, a month later I tore the engine apart and rebuilt it completely and swapped in a 5spd, the car sat for about 8mon till I got my license and I started driving it every day. I now work as an automotive technician so I get to drive tons of stick shift cars of all makes and models and they are all different, it just takes getting a feel for each individual cars gas and clutch pedal and I am good to go.
 

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I would recommend not learning on an ST, I would feel bad for the car. I learned at 16 and the first few hours involved a bunch of lurching around, stalling etc. But you'll learn fast, it's certainly nothing to worry about. It's funny, I would practice in my mind while riding in the passenger seat and I think that helped. Video games will definitely help. I fly a lot of flight sims and when I went for my first few hours of ultra-light hours the instructor said he couldn't believe I had never flown before, he kept saying the whole flight that I had the proficiency of someone with dozens of hours.
 

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The wrench in the whole thing is every manual transmission car is slightly different. There are different clutch engagement points, shift points, shift patterns, amount of clutch "grip", engine/flywheel inertia, pedal spring constants, etc.

You basically have to drive that specific car a while to drive that car well. But learning the basics on a cheaper less powerful car would help you out a lot. Heck, I will probably stall the ST the first time I drive it, and I've driven a manual for almost 10 years.
 

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The problem is finding someone with a manual transmition car. *sigh*
 

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Go to a dealership and ask to test drive a car. Pick a manual model ;)
I did that for the 2012 Focus. Test drove it a while back. I had previously gotten the basic manual lesson in parking lots a few times, but this was my first time on the road.
The 5 speed in the 2012 Focus was the best I've used. Smooth, very easy. Didn't stall once, and even drove on a windy road with hills.
Did chirp the tires a few times though. Thought I'd need a bit more gas between gears... apparently not lol.
I'm still nervous about having a manual ST, but I know after a day of driving it, I'm never going to want an auto again.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm not planing on preordeing. I want to see one at the dealer first. I guess that means I have time to practice. Just to find someone I know with a manual Or time to whip out the Xbox and steering wheel haha. Right now the performance blue ST3 is at the top of my list
 

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I don't really think video games will help in this situation. The issue with learning manual isn't knowing when to shift, the car will let you know just fine. The issue is learning the friction point between the clutch and the gas. I assume the ST will have a pretty good clutch and will be rather easy to get rolling. Once you avoid stalling the engine and engage the gears everything else is pretty easy.

I would say it took me a solid two weeks of daily driving before I got comfortable with manual. After that you can stop worrying about if you are gonna stall at each stop sign and start focusing on getting more efficient starts.
 

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Most important things to remember I'd say is to never "feather" the clutch when engaging (letting it out) or disengaging. Don't rest your foot on the pedal when driving, even a small amount of pressure can begin to disengage the clutch. The clutch (as much as possible) should only be -ON- or -OFF-, any thing in between is shortening clutch life. When starting out, basically give a bit of gas and engage the clutch as fast as possible without causing an excessive jerk and all the while applying only enough gas to keep the RPMs slightly elevated from idle speed, no more, no less. Once fully engaged, full power is fine. Of course, this may not win you any drag races, Haha
Feathering or slipping the clutch is absolutely necessary when learning to find the engagement point. Also there are times when slipping the clutch is necessary to keep smooth driving. Slipping a clutch is not a 100% bad thing. Clutches, like brakes, are components that are designed to wear. I think its more important to drive smoothly, minimize driveline vibration/jerks, bogging, etc. And please don't keep the clutch in at a stoplight...put it in neutral and leave the clutch out. Your throw-out bearings will thank-you.

I would recommend getting all the bugs out on a cheapo 4-cyl car that you can stall, grind, and beat on. Then you can refine your skills on a specific clutch, such as the ST. All clutches are not created equal.
 

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This is also a concern for me. I have never driven a stick /manual transmission before. I have driven a manual ATV, and Motorcycle before. I also do quite a bit sim racing with manual shifting. (GT5 with G25 racing wheel) <-- But I know that means nothing.
You will pick up a manual a lot quicker if you have driven anything with a clutch before. Although the clutch is hand-operated on bikes, you have the rhythm/timing/coordination that you need to drive a manual car. Switching that to your foot should be easy. I found it easy to learn a car clutch with a bike background.
 

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I have a sue fire way to have you driving a manual in a day. I taught several people with this method and it always works.

The number one scary challenge with a manual are being stopped on a grade in traffic. People crawl up your ass and it can panic you when you have to get moving. You just have to have confidence and not over think it.
 

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Feathering or slipping the clutch is absolutely necessary when learning to find the engagement point. Also there are times when slipping the clutch is necessary to keep smooth driving. Slipping a clutch is not a 100% bad thing. Clutches, like brakes, are components that are designed to wear. I think its more important to drive smoothly, minimize driveline vibration/jerks, bogging, etc. And please don't keep the clutch in at a stoplight...put it in neutral and leave the clutch out. Your throw-out bearings will thank-you.

I would recommend getting all the bugs out on a cheapo 4-cyl car that you can stall, grind, and beat on. Then you can refine your skills on a specific clutch, such as the ST. All clutches are not created equal.
Yes brakes and clutches are wear parts, but the less you wear them the longer they last. Obviously some slipping at engagement is fine, but only what is necessary to not be all jerky or boggy. You just don't want to be modulating the clutch in any way with the other foot mashed down flat on the gas pedal unless you like the smell of clutch smoke :LOL:
 
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