Hello all -
I am 22 and recently bought my first manual, a 2011 Kia Forte LX, and I'm having a lot of fun driving it, but have the standard n00b issues to which I've been trying to find answers. Multiple Google searches led me here and I'm excited to learn from those more experienced than I, not necessarily of the racing set (I bought the car to save fuel - my "old" car was a hog and only got 16 or 17 mpg). I've been driving this car for about 2 months and so far have gotten myself down to only killing it once a day instead of once every 5 minutes (one time killing it 6 times within about 10 feet - being a bundle of nerves with people behind didn't help) and I'm very proud of myself for that. I'd like to think that I can shift fairly well, some jerking, but that'll go away with time I'm sure and I can get up there fairly quickly.
So here are the few questions that I have (I'd like to be able to get to the point where I can answer questions too, but that may take awhile):
My car is a 6 speed, I learned in my friend's Mustang GT, which only had 5 speeds. As such I am not sure when I should and should not be using my 6th gear. I can run it at 45 mph without lugging or bogging down and the engine's RPM is right around 1800 (can't get too exact due to the analog display). My dad says to save 6th for the freeway, but I'm not sure.
Also, is there a specific RPM to keep the car running in order to return the best mileage (this is the reason I bought it after all.)? I've read keep them around 2000 and you should be good, but I've also read to keep them at 2500, meaning 35 mph in 3rd, 45 in 4th, 55 in 5th, etc. The latter being due to some idea of "keeping the engine loaded". I confess I'm somewhat mechanically illiterate right now and am trying to learn from people so that I can be wiser in the future.
Finally, and I know this has been discussed ad nauseum, ad infinitum, ad ZOMGANOTHERPERSONISASKING, is rev-matching necessary, a help, or just something to know so you can brag to your friends? I ask because I'll read one site that says that it is essential if you like your car, another site that says if you are driving around town you can probably skip it and learn better clutch-control, and yet another site will say that in a car with synchros it is not necessary. I know that you all have been discussing this a lot, as evidenced from the prevalence of this website in Google whenever I type in rev-matching, but I'm still confused. The conflicting information has me wondering if I should have stuck with an automatic sometimes. I primarily downshift going into turns and tend to want to scrub off speed so that I don't go warp-speed into a pole and as such feel uncomfortable trying to rev-match (or heel-toe as is often brought up in the same discussions - I'm not comfortable trying that) and have tried rev-matching during a regular downshift and ground out fourth gear (which I can't imagine is too good for it either) and start to panic when I do it wrong. If I'm on the freeway and need to get going I will go 6 to 4, but usually, since I'm trying to move, I'm already "tromping" on the gas and don't experience engine braking there and am not uncomfortable with that part.
My friend tells me to feather the clutch on a downshift in the city to smooth it out, but then I read people saying that slipping your clutch is bad for it. On another site I'll see people saying don't worry about it so much because the clutch is meant to slip a little, that is how you avoid going warp-speed in reverse after all. Generally, in the city, I'll ride up to the light in the highest gear I attained and then pop it over into first once stopped to avoid needless clutch action. I have my hand at the ready in case the light changes and I have to drop it in a lower gear to accelerate, but I've gotten over the n00b move of moving sequentially backwards through the gears.
I think I'm over-thinking things a little and suffering from information overload. Please discuss, or tell the dumb kid (me) to get out of the AP class if you think I'm hopeless.
I apologize for the very long winded introduction.
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