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Bad idea to get my daughter a manual if she doesn't know how to drive one?

My 18 year old daughter is ready to buy her first car.  We have noticed that manual transmission cars are slightly cheaper.  I feel that everyone should know how to drive a manual but have not had the guts to teach her on my car as I wish to drive it for many years to come.  How crazy is it to help her buy a manual and then teach her to drive it?  Will she wear out the clutch or do irreversible damage before learning?  We are considering a 2008 Toyota Yaris.  Thanks for any helpful advice.  This is a big decision for her and I don't want to lead her astray!


  • Its not crazy unless she really has issues with hand eye and foot coordination.  I would find a really cheap used clunker of a car with a manual trans and teach her on it so that if you get a 500 dollar car and she messes up the trans its not going to be to bad.  You could also help her get a better used car with a manual trans that wont be an arm and leg to repair should she destroy the clutch or trans but the choice is yours.  Also consider that most new cars are now automatics with sporty models being the few that have manual numbers as fewer and fewer people know how to drive one.
  • It's Not Crazy At All. Taught Properly, It Should Take Only A Few Trials To Become Proficient.

    What Is Crazy Though Is To Put A Young Person In Such A Little, Dangerous Car. She's Got Her Whole Life Ahead. Small cars don't fare well in collisions with large cars, SUVs, and trucks, which are out on the roads is numbers.

    Don't be fooled by recent advances in small car safety. All cars are becoming somewhat safer. In an "accident," physics is on the side of larger vehicles. If savings on gasoline is a concern then earn more money instead.

    I have a 23 year-old driver and a 16 year-old driver. Be the parent. Do your homework. Get something larger. She'll be safer and you'll sleep better.



  • edited May 2011

    By all means, teach your daughter to drive manual transmission.  It's an important skill to have and not at all difficult to learn.  All of my family members learned early-on how to "shift for themselves."  Now we can swap cars whenever necessary.

    And the youngsters, now out on their own and buying their own cars, have each gotten good deals on used cars -- chiefly because they could drive cars with manual transmissions and are happy doing so.

    Whether or not you will actually buy a car with manual transmission is another point entirely, and you can decide later.  I will only mention that a few dollars saved ought not to be the deciding factor.  Consider the driver's comfort level with manual shifting.  Some of us still think it's fun.  The rest are far better off spending the extra bucks on auto transmission.

    The Toyota Yaris is a fine little car.  If that is the family choice, go for it.

  • I think that you should teach her how to drive a stick on your car first, then decide if a manual transmission is right for her.  I'm sure that you don't think your car is more important the she is.  And she won't do much damage to the car.  About the worst that can happen is that the clutch wears out a bit faster.  Just make sure that she errs on the side of letting the clutch out too slowly rather than too quickly.  Dumping the clutch can damage the mechanical components, while slow application might just cause more wear to the mating surfaces.
  • Nope, not crazy at all. I personally think everyone should learn to drive in a manual. If you can drive a car with a manual transmission, you can drive virtually anything on the road.

    There's been more than once I was the only one available when the car "owner" (read person who borrowed Dad's car) ended up not sober enough to drive, and I had to be the safe one. I know, I know, we were all under drinking age, but I was the sober one. Had I not been able to drive a standard, we would have had to call for help...landing us all in trouble.

    Teach her. She'll thank you later.

  • edited May 2011

    This, According To A Wall Street Journal Article Titled:
    Small Cars Are Dangerous Cars        Fuel economy zealots can kill you.

    "Even though the Smart car and other minis such as the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris have fared relatively well in single-car crash tests, they performed poorly in these two-car frontal offset collisions. In the words of IIHS president Adrian Lund, though much safer than they were a few years ago, minicars as a group do a comparatively poor job of protecting people in crashes, simply because they're smaller and lighter."

    "That difference is reflected in the real world. The death rate in minis in multi-vehicle crashes is almost twice as high as that of large cars. And in single-vehicle crashes, where there's no oversized second vehicle to blame, the difference is even greater: Passengers in minis suffered three times as many deaths as in large cars."


    Some of these little cars are apparently cute and attractive to some people. Many people misinterpret the safety testing and ratings. I guess the choice is up to the individual. I choose safety first, MPG second. All the money one saves driving a mini car seems kind of silly after a tragedy. Like I said, do your homework, be the parent.


  • Yes, definitely teach her how to drive a manual.  I taught our daughter about 7 years ago.  Since then her travels have taken her many places in the world where the only rental cars available were manual transmissions.  And several times she was the only one in her group who knew how to drive a manual.

    When she was learning how to drive a manual, she had no clue why I was encouraging her to do so.  Since then she has said several times how glad she is that she knows how.

    Also, here's something I've posted before.  Years ago a father asked if he should teach his daughter how to drive a standard shift.  Someone replied with this, which hit home for me because it was the same experience I had with our daughter:
    Teach her yourself. On a quiet Sunday morning, drive to a big parking
    lot by some circuitous route where you're showing her the basics of
    shifting. Then let her try. When she lets the clutch out for the first
    time, the car will stall. She will immediately look at you for help
    using the same smile she used when she was 6 and you knew everything in
    the universe.

    Remember that precious moment because it may be the last time you'll experience it.

  • What Is Crazy Though Is To Put A Young Person In Such A Little, Dangerous Car

    According To A Wall Street Journal Article Titled:
    Small Cars Are Dangerous Cars 

       While I agree that generally a smaller, lighter car is less safe, all else being equal.  Statics prove that.   However it must be remembered that the most important safety device is the driver.  If you want proper data, you need to adjust for the fact that drivers of small cars are not the same as the general driving public.  

        I would suggest that on average the drivers of small cars are younger and more aggressive drivers than those of large cars. 

        I remember my first static's class look at a General Electric study of street lights in, as I recall Hoboken NJ.     They installed street lamps on all the even numbered streets and left the odd number streets without street lamps.  The result was as expected, crime was reduced.  

        However someone decided to look at a little deeper.   While it did not show up on the original study, the odd numbered streets had crime increase almost equal to the decrease on the even numbered streets.  

        Back on topic, I suggest that today few people need to know manual.  I Have never owned an automatic transmission car.  Both my kids learned on a manual, but not everyone does nor do they need to.   

  • I think the driver's ed classes in almost all schools do a disservice to their students by NOT teaching them to drive with a manual transmission.  I only know of one that does. It's in a rural setting where fathers need their kids to help out by driving wheat trucks during harvest and so forth.

    By all means, teach your daughter to drive one. Not knowing how is akin to being handicapped.  I have taught several people to drive manuals. They include three kids, two sisters, and one daughter in law.  My neice specifically asked for a manual transmission car so her mother, who refused to EVER learn, would not be able to borrow it from her. 

    The trick to teaching it is to start out by letting her observe how you do it.  She's ridden with you all her life, but probably never REALLY watched what you were doing. Then head to a wide open parking lot, like a school on a Sunday. She won't wear out the clutch on the Yaris in question, unless it's already 99% gone. Go for it.  She'll have it down in half an hour.

  • There are three completely separate questions here, and as usual I have opinions on all of them of them.

    Should you buy her a stick-shift car?   Depends on whether she will be driving in congested traffic or moving traffic.  Stick shifts are a real pain after an hour or two in LA-style stop and go traffic.   If traffic is reasonable, she will probably like the stick.  I have never known anyone who simply disliked sticks in general although they knew how to drive them.  My daughters learned sticks at 16 and when they moved up to better cars, they both chose sticks.   Others have expressed concerns about choosing subcompacts.  I would echo those concerns.

    If she learns in a new stick shift car, will she damage it?  Almost zero chance of substantial damage.  My daughters taught all their their friends in high school and college (at least a dozen kids that I know of) how to drive stick in my old Volvo wagon.  All those learners combined shaved a total around 50k miles total off a clutch that would have lasted 150k miles otherwise.

    Is it important that she learn to drive a stick?  Absolutely!  I was touring western Europe last month (Spain, France, and Italy)  Since I have little interest in architecture, I found myself peering in the windows of parallel parked cars as we walked around the cities.  Perhaps one in one hundred cars had an automatic transmission.  The rare automatics I saw were in Mercedes and larger BMWs.   Central/south America is similar.  In Asia most of the private cars are sticks but the tourist rental cars are automatics.

    When my kids were born, I made a mental list of all the skills I would make sure they would learn before they left home, just in case someday they really needed to know.  Among these were:  Swim, drive a stick shift car, perform routine car maintenance, ride a motorcycle, groom-saddle-ride a horse (though we live in the city), assemble and fire several types of firearms (though we own none). 
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