Diving In

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Tagore
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Diving In

Post by Tagore » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:30 am

Hi Everyone,

Good news- I am deciding to abandon my auto transmission and purchase a manual! I am still early in the process and I am glad to have found this forum full of great info. I have a few questions and forgive me if they have been asked before.

I have driven manual cars before though never for extended periods of time to really get comfortable driving one. Only been out for spins in friends' cars and quick lessons. I now live in Seattle, which if you don't know, is surprisingly hilly in addition to our rain. I want to buy a used car (looking pretty seriously at the Honda Fit) though since I am not "fluent" in stick driving, I am concerned about being able to go out for test drives, especially with the hills in Seattle.

Any ideas? I am sure I'm not the first person looking to buy a manual car that isn't too familiar with one. Looking to hear from your experiences about test driving cars off the lot without great skill.

Also, am I totally crazy for wanting to learn in such a hilly city? How long before you all got comfortable on hills?

Thanks!
Tagore

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Boston Fit
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Re: Diving In

Post by Boston Fit » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:14 am

Welcome! I taught myself how to drive stick in a 2010 Honda Fit. It was a great little car, fun to drive in spite of a tiny engine, with gobs of storage space, a small footprint, great fuel economy, and awesome build quality. The downsides were that it revved too high in 5th at highway speeds (>4000 rpm) and wasn't great in the snow, but overall it's great. I can't think of anything better in that price range.

In terms of learning stick, it took me a day or two to learn the very basics and not stall all over the place; a week or two to really get comfortable; and a month or two for things to feel second nature. Then you can spend a lifetime perfecting it. Hills are tricky. You can use the handbrake to anchor yourself on inclines, but first you will need to learn the basics.

If you aren't comfortable test driving a stick, then go to a dealer and test drive an automatic version. Then, plunge right in and buy the stick version. You will learn fast if you have no other choice :-)
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theholycow
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Re: Diving In

Post by theholycow » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:39 am

Boston Fit wrote:If you aren't comfortable test driving a stick, then go to a dealer and test drive an automatic version. Then, plunge right in and buy the stick version. You will learn fast if you have no other choice :-)
I would say test drive the automatic, then bring a trusted friend to test drive the manual with you, then if you're pretty confident that it's the right car for you give it a try yourself...you still need to have driven the car that you're buying before you sign. If the dealer isn't willing to be patient for 10 minutes while you stall and buck and rev and spin, so you can get a feel for how the car handles and such at speed (during the times in which you are cruising, not shifting/launching), then they may not be the right dealer anyway.

When you test-drive it, don't forget that there are things that will feel different than you're used to and not all of them should cause doubts about the condition of the car. The trusted friend can tell you if that's how it should feel. One example is if you're driving in a low gear or at a very low speed it's not going to be smooth without practice...I can imagine someone without experience worrying that that means something is wrong with a car that's in good shape.
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Re: Diving In

Post by tankinbeans » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:56 am

Welcome!

I more or less taught myself in a 2011 Forte and I had a couple hours under my belt in a friend's Mustang GT. With the torque that engine produced it was pretty forgiving even if you weren't bang on perfect. Learning isn't that bad just keep your head about you, don't expect perfection and forgive yourself for botching things.

You will become your own worst enemy if you're not careful.

As for hills, I don't know what I feel about them. They still make me slightly nervous, but I live in a relatively flat state (and haven't had much practice) so it's not as if I'm trying to rip my hair out anytime I come to them.
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Re: Diving In

Post by ClutchFork » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:18 am

I guess you could put those hills to advantage if you test drive it only downhill and let a friend run it back up the hill.

Also I agree with theholycow that test driving an automatic is a good idea to get the general feel of the car.
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theholycow wrote:Why in the world would you even want to be as smooth as an automatic? Might as well just drive an automatic...

ClutchDisc
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Re: Diving In

Post by ClutchDisc » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:48 am

Welcome to the forums!

I bought my first (and current) manual truck before I knew how to drive it.

I agree that test driving the automatic would be a good way to get an overall feel for the car.

As for hills, they didn't take me very long to get accustomed to. Now I don't even think about them.
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Squint
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Re: Diving In

Post by Squint » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:04 pm

Welcome!

The previously mentioned ideas are all good ones, especially having a friend comfortable with manuals (if you aren't that confident yet) test drive it with you. To get accustomed to hills... practice. It really is as simple as practice. I lived for ~1 year in West Virginia, which meant I had hills left/right/front/behind/above/below me. I now have no fear of hills at all in Kentucky, because I could drive straight up the side of a mountain in WV.

So take a lesson from Allen Iverson, "we're talking 'bout practice." :lol:
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Re: Diving In

Post by rml605 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:53 pm

Welcome!

When I went to purchase my car (not dealer, was off Craigslist) I just brought my friend who drives stick who test drove it. Took me about a day or two to get into 1st with no stalling. Shifting smoothly took me a few weeks, and downshifting/rev matching awhile along with hills. I remember it was only 3rd day driving stick and I was on my way to class and got stopped at a hill. I almost had a heart attack. I went to launch and started to release the clutch and I was just moving backwards and my clutch wasn't grabbing. Luckily a car was not on my ass as I forgot to put it into 1st and was still in N! :oops:

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Shadow
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Re: Diving In

Post by Shadow » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:02 pm

Not to discourage you, but are you sure that you'll be happy with a manual? I only say this because driving a stick a few times is kinda like going on vacation. You love it while you're there, but do you really want to live there?

Just make sure that it's not something you'll regret after a few months. The only way to do that is to get as much seat time as possible behind the wheel of a manual transmission vehicle. That's probably easier said than done, unless you have lots of friends with sticks that are nice enough to let you drive their car.
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Re: Diving In

Post by ClutchFork » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:20 pm

Shadow wrote:Not to discourage you, but are you sure that you'll be happy with a manual? I only say this because driving a stick a few times is kinda like going on vacation. You love it while you're there, but do you really want to live there?

Just make sure that it's not something you'll regret after a few months. The only way to do that is to get as much seat time as possible behind the wheel of a manual transmission vehicle. That's probably easier said than done, unless you have lots of friends with sticks that are nice enough to let you drive their car.
Good advice, but... if he has a deep yearning for a stick shift then it is embedded in him too deeply for him to tire of it. My son had that yearning and bought a stick even though he had only tried one for about three launches (and just got his license, so never really drove auto past driver training). He has been driving stick for over a year now and is never turning back. I was the same way, as a kid, every time I rode in a stick shift car it was awesome. Automatics did not get me excited. Especially for muscle cars there was nothing like a stick shift. The 1970 Road Runner 440 with 4-on-the-floor could pin you to the seats out of the hole in first, then when the driver shifted your body would lurch forward for a split second only to be slammed back into the seat as the driver grabbed second. Few automatics can do that, only those set up for racing and then it just isn't the same.
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theholycow wrote:Why in the world would you even want to be as smooth as an automatic? Might as well just drive an automatic...

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Re: Diving In

Post by Shadow » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:16 pm

InlinePaul wrote:
Shadow wrote:Not to discourage you, but are you sure that you'll be happy with a manual? I only say this because driving a stick a few times is kinda like going on vacation. You love it while you're there, but do you really want to live there?

Just make sure that it's not something you'll regret after a few months. The only way to do that is to get as much seat time as possible behind the wheel of a manual transmission vehicle. That's probably easier said than done, unless you have lots of friends with sticks that are nice enough to let you drive their car.
Good advice, but... if he has a deep yearning for a stick shift then it is embedded in him too deeply for him to tire of it. My son had that yearning and bought a stick even though he had only tried one for about three launches (and just got his license, so never really drove auto past driver training). He has been driving stick for over a year now and is never turning back. I was the same way, as a kid, every time I rode in a stick shift car it was awesome. Automatics did not get me excited. Especially for muscle cars there was nothing like a stick shift. The 1970 Road Runner 440 with 4-on-the-floor could pin you to the seats out of the hole in first, then when the driver shifted your body would lurch forward for a split second only to be slammed back into the seat as the driver grabbed second. Few automatics can do that, only those set up for racing and then it just isn't the same.

Yeah, I feel the same way. I wanted nothing to do with buying/driving an automatic car when I was a kid. But I also realize that not everybody feels the same way. I have a cousin who wanted to learn to drive stick in the worst way. Then he went out and purchased a stickshift car. Three months later he had it up for sale because it wasn't what he expected. I don't remember exactly how much he lost when he sold his car, but I do remember him complaining that he took a bath on it.
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Re: Diving In

Post by ClutchFork » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:50 pm

Shadow wrote:Yeah, I feel the same way. I wanted nothing to do with buying/driving an automatic car when I was a kid. But I also realize that not everybody feels the same way. I have a cousin who wanted to learn to drive stick in the worst way. Then he went out and purchased a stickshift car. Three months later he had it up for sale because it wasn't what he expected. I don't remember exactly how much he lost when he sold his car, but I do remember him complaining that he took a bath on it.
It does happen in various areas. Maybe the job someone thinks they want so badly, they get it and hate it, then move on.
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theholycow wrote:Why in the world would you even want to be as smooth as an automatic? Might as well just drive an automatic...

Tagore
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Re: Diving In

Post by Tagore » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:05 pm

Thanks everyone for all of the helpful responses! Some solid and doable strategies for the process that I will definitely look to use.

Shadow - you make a great point. And it is definitely something I am considering seriously, especially considering the loss I'd take if I change my mind. While I'm pretty confident its going to be the right choice for me, I won't really have the opportunity to get a whole lot of practice time, so it will pretty much be gong for it.

In your experiences (shadow and others) what are some things that I might be overlooking as an auto driver that might drive me nuts if I make the jump to manual?

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Re: Diving In

Post by Rope-Pusher » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:11 pm

You, and you alone are responsible for keeping the car from rolling away when you park it. Leave it in low gear and apply the park brake. Most slushboxes won't let you remove the keys unless the shifter is placed in the Park position.
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Re: Diving In

Post by rml605 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:29 pm

Tagore wrote:
In your experiences (shadow and others) what are some things that I might be overlooking as an auto driver that might drive me nuts if I make the jump to manual?
Traffic.

But sitting in traffic whether auto or manual pisses me off. It really doesn't bother me much more sitting in traffic in a stick. Now stop and go traffic on a hill can be a pain.

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