31 and afraid!


I am 31 and am petrified of a stick shift. My husband wants to get a manual, and he is convinced I can drive it. Can anyone really do this and is it really that much better than an automatic?


It’s easy to do, given a good teacher, and it’s not much better than an automatic.


Did you know that from the invention of the automobile through about the mid-1940’s EVERY car was a stick shift? It’s true! And every single person who learned to drive before then-- including some 31 year olds-- learned to drive stick just fine. Even after then, some states required you to take the driver’s test on a manual transmission well into the 1960’s. So to answer your first question, yes anyone can do it!

As for the second one, um, well, in newer cars there’s no real advantage over an automatic. But a lot of people think they’re more fun to drive-- perhaps even you after you get the hang of it!

EDIT TO ADD: I’d also mention that I’ve taught several people to drive stick including a 28-year old woman who was similarly stick-phobic but who now actually prefers a manual.


Is this going to be your car or his? His, ok, yours, it should be up to you.


Yes you can do it. After you get used to it, it becomes automatic, meaning clutch and shifting can be done w/out thinking about it.

They are not much better than todays automatics. They can be fun to to drive but in stop and go traffic after a long day at work they can be a pain.


Better or worse is a matter of opinion. Yes you can master a stick shift. Call it a learning experience.


Who will be the primary driver of the car, you or him? If you are, you should get to choose.

Learning to drive a stick shift shouldn’t be that hard. I have seen women in their 60s and 70s learn to ride a manual shift motorcycle. In comparison, driving a stick shift car is pretty easy.


My son had no experience with a manual transmission until he met his future wife. When they became engaged, my son hit some tool that was left in the open lane in a construction zone that punctured a hole in both the engine and automatic transmission pans. He had the vehicle towed to a garage and his fiancee loaned him her manual transmission Ford Mustang. He learned to drive the manual in short order. After they were married, he had a manual transmission pickup truck for a while. He and his wife now have a minivan and the Ford Mustang. His wife has back troubles and can’t drive the Mustang, so that has become the car my son drives. I’ve ridden with him and he shifs as though he has done it all his driving career. You won’t have any trouble learning how to drive the shift.


Agree, if this is going to be your car, you call the shots whether it’s going be stick or automatic. Today’s automatics are very efficient, and there’s nothing “moral” about a stick shift if you ask me.

Does your husband have an actual “reason” for wanting to force a stick shift on you?


In our 30’s we should be trying to get away from clutches and gear boxes. If you want to sell one of those primitive models when you’re done with it, you can’t always find a buyer. Many women’s shoes just don’t go with clutch pedals. Manual transmissions are not for everybody. Who needs more misery?


Thanks everyone for your comments. We are trying to purchase a replacement for our beat up broken 1996 Saab…which is automatic. He likes performance, and I want something I can drive in the snow and is relatively small. He is interested in the Subaru WRX which is only manual. Many people have told me “everyone should learn to drive a stick” for various reasons…gas mileage, more control, just cause…etc. I know a lot of people that are generally less coordinated than I that can do it…I think I just have a mental block against it.


A Suaru WRX is an excellent rally car IF YOU RALLY! Otherwise it is a highly tuned, not very comfortable car that will be more expensive to maintain. You will not likely enjoy driving this somewhat “uncivilized” pocket racer. Your husband needs to grow up!

A friend of my son has one of those and bought it when he was 28 years old and single! He does drive rallies!


You’ll be able to do it within an hour or two of your first attempt. You’ll stop stalling out regularly on the 2nd or 3rd day. You’ll be relatively comfortable with it after a week. It will be second nature after two weeks.

If you want to make the process a little easier, don’t go up any hills, particularly where you have to stop.


Most cars get better mileage with an automatic these days. I disagree that there is more control with a stick shift, at least for the type of driving that almost everyone does on public roads.

Maybe you could split the difference and get a car with an automatic transmission that can be shifted manually. The clutch is automatic, but the car can be placed into a manual shift mode. Then you can drive the automatic and he can hot rod around with the manual shift mode. How much do you want to spend, and is this a second car?


The WRX fits all your criteria. It offers good performance, and it’s relatively small and can be driven in the snow. It’s proven to be quite reliable; it doesn’t have the head gasket issues that some Subarus are known for. I almost bought one when I was car shopping a few years back. The 2009-up model is very nice, turbo lag is minimal, and it offers a fine combination of power and fuel economy.

I’m 31 as well, I was forced to learn to drive on a manual transmission (3 on the tree), my dad said it was non-negotiable. I’m glad I learned how to drive a manual, it’s not hard. I picked up in a few hours. Just go to an empty parking lot with someone who knows how to drive stick and practice. Personally don’t think people should be issued driver’s licenses unless they can perform a hill start in a stick shift car. My daily driver is stick shift, my next car will be a stick shift as well.


The 3 on the tree manual you were forced to learn to drive had to be pretty old at the time. The last car I remember seeing with a 3 speed column shift was a 1977 Chevelle. Pickup trucks may have had the 3 speed into the mid-1980’s, but that was still 25 years ago.


As usual it seems,I agree with those (jt and doc) that say, you have as much say as your husband. Let him decide upon the car which may not be a wrx, if you decide upon the auto transmission. IMO, If it’s an only car, it should ALWAYS be an automatic in this day and age. A bad shoulder, knee operation. etc. and your safety will be compromised when that person tries to drive a manual. Whether you think you can learn or not, manuals in this day and age should be second cars. Safety first, plan for emergencies, case closed. He’s short sighted and inconsiderate.

Kick him in the knee real hard with steel toe boots, twist his arm, being sure to tear a rotator cuff muscle, than ask him to take you for a spin in his WRX. If he can’t safely, let him drive himself to the hospital in “your” new auto Subaru sedan to the selfish husband ward and get his attitude fixed first.


An added benefit of a stick shift does not express itself until around the 100,000 mile mark. That’s when the automatics used in FWD cars start failing. Some don’t make it that far…In many cases, repairing these transmissions can be so costly it totals the car…I would also avoid buying a car with a rubber timing belt for the same reason…

Today, very few cars sold in America are equipped with a standard transmission…They are, in fact, hard to find…


Indeed it was. It was my first vehicle, a 1974 Ford F-100. No power steering, no power brakes, no AC,etc. My parent’s theory was that if you could drive it competently then driving newer, nicer, more modern vehicles would be easy.


The standard Subaru Impreza meets all your needs, AWD, small, and it can be had with AUTOMATIC. Your husband will enjoy driving it more than the 1996 Saab!

Masculinity is no longer determined by ability to operate an unnecessary piece of equipment.