Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

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lyonsroar
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Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by lyonsroar » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:21 pm

Hi,

I just bought a 2009 MazdaSpeed3 last Saturday. She rolled over 19k on the way home from picking her up. This is my first manual car, but before buying it I had approximately 4 hours of seat time with my dad's Mini Cooper S. I was getting pretty good with the Mini, but then I hopped into my new MS3 and it's a whole different animal, in a good way and a bad way.

I cannot for the life of me get a smooth launch. I think what I do is find the friction point, panic and give it too much gas and dump the clutch all the way out. VERY jerky starts! :(
I've been reading up on the forums, but any advice out there for this specific car?

Also, my dad taught me how to drive the manual and told me that it's not necessary to give any gas when downshifting, just downshift and let the clutch out slowly. I believe that is a bad thing, am I right? I think I should be giving it gas to match the RPM's that the new lower gear will be at.

I am kind of frustrated at this point, I keep telling myself that I've only been driving it a little over a week so I'm not doing THAT bad, but I keep thinking that I should have it down by now. I am also terrified that I am ruining this car with my jerky shifts and crappy launches.
:(

Any advice out there?
Thanks!
:)



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Rope-Pusher
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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by Rope-Pusher » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:58 pm

^ Has Dad tried driving it? It might be more difficult to drive smoothly than his Mini and you are still early in your learning curve. Give it time and go someplace stress-free to practice, like an empty school parking lot - plenty of those this time of year!

If launching from a standstill is giving you problems, just practice that for a while. Also, try just letting the engine idle and letting out the clutch slowly and smoothly enough to get it rolling w/o stalling. Also, Also, right as the clutch starts grabbing and the engine rpm droops and the car starts moving, hesitate from letting the clutch pedal up - as the engine speed and clutch speed begin to synchronize, the clutch slippage drops off by itself. If you are letting up on the pedal as the slippage is naturally dropping off, it will grab hard and cause a jerk. Did you know that "Jerk" is a term defining the time derivative of acceleration? That's just science, nothing to be ashamed of!
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lyonsroar
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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by lyonsroar » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:03 pm

Rope-Pusher wrote:^ Has Dad tried driving it? It might be more difficult to drive smoothly than his Mini and you are still early in your learning curve. Give it time and go someplace stress-free to practice, like an empty school parking lot - plenty of those this time of year!

If launching from a standstill is giving you problems, just practice that for a while. Also, try just letting the engine idle and letting out the clutch slowly and smoothly enough to get it rolling w/o stalling. Also, Also, right as the clutch starts grabbing and the engine rpm droops and the car starts moving, hesitate from letting the clutch pedal up - as the engine speed and clutch speed begin to synchronize, the clutch slippage drops off by itself. If you are letting up on the pedal as the slippage is naturally dropping off, it will grab hard and cause a jerk. Did you know that "Jerk" is a term defining the time derivative of acceleration? That's just science, nothing to be ashamed of!
My dad is the one that test drove it for me and drove it back to the house. He says it drives like his Mini does in sport mode.

So, get the clutch pedal to the point where I feel it engage, pause, add a little gas, and then let it the rest of the way out slowly.

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cimbali
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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by cimbali » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:11 pm

nice car!

I am still real new to manual transmissions but I finally am able to get a smooth launch after reading various tips on this forum and practicing them on my daily commute. Basically, I now bring the rpms to just over idle or higher (depending upon how fast I want to launch) and hold it there as I let off the clutch to the friction point. Thereafter, I slowly move past the friction point while adding more throttle (i.e., balancing the throttle and clutch).

With my car, I was getting jerky upshifts due to the rpms falling real fast and me shifting real slow.... I now try to upshift shift quickly and at higher rpms to try to minimize any jerkiness. And I generally don’t use any throttle during upshifts.
BMW 328i e90
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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by Jon2000 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:27 pm

Hello and welcome!

Sounds like my story! I came across this website back in December/January when I bought my first manual transmission car - a 2007 Mazdaspeed3 in crystal white pearl (I had the same amount of prior seat time as well). I went through the exact same issues as yourself. I've had experienced manual drivers get in my car and drive it like crap.

A couple things I found I have/had to focus on are:
1) be super smooth and sensitive with the gas pedal - especially after coming from an automatic - you need very fine movement/precision - it seems far touchier than the other manual cars I have driven
2) be extremely sensitive to the friction point on the clutch - it's very easy to pass right through it and have the clutch engage and give your neck a jolt

Go to a parking lot (maybe after hours at your work) to practice. Try to apply very light pressure on the gas pedal and hold it steady so you don't hear the revs increasing and at the same time very slowly lift the clutch. Freeze your clutch foot as soon as the car starts to move - do this for about a half a second then very very lightly increase the gas (don't think of any movement, just a tiny bit of pressure) while trying to ease the pressure off the clutch (again no movement, just ease off the pressure). If you feel the revs dropping and you know it's going to jerk, put the smallest amount of pressure back on the clutch (don't slam the clutch back in or you will get jolted) to let things sync up.

I started a topic a while back on this site for the very same issues: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=12541

I'm really hard on myself when I can't do things perfectly after a short amount of time and driving standard with this car was one of them. Try not to get too frustrated as it really makes it harder to learn and concentrate. Focus on getting better and know that you will. Many others on here will say you just need practice and will most likely suggest trying no-gas launches. You can get this car moving on flat ground with no gas. Very slowly release the clutch until you feel the car move - hold the clutch maybe a half-second to full second and continue slowly releasing it as the car picks moves along slowly. This teaches you exactly where the clutch grabs and gets you used to pausing on the clutch as it is very grabby and abrupt (the friction zone is more of a point rather than a zone). When I first got the car I was happy just to be able to get around in traffic and be driving a standard. I've been focusing on getting more smooth and having more control/restraint and hopefully becoming a better manual driver. I've always been told that the clutch in this car is built tough and can withstand some punishment. Don't lose sleep if you beat it up a little in the beginning.

I hope this very long post helps you out a little. LOL .....just typed this as other members were replying.

Jon

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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by lyonsroar » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:35 pm

^read your whole thread already! :lol:

I've got a great parking lot really close by, but I HATE it with a passion! :evil:
It's frustrating to drive in an empty parking lot, especially with a performance car such as this that I just want to take out on the road and ENJOY! I haven't really gotten to enjoy the car yet...

I bet you're right though. It couldn't hurt.

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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by FDSpirit » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:04 pm

Welcome to the site! :) . I'd just like to say for downshifts, you should make some type of attempt to rev-match. There are going to be times when you may need to do a 4 to 2 or a 6 to 4 or 5 to 3 downshift. The result of not matching those might....hurt.
2000 Honda Civic Si- Slightly faster than your grandmomma's grocery getter......slightly.

lyonsroar
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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by lyonsroar » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:08 pm

FDSpirit wrote:Welcome to the site! :) . I'd just like to say for downshifts, you should make some type of attempt to rev-match. There are going to be times when you may need to do a 4 to 2 or a 6 to 4 or 5 to 3 downshift. The result of not matching those might....hurt.
But downshifting like from 4-3 or 3-2 without rev-matching is OK? Just trying to get it straight before I learn how to do it the wrong way. I don't downshift often because I prefer to use the brakes, but I need to know how to do it correctly.

Thanks!

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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by FDSpirit » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:25 pm

Sorry if I worded that wrong. You should try to rev-match all your downshifts. Those just have greater RPM changes when doing the downshifts.
2000 Honda Civic Si- Slightly faster than your grandmomma's grocery getter......slightly.

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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by Jon2000 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:26 pm

lyonsroar wrote:^read your whole thread already! :lol:

I've got a great parking lot really close by, but I HATE it with a passion! :evil:
It's frustrating to drive in an empty parking lot, especially with a performance car such as this that I just want to take out on the road and ENJOY! I haven't really gotten to enjoy the car yet...

I bet you're right though. It couldn't hurt.
If you want to enjoy it just get it onto the highway and hammer it - watch the cars behind you disappear quickly! lol

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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by theholycow » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:35 pm

Seems we have a lot of new users lately who are starting on a MS3. Must be popular this year.

Jon2000's post answers your launching questions the same way I would. Do the tedious unpleasant work of practicing no-gas launches in a parking lot and your left foot will be thoroughly trained. Also, while parked, do rev-matching practice, aiming in increments of 500 and then 200 RPM at various levels, to train your right foot.

Downshifting without rev-matching is OK. Driving full-throttle towards a red light and then stomping on the brake just before you get there is OK too. Neither is the best way to drive, though.

Advantages of non-rev-matched downshifting:
- No learning curve

Advantages of rev-matched downshifting:
- Extended clutch life
- Smoother ride
- No patience required
- The usual reason to downshift is because you need to accelerate in a hurry. Rev-matching gets you accelerating sooner.

Edit: Speaking of dads...I was talking to my dad about my Buick project and he asked why I would need to modify or replace the brake pedal. While explaining that to him I mentioned heel-toe (not by name, but rather by description), and he said he never did that. Back when he drove stick, he was driving 1950s to 1970s American full-size cars and pickups which definitely did not have a handbrake...they must have had decent idle torque for clutch-hold hill launches!
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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by fa22raptorf22 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:38 pm

The guide to no-hassle smooth starts:

1) get used to the throttle in neutral. Get used to being off the gas, and then quickly getting on it to rev to about 1500. Make sure that you can consistanly give it a hair of throttle. Memorize this feeling.

2) Then, stick the car in 2nd or 3rd with your foot on the brake and the clutch down. Come up on the clutch until the revs dip slightly, then push it back to the floor. Do this a few times and memorize the position.

3) Now stick the car in 1st (while on the brake with the clutch down!)

4) Now come up on the clutch to the point found in step (2). (you are still on the brake)

5) Once you come to that "friction point", let go of the brake, and add the amount of gas memorized in step (1).

6) Add a little more clutch to keep the rpm just at about 1000, give or take. **Hold the clutch constant at that point!
The car will pick up a little speed, while keeping both the clutch and gas constant. Then once the car has moved fast enough to meet the engine speed...just let go of the clutch and accelerate.

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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by watkins » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:34 pm

Or just drive until you get it right. You learn more from trial and error.
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RxnMan
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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by RxnMan » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:30 am

Hi there,

I can't offer much help in the way of driving technique as I am pretty new myself to stick, but I can tell you that you have no reason to be depressed, its normal I think. The first week I was extremely frustrated as well w/ my driving: my starts blew, stalled at almost every red light on my way to work, upshifts were rough as hell, and was just in a constant overall state of sucking. Once I stopped worrying that I was not "getting it" quickly as everyone else did though, things got much better. After a couple weeks you just get better even if you don't really try. You get familiar w/ the behavior of the car and as a result your ride smooths out.

Regarding your starts, the main thing that gave me trouble:

Dont worry needlessly about your clutch. Don't be afraid to hold the clutch at the friction point for a bit while it syncs up. My problem was I was paranoid about clutch wear and was letting the clutch out way too fast.

Hope this helped somewhat :) Good Luck!

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Re: Brand new manual driver...a little depressed

Post by Bawked » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:26 am

manuals take skill to operate, think of it as a challenge, you will never be perfect, some days you will come close, practice makes (closer to) perfect.
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