New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

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JusCruzin
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New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby JusCruzin » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:17 pm

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to learn stick, and to learn it well. So I rented a 2002 Miata from a mom-and-pop rental car agency in LA yesterday, and somehow managed to drive it home without major incident -- although it was an ordeal since traffic was bad and I ended up taking local streets the whole way home. I have to say, learning stick is far more harrowing than I had anticipated. At stops, I get really tense about not stalling. (Although i managed to drive all the way across LA yesterday without stalling, i was a nervous wreck by the end, and was barely creeping along in my starts.) I think the major problem is that I just cannot develop a feel for the throttle, ie, I tend to pump it and can rarely hold it steady at 1200 rpm or so. This is discouraging since I thought the Miata would be an easy car to learn on.

I also find that the hardest parts are things that require finesse, like gently backing out of my driveway, or pulling in slowly. These things seem to require great feel for clutch and throttle, which I do not have. BTW, my background is driving automatic for the past 26 years.

Any words of wisdom?

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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby 4onthefloor » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:24 pm

JusCruzin wrote:Any words of wisdom?


Don't stop practicing and don't get discouraged

The only way you're going to get a feel for it and gain that finesse is to stick (no pun intended) with it.

Get the car into an empty parking lot or area and do some no-gas launches to get a feel for where the clutch engages. When you've got that, add gas as necessary to get a comfortable launch.

If you stall in traffic, who cares, just start the car again and continue on.

Those are my words of wisdom. Stay calm and don't give up.
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JusCruzin
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby JusCruzin » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:42 pm

Thanks. I spent about an hour trying no gas launches yesterday before embarking on my journey home, and also spent a couple hours practicing on side street today. I think I have bit of a feel for the clutch's friction point but I really struggle at being smooth on the throttle. I did try to just put it in neutral and practice holding the throttle at 1200 rpm or so, but the problem is that the throttle pedal just has no feel (or maybe I should say that I have no feel for it). Maybe I just need to practice using the throttle more in a parking lot.

I agree that I just need to get over the anxiety of stalling. It's tough to go from being an exprerienced driver (in automatic) to being barely competent at starting a car from a stop in manual.

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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby 94Corolla5Speed » Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:08 am

Welcome! And don't worry, we all had this anxiety when we first started. I bought my car (first car and first manual) after having driven stick only once prior for about 5 minutes. I felt terrible when I bought it, I thought I would never learn. Give it a couple of days though, go to an empty parking lot and just keep calm. Realize that if you stall, nothing will happen. You'll learn it in no time.

Sidenote: I CAN RENT A MANUAL MIATA?!?!? (If you can't tell already, I love Miatas)

If you don't mind me asking, how much was the rental?

JusCruzin
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby JusCruzin » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:07 am

It took me a long time to track down a manual car to rent, let alone a manual Miata. This particular agency is a mom and pop shop called At West with offices only in San Diego and LA. They charge $70 per day or $399 per week for the Miata, although they made it clear that they would go lower on the weekly rate. I don't get the impression that they have a lot of customers for the Miata, presumably because people want something cheaper and with auto.

A friend also suggested that I try Rent-a-Wreck, although I haven't called them yet.

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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby 94Corolla5Speed » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:18 am

Seriously, if I lived there, I would just pay $70 and gift myself a Miata on my birthday :lol:

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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby eggwich delfiero » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:29 am

You've got the right idea, just keep practicing. Nobody is born with a feel for it, it's developed (no matter what they may tell you.) And it's easy to say "don't be anxious" but it's much harder to not actually be anxious. On slick mornings, or even dry mornings, if I'm sitting in a line of twenty cars at a stop sign on a serious hill, just to be able to get to another stop sign with a serious hill, I'm still chitting my jorts a bit, and I've been driving stick forever and haven't had any problems or real slips since I was sixteen. Having control is a good thing, but it also entails possible loss of control. Stick with it, and you'll find you're actually more afraid of looking like a dumbarse than of doing any harm, at least that's now my fear, lol.

Side note: I was parking yesterday on the street and I needed to move back twelve inches or so, so I put it in neutral, pushed with my left leg out of the car and rolled back, then went to press the brake. It didn't work! I had two seconds of terror before I realized I was pushing in the clutch. Pulled up the parking brake and laughed at myself, then started pushing it back forward.

And welcome! I don't applaud your failure, but I applaud your willingness to be open with it. Learning things can be humbling, that I know.

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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby FDSpirit » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:57 am

Welcome! Like the others have said, practice, practice, practice! None of us got it day one. No gas launching helped me tremendously. After I got that down, I practiced holding the revs steady at "x",000 rpms, reducing it little by little and adding it into the equation with clutch release. You'll get the hang of it soon. Just don't get upset. Once everything starts to click, you'll never look back! ;)
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby Rope-Pusher » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:25 am

FDSpirit wrote: Once everything starts to click, you'll never look back! ;)

Actually, if everything starts to click, make a new post on that and we'll be sure to argue for daze as to whether it's no big deal or an audible Armageddon alarm.
Also, please continue to look back once in a while while driving forward and twice in a while while driving in Reverse. (THC will argue that it's 3x in a while when driving in Reverse, but that's where he'll be wrong. Everyone nose 3rd time is "the Charm", but I don't believe in Lucky Charms. (He's NOT a real Leprechaun, he's just an actor playing one in a commercial. Leprechauns don't make that cereal. The are made by Keebler Elves, on an otherwise un-used production line in a hollow tree)).
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby AHTOXA » Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:50 pm

Welcome!

Your discouragement is something that every new manual driver goes through. The learning curve is not steep for a manual trans and it takes a long time.

Try not to get nervous about stalling, even though it will happen. At first, you will have days or weeks when you drive great, and you will also have days or weeks when you will think that you've forgotten everything you have ever learned.

Try to relax, read theory here, practice and ask questions. We're here to help.
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby theholycow » Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:42 pm

Remember: The impatient people behind you aren't actually going to arrive at their destination any later, just slightly more annoyed. Don't worry about them, it's their problem.

I'm amazed that you found a manual to rent.

It sounds like you're doing OK with the no gas launch exercises but maybe you should do more throttle control exercises, parked in neutral and aiming for 100RPM increments. First, though, look at the way your foot sits on the accelerator. You may need to lay your foot on the entire pedal instead of just the tip as you would when feathering the throttle on an automatic. You get better control of your foot, and depending on the pedal's design you may get better control of the pedal too.

Something you can do is try to anticipate when you'll need to go and get a head-start on your launches, doing half of a no-gas launch a couple seconds before you actually need to go.
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby AHTOXA » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:53 pm

I've never found a manual to rent anywhere around here. I wonder where the closest place is where I can rent a manual non-exotic.
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby Rope-Pusher » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:00 pm

Back when eye was a lad, they kept econobox manuals on the major rental company lots so they could use bait-n-switch tactics to get folks to pay more to upgrade to a slushbox / bigger car.
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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby FDSpirit » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:41 pm

Those sneaky bastards!
2000 Honda Civic Si- Slightly faster than your grandmomma's grocery getter......slightly.

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Re: New Year, New Member (and discouraged already)

Postby JusCruzin » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:15 pm

Finding a rental manual car was a lot harder than I had thought, as Google searches do not turn up much. If I hadn't come across this rental Miata, I would have tried calling some of the exotic car agencies to see if they have a Mini or a Miata with manual for a reasonable rate (I'm pretty sure that most exotic car agencies carry much cheaper models than the Ferraris that they advertise). Also, Budget and Enterprise both offer some "exotic" cars, at least in LA, but I haven't really checked them out.


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