Top 9 biggest mistakes when driving a manual transmission car

Mar 14, 2019 | Same topic: Let's drive smart!
Never do these errors or your clutch may need repair sooner than it should do!

One of the most basic skills when learning to drive is using the clutch shifting with a manual transmission (MT). Old timers will be familiar with this because that was the most popular transmission for cars before. Anyone who grew up will remember that joy riding in mum’s MT car was an adventure too.

Driving a manual transmission car is something that will be mastered in time. Some difficulty and a personalized learning curve which determines how well the car is driven should be a factor. Most veteran drivers who prefer manual transmission will be familiar with the way this transmission operates.

A manual transmission is simple and intuitive since it allows the best driver to squeeze out power in every gear shift. There might be some problems for some drivers who aren’t as adept at smooth shifting. They should avoid doing these following no-nos actions to optimize the advantages of manual transmissions.

5 things you should never do in a manual transmission vehicle

1. Don't rest your hand on the gear shift

Always let go of the shift stick when not changing gears. It should be avoided because it creates friction with the rotating collar. This causes the selector fork in the transmission to malfunction prematurely which isn’t ideal.

This mistake can cause some problems with the transmission later on. Another thing is that both hands must be free to control the cars steering wheel too. There is more going on when using manual transmission which can be a problem when gear shifting is not understood properly.

Rest hand on the gear shift

Both hands should be free to control the steering wheel

2. Avoid engaging the clutch when rolling downhill

One of the problems with the clutch is that it can be worn down and that causes problems when shifting up or down. Use the clutch sparingly to engage and shift the gears smoothly when driving manually driven cars. When the clutch doesn’t hold properly when engaged in gear that will cause problems when the car is shifting while on the move.

Good wear and tear of the clutch disc will give optimum shifting at its best at low or high RPMs.

3. The clutch pedal shouldn’t be a place for foot

Do you get lazy and just lay your foot on the clutch pedal?  More than one driver is guilty of doing it when wanting to change gears fast with this method. Another concern is that the left foot should be off the pedal because it is not an efficient way to access the brake pedal. This applies to drive an automatic too because it’s another form of clutch riding.

Drivers who love to rest their foot on the clutch will cause a slipping clutch that will be a bit costly and difficult to replace. This is one of the surest ways to get the clutch to wear out the fastest too! Anyone driving should know if their foot is engaging the clutch or not. These kinds of drivers are called “clutch riders” because their feet will always land on it!

Foot on the clutch pedal

Drivers shouldn't place their foot on the clutch pedal

4. Revving at low gears is not smart!

Some make the mistake of revving at a lower gear that robs the transmission of power. There will be some damage to the moving parts in the gearbox, not just the clutch when revving as such. Better to get more actual power than rev by downshifting till there is enough momentum and it doesn’t waste fuel or energy.

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5. Avoid using the clutch to bite into gear in an inclined plane

Driving cars uphill is a pain especially for those bad at it! They cheat by abrading the point where the clutch will chew into the engine transmission plate. It does work and keeps the car steady on an incline with friction that results in some wearing out.

Do this more than enough times to wear out the clutch disk sooner. The car should have a hill hold option that helps minimize clutch biting on any steep incline.

6. Never use a low gear to gain speed

Do you know that the gearbox is meant to go through all the gears for optimized acceleration? Going to a lower gear and redlining the tach to jack up sudden speed will be bad for non-high-performance cars! This burns too much fuel and stresses engines not able to handle lows RPMs for higher speed.

Feeling out the engine and gear shifting will clue when to shift at the right position.

Skip the gear to gain speed

Skipping gears will stress the engine and burn too much fuel

7. Engaging gears when at a stop

Driving isn’t a race and leaving it in the first gear will not be a smart option! Here’s another form of clutch riding that shouldn’t even be done by a novice driver. Shift to neutral and just shift when traffic starts moving. Don’t forget to use the handbrake not the foot brake to make things clear! Engaging the clutch and not moving to neutral will wear out the clutch disk too.

Put gear into neutral when car stops

Remember to put the gear into neutral when the car stops

8. Never shifting without the clutch

Be smart and never shift without engaging and releasing the clutch when cycling through the gears.  Without the clutch pedal to engage the clutch disc, there would be no gear shifting! It disengages and causes the gearbox to move and without there would be gear grinding. Force a gear change without the clutch for damage to the engine later on!

9. Don't brake without using the clutch pedal

Never press the brake and let go of the clutch to reduce the need for the brake to do everything. This is called the engine brake that stops the car in the shorter distance. Adjusting both brake and clutch when braking will not cause the gear shock with a sudden stop. Smooth transitioning for both pedals will maximize brake power with the engine dying.

Brake with using the clutch pedal

Never press the brake without using the clutch pedal

Driving a car with manual transmission is not a daunting task for most drivers. Getting rid of these bad habits will preserve the transmission longer and avoid problems with the clutch in particular. 

We hope you will find useful tips for safe driving in our article and don’t forget to visit our page at for more helpful advice for car owners.

Source: Norjan Ismail Abbas