New Member - First-time Manual Driver

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MH86
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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby MH86 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:32 pm

Especially since I mentioned my struggles last week, I wanted to give a happy update:

This weekend, I practiced hill starts (which was my biggest anxiety) on a moderately steep hill a few blocks away from me. On top of that, running errands led me to a surprise hill start (local driving sends me through many neighborhoods with "Hill" in their name) and I didn't roll back, even without the handbrake (I'm not quite sure if that was due to my clutch skills or hill start assist, so I'll equally give credit to both :D ). When it comes to making adjustments in parallel parking spots on hills though, I'm not comfortable unless I use the handbrake, but I don't think that using the handbrake on hills is a sign of weakness.

Yesterday and today, I managed to drive to and from work with almost no nervousness, even with all the hills I drive on.

On another note, when on the flat, I find that I get the smoothest launches when I start out as a no-gas launch and very gently apply the accelerator (probably no more than ~1200 RPM) as the car starts moving. It also allows for quicker release of the clutch and a take-off on par with the automatic drivers around me. Will this technique cause any extra wear? Basically, I add gas once I'm at the friction point, but I want to make sure that this isn't bad for the car.

Thanks to everyone on here who encouraged me to keep at it.

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby Rope-Pusher » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:01 pm

MH86 wrote:On another note, when on the flat, I find that I get the smoothest launches when I start out as a no-gas launch and very gently apply the accelerator (probably no more than ~1200 RPM) as the car starts moving. It also allows for quicker release of the clutch and a take-off on par with the automatic drivers around me. Will this technique cause any extra wear? Basically, I add gas once I'm at the friction point, but I want to make sure that this isn't bad for the car.

Thanks to everyone on here who encouraged me to keep at it.

Good to hear of your progress. That new launching technique shouldn't cause any problems. To me, learning to drive by starting with no-gas launches is a simplified method of launching, with only the clutch pedal position / rate of release needing to be controlled. After no-gas launches are mastered, adding some throttle as the clutch starts grabbing is the next step in mastery of the Amish ways. Eventually, you'll be able to pick the rpm you want to launch at, be it highr or lower than 1,200, and see-saw between the clutch pedal release and stepping into the accelerator pedal to get the acceleration you are seeking.
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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby Teamwork » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:13 pm

A lot of it is trial and error too for first gear launches whether it be on level ground or an incline. Maybe too much gas is being set and it'll catch you off guard? Maybe too little gas and too quick on the clutch lift off and it'll buck... Once you have enough tries in your book and you can start to identify what is going wrong, or what is going right things will get significantly better. It takes time and even today I'm trying to refine myself to being more consistent and efficient. I pretty much do exactly what you do with adding gas/setting gas simultaneously with getting into the friction point in 1st. I barely use no-gas launches for anything other than situational purposes and honestly on LI you'd be damned too IMO. I set the gas basically to where you put it and even sometimes a bit higher (1500 rpm) if I'm negotiating an incline or trying to get out faster.

I wouldn't really worry about the parallel parking on hills. I try and avoid doing so myself if possible and I know that might not be an option for where you're at but I'd say with more experience you'll get better at it.

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby MH86 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:43 am

Teamwork wrote:
A lot of it is trial and error too for first gear launches whether it be on level ground or an incline. Maybe too much gas is being set and it'll catch you off guard? Maybe too little gas and too quick on the clutch lift off and it'll buck... Once you have enough tries in your book and you can start to identify what is going wrong, or what is going right things will get significantly better. It takes time and even today I'm trying to refine myself to being more consistent and efficient. I pretty much do exactly what you do with adding gas/setting gas simultaneously with getting into the friction point in 1st. I barely use no-gas launches for anything other than situational purposes and honestly on LI you'd be damned too IMO. I set the gas basically to where you put it and even sometimes a bit higher (1500 rpm) if I'm negotiating an incline or trying to get out faster.

What you're saying is making me feel like I'm getting to a good point with manual driving, although it'll obviously be awhile before I'm fully proficient - I realize that might take 10k+ miles of driving.

Teamwork wrote:I wouldn't really worry about the parallel parking on hills. I try and avoid doing so myself if possible and I know that might not be an option for where you're at but I'd say with more experience you'll get better at it.

Thankfully I do have off-street parking (so long as I'm not too lazy about walking the few blocks to/from). For now, I've been practicing parking on minor inclines, the ones where my car can easily no-gas launch. I guess the main point here is that I have to give myself some time to gain experience.

I have one more question about launching: how bad is it if I'm finding the friction point just before I move my foot from the brake to the accelerator on flat ground (I already know this is acceptable on inclines)? I've caught myself doing that a few times and want to consciously stop if that's bad. Let me be clear - as soon as the clutch starts to grab, I'm accelerating and releasing it - I'm NOT holding it there for a long time.

Sorry for all these walls of texts - I haven't found answers to these questions in other threads.

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby Teamwork » Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:58 am

What you're saying is making me feel like I'm getting to a good point with manual driving, although it'll obviously be awhile before I'm fully proficient - I realize that might take 10k+ miles of driving.

I think it's important not to necessarily put a # or time line on becoming proficient because it just adds pressure to believe/think you have to be good/great at a certain point. It's not like 10k is going to hit and you're magically going to gain some super ability or level. I felt like I learned at a slower then average pace personally. No shame here?

I have one more question about launching: how bad is it if I'm finding the friction point just before I move my foot from the brake to the accelerator on flat ground (I already know this is acceptable on inclines)? I've caught myself doing that a few times and want to consciously stop if that's bad. Let me be clear - as soon as the clutch starts to grab, I'm accelerating and releasing it - I'm NOT holding it there for a long time.

I don't believe it's bad and probably done on some sort of level with most but I don't really understand if it's not an incline (or even if it was in my case) why you'd need to hold the brake. Hill start assist on these vehicles will do essentially the same and release as soon as throttle is input. On level ground I'm sure there is slight translation between me releasing the brake and going into the friction point but I'm usually adding gas simultaneously so that would equate my foot is clearly off the brake unless I had 3 feet :shock:

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby tankinbeans » Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:42 am

No shame at all. I'm still a bit goofy with 70k under my belt across 4 cars. I'm still learning, but the ick factor has subsided greatly.

Keeps me engaged because there is always something you can adjust for smoothness, quickness, or any variables. I find it keeps me awake more than my Buick.
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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby MH86 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:19 pm

Teamwork wrote:
What you're saying is making me feel like I'm getting to a good point with manual driving, although it'll obviously be awhile before I'm fully proficient - I realize that might take 10k+ miles of driving.

I think it's important not to necessarily put a # or time line on becoming proficient because it just adds pressure to believe/think you have to be good/great at a certain point. It's not like 10k is going to hit and you're magically going to gain some super ability or level. I felt like I learned at a slower then average pace personally. No shame here?

Of course. I knew I shouldn't have specified a number. Honestly, I feel like I'm learning at a slower than average pace as well, even though I've barely had the car 5 weeks. I meant to say that I realize it'll take me some time to be proficient. I am definitely not using any time or mileage milestones. Progress will happen when I don't pay attention to it - in fact, my 1-2 shifts stopped causing violent whiplash once I stopped focusing on it. I'm sure the same will happen for the slight tug I now get on that 1-2 shift instead.

I have one more question about launching: how bad is it if I'm finding the friction point just before I move my foot from the brake to the accelerator on flat ground (I already know this is acceptable on inclines)? I've caught myself doing that a few times and want to consciously stop if that's bad. Let me be clear - as soon as the clutch starts to grab, I'm accelerating and releasing it - I'm NOT holding it there for a long time.

I don't believe it's bad and probably done on some sort of level with most but I don't really understand if it's not an incline (or even if it was in my case) why you'd need to hold the brake. Hill start assist on these vehicles will do essentially the same and release as soon as throttle is input. On level ground I'm sure there is slight translation between me releasing the brake and going into the friction point but I'm usually adding gas simultaneously so that would equate my foot is clearly off the brake unless I had 3 feet :shock:

As for on level ground, maybe I'm just noticing that slight transition you're mentioning from brake to gas as the clutch comes up. While I know that hill start assist will hold the brakes for me for ~2 seconds, the fact that it'll only hold for 2 seconds makes me feel pressured. While I'll experiment with trusting it more, I feel more comfortable with lining up the friction point while my foot is on the brakes (even though I'm pretty sure I find it within 2 seconds in that situation too).

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby Teamwork » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:06 am

Of course. I knew I shouldn't have specified a number. Honestly, I feel like I'm learning at a slower than average pace as well, even though I've barely had the car 5 weeks. I meant to say that I realize it'll take me some time to be proficient. I am definitely not using any time or mileage milestones. Progress will happen when I don't pay attention to it - in fact, my 1-2 shifts stopped causing violent whiplash once I stopped focusing on it. I'm sure the same will happen for the slight tug I now get on that 1-2 shift instead.

I feel like I could of said the same about the 1-2 upshifts and even still so today there's times where I jerk on them. The best part of this hellish commute now is I've had a TON of consistent tries of A) launching in 1st from a standstill and B) 1-2 upshift.

As for on level ground, maybe I'm just noticing that slight transition you're mentioning from brake to gas as the clutch comes up. While I know that hill start assist will hold the brakes for me for ~2 seconds, the fact that it'll only hold for 2 seconds makes me feel pressured. While I'll experiment with trusting it more, I feel more comfortable with lining up the friction point while my foot is on the brakes (even though I'm pretty sure I find it within 2 seconds in that situation too).

It's really an odd sensation and it does take getting used too. You'll literally feel the weight and think "well if I don't do this fast I'm going backwards fast" but it just holds it. 2 seconds might be a lot longer then you think it is too... I literally had some face your fears moments in the beginning done on purpose. I went into a local parking garage and just did nothing and let go of the brake. I timed for one how long it was until I felt my foot came off the brake and starting rolling backwards. It also eased my nerves in a way because I got used to the feeling so it wasn't something surprising if it did happen.

On a side note, about the foot coming off the brake and overlap and such... I feel that in the few times I've sat at a stop without my foot on the brake on level ground that when trying to launch at times that it effects my muscle memory slightly. Not to the point where I'll stall or anything but at times not so smooth or graceful because I'm so used to going quick off the brake to set the gas as opposed to having my right foot just sitting around. Distance and timing... muscle memory is an intriguing thing.

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby MH86 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:35 pm

I think it's just the sensation of working both feet that I'm getting used to.

On another note, on my drive home, I encountered my worst nightmare situation: uphill traffic jam. I stalled the first time I tried inching up, and then peeled out because I was nervous about stalling again. Wow, that was quite the surprise. At least that didn't turn into an endless chain of stalling. I won't lie, though, that definitely rattled my nerves a bit.

On the next stretch of uphill traffic, I also had to change lanes. I didn't stall or peel out that time, but I did rev to just over 2200 RPM. How bad is that for the clutch? I don't want to fuss over every little thing, but I also don't want to develop bad habits.

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby theholycow » Thu Jun 30, 2016 6:56 pm

It's fine that you did it. It would be bad to allow it to turn into a habit. Don't sweat it; with practice you'll improve...it will just feel like forever.
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MH86
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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby MH86 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:39 pm

theholycow wrote:It's fine that you did it. It would be bad to allow it to turn into a habit. Don't sweat it; with practice you'll improve...it will just feel like forever.

Whew, OK. I really need to stop worrying about these little learning mistakes.

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby Rope-Pusher » Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:55 pm

MH86 wrote:
theholycow wrote:It's fine that you did it. It would be bad to allow it to turn into a habit. Don't sweat it; with practice you'll improve...it will just feel like forever.

Whew, OK. I really need to stop worrying about these little learning mistakes.


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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby Teamwork » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:57 pm

MH86 wrote:I think it's just the sensation of working both feet that I'm getting used to.

On another note, on my drive home, I encountered my worst nightmare situation: uphill traffic jam. I stalled the first time I tried inching up, and then peeled out because I was nervous about stalling again. Wow, that was quite the surprise. At least that didn't turn into an endless chain of stalling. I won't lie, though, that definitely rattled my nerves a bit.

On the next stretch of uphill traffic, I also had to change lanes. I didn't stall or peel out that time, but I did rev to just over 2200 RPM. How bad is that for the clutch? I don't want to fuss over every little thing, but I also don't want to develop bad habits.

The two feet working together aspect does take time getting used to also. I grew up playing guitar/bass and being pretty good with my hands but I could never get behind a drum set and keep a rhythm with my feet and hands. Took some hardcore conditioning I'd say on my part with the car but really you need to be having your limbs working in unison.

Up hill traffic jam? Yeah that's really not desirable. A lot of it really has to do with psyche and approach though aside from actual technique. I feel like if I'm really worrying about whats going on behind me or have time idling at a red light doing nothing that sometimes I would psyche myself out. Keeping a clear head when you can could really benefit you. Just keep in mind what you need to do and not worry about the "bad things" until they actually happen.

I really don't want to keep bringing it up and seeming like I'm being sarcastic about it but when you're in traffic crawls you can get away with no gas launches and low rpm "slow" launches. The part that kind of still freaks on me a little is when I'm first in que at a red light and I know there's a ton of people waiting behind me. I like having that buffer of one car in front of me so I can roll out with there que's and not feel like I'm launching too slow.

I think the next thing for me personally is trying to be able to launch quicker out of 1st gear. I feel like I really baby into it (for smoothness sake) and then if I want to really go I wind out 1st and 2nd.

Do you have a gear guide on your jetta though? I have one in my GTI and I honestly sought to attempt to turn it off via vag-com/VCDS but it seems like no such thing would be done. It's kind of funny to me because whenever it actually asks me to down shift- it's literally at a point where the engine is juddering and laboring so badly. It wants me in 6th gear by 40 mph too spinning at 1000-1100 rpms...

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby MH86 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:12 am

Teamwork wrote:
MH86 wrote:I think it's just the sensation of working both feet that I'm getting used to.

On another note, on my drive home, I encountered my worst nightmare situation: uphill traffic jam. I stalled the first time I tried inching up, and then peeled out because I was nervous about stalling again. Wow, that was quite the surprise. At least that didn't turn into an endless chain of stalling. I won't lie, though, that definitely rattled my nerves a bit.

On the next stretch of uphill traffic, I also had to change lanes. I didn't stall or peel out that time, but I did rev to just over 2200 RPM. How bad is that for the clutch? I don't want to fuss over every little thing, but I also don't want to develop bad habits.

The two feet working together aspect does take time getting used to also. I grew up playing guitar/bass and being pretty good with my hands but I could never get behind a drum set and keep a rhythm with my feet and hands. Took some hardcore conditioning I'd say on my part with the car but really you need to be having your limbs working in unison.
Up hill traffic jam? Yeah that's really not desirable. A lot of it really has to do with psyche and approach though aside from actual technique. I feel like if I'm really worrying about whats going on behind me or have time idling at a red light doing nothing that sometimes I would psyche myself out. Keeping a clear head when you can could really benefit you. Just keep in mind what you need to do and not worry about the "bad things" until they actually happen.

Just the other day here I said that I was beginning to get the hang of hill starts, the difference there being that I nearly always got to watch cross-traffic so that the second my light turned green, I was ready to get moving. Yesterday's traffic jam was at an offramp (with no lights) where up this point, the worst I had to do was momentarily (for only a few seconds) balance the clutch and gas to keep steady as traffic started moving. You're definitely right that I shouldn't pay too much attention to traffic behind me - my best driving has been in such cases.

Even though I was frustrated yesterday, I feel like I'm at a point where I need to fine-tune my approach rather than "I give up!" I mean, I got my hill start right the second time traffic stopped and started moving, so I think I am starting to get the hang of it. This weekend, I need to practice some more hill starts, and maybe I'll make a conscious effort to do them slowly, as if I were inching up in traffic. Up until this point, most of my hill starts were of the kind where I was able to move off and accelerate up to 20+ mph.

I really don't want to keep bringing it up and seeming like I'm being sarcastic about it but when you're in traffic crawls you can get away with no gas launches and low rpm "slow" launches. The part that kind of still freaks on me a little is when I'm first in que at a red light and I know there's a ton of people waiting behind me. I like having that buffer of one car in front of me so I can roll out with there que's and not feel like I'm launching too slow.

I take every possible opportunity to no-gas launch. When I'm driving around Queens (where nearly every traffic light is timed with a walk signal countdown) and I'm the lead car at a red light, I start no-gas launching when cross traffic's walk signal only has a few seconds left so that I'm fully off the clutch once my light turns green.

I think the next thing for me personally is trying to be able to launch quicker out of 1st gear. I feel like I really baby into it (for smoothness sake) and then if I want to really go I wind out 1st and 2nd.

You and me both. Although I think I should focus on more consistent smooth launches before I go for speed. Although I've noticed that I can launch quickly and smoothly when I don't overthink it - for example, the other day, I was about to no-gas launch for a left turn at a busy intersection and decided to add some gas to the launch. I was quite surprised at how well I did and that saved me from having to judge additional oncoming traffic headed downhill.

Do you have a gear guide on your jetta though? I have one in my GTI and I honestly sought to attempt to turn it off via vag-com/VCDS but it seems like no such thing would be done. It's kind of funny to me because whenever it actually asks me to down shift- it's literally at a point where the engine is juddering and laboring so badly. It wants me in 6th gear by 40 mph too spinning at 1000-1100 rpms...

That gear guide is awful. Mine also tells me to downshift once the engine is already juddering like crazy. In addition, it frantically wants me to downshift from 2-1 whenever my speed gets under 10 mph, even if I'm about to tap the gas again and be at 10 mph (like when I'm creeping in traffic). In addition, it suggests upshifts at 2000 rpm (sometimes less), which usually way too soon in crazy NY traffic. Basically, I ignore that thing and go by ear/feel/rpm. I must say, though, that I like being able to quickly see what gear I'm in if I've been at steady speed for awhile, although I'm beginning to develop a memory for what gear I'm in without looking.

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Re: New Member - First-time Manual Driver

Postby Teamwork » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:51 am

You're definitely right that I shouldn't pay too much attention to traffic behind me - my best driving has been in such cases.

My mind wanders and I hated really long ques. I was living in a fantasy that every light was going to stay green for me and that I would be able to really minimize 1st gear launches... or at least that's what my psyche wanted. Every time I got to a long red light I would think about the bad things that could happen- it was counter productive for sure.

quote]This weekend, I need to practice some more hill starts, and maybe I'll make a conscious effort to do them slowly, as if I were inching up in traffic.[/quote]
Do it up. Also, like I said in prior posts maybe purposely try and find a hill in a secluded parking lot and roll backwards purposely. Get accustomed to the sensation and get used to how the hill start assist functions. Inch up, stop completely, wait 4-5 seconds, and try it again (simulating a traffic crawl).

I take every possible opportunity to no-gas launch. When I'm driving around Queens (where nearly every traffic light is timed with a walk signal countdown) and I'm the lead car at a red light, I start no-gas launching when cross traffic's walk signal only has a few seconds left so that I'm fully off the clutch once my light turns green.

We are just starting to implement those cross signals on LI. Most major roads have them (where this makes sense since if you got caught in the middle you might be in a tough spot) but many of the localized roads don't. The two only time I can really think specifically in regular traffic that I do a no gas launch is if I'm facing a moderate/steep decline at a stop or if I'm crawling in bumper to bumper traffic and I am unsure how far we'll be moving up but the car in front of me slowly creeps forward. For everything else I pretty much use at least a bit of gas to aid me in the launch.

That gear guide is awful. Mine also tells me to downshift once the engine is already juddering like crazy. In addition, it frantically wants me to downshift from 2-1 whenever my speed gets under 10 mph, even if I'm about to tap the gas again and be at 10 mph (like when I'm creeping in traffic). In addition, it suggests upshifts at 2000 rpm (sometimes less), which usually way too soon in crazy NY traffic.

Really funny that you said that in the last sentence... I joke with another MK7 owner that you can't survive shifting at 2k on LI- they need to tune it for LI aggressive driving. I usually shift out of 1st pretty leisurely at at least 2.5k and then 2nd gear really depends on what my intent is. 10 Mph is also a sweet spot for my car too... I can either slip the clutch for longer in 2nd at 7-8 mph or attempt to not buck getting back into 1st. I don't think my car tells me to 2>1 downshift though unless I'm in 2nd and under like 6 mph which by then I'm juddering if not killed. That's literally the only time it will indicate to downshift too when it's like an extreme situation. I think if I'm in 6th gear and reach below 34 mph it'll finally tell me to downshift even though at that point I'm driving with a dead engine essentially. I know it's tuned for fuel economy but it's pretty obnoxious that you don't even have an option to disable it.


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