Buying a 2003 Toyota Matrix for teenagers

Should we buy one for our teenagers to learn how to drive stick?

Sure, why not? Nothing like a 16 year old car to teach a new driver to drive a manual. Considering the new clutch you’ll need will cost more than the car is worth, you can haul it off to the scrapyard.


Totally agree with Mustangman, Our drivers ed cars were automatics, but my parents’ car was a stick. Once I had the basics down driving the automatic transmission cars, had no problems with the stick shift.
The skill has served me well over fifty years.

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I am going to say the manual idea should be put off until the new drivers have experience . I really want a new driver to have both hands on the steering wheel and not looking down to see where the shift lever is or rolling back into me on an uphill incline because they can’t handle the 3 pedals.

When I turned 16 I learned to drive stick on a 94 Saturn Sedan (so it would’ve been around 10 years old at the time). My dad had me learn on his Caravan and mom’s Corolla prior to taking my driving test and until I felt comfortable driving them around before he taught me to drive stick in the Saturn. Glad he did, I had far fewer friends try to borrow my car since they couldn’t drive stick!

OP didn’t say how old the teenagers are or how much driving experience they have.
Setting those issues aside, knowing how to drive a manual is a worthy skill to have on principle, IMHO.
I owned a manual 2006 Matrix for 11 years (2007-2018).
It was reliable and protected my wife and I well when a hit-and-run totaled it last year.
If you buy it I recommend you change the transmission oil along with whatever other maintenance you’ll do from the start.

I think knowing how to drive a stick is as useful in today’s world as knowing how to start a car using a hand crank.


If I had kids, whom I had to teach to drive a car, I would insist on a car with m/t.
A person capable of driving a stick shift can drive an a/t, but not the other way around.
Here, it is not possible to get a drivers test in an automatic. I hope it stay that way.
If you, as a young person, can’t handle the task of control a car and change gears - then you are not ready for the road.
To other responders:
Teenagers might not be the brightest lights, but let’s not make them more stupid than they are.

If the car is in good and “reliable” condition, I think the idea is as brillant as it can be.

I Know how a slipping clutch behave, but none of them have been in any of my cars.

I would wait for them to become capable drivers of an automatic, then maybe put a manual into the mix.

My first driving experiences were with manual transmission cars while in my early teens: in rural off-road settings northwest of Chicago and in Louisiana; a WW2 surplus Jeep and a Corvair, respectively. Most young people didn’t have that luxury and today even fewer do…

I fail to see the problem learning to drive on a manual. I started driving on a manual transmission and didn’t have a problem and didn’t cause an early demise of the clutch. The cars with manual transmissions were mostly three speed with a column shift. The first gear was not synchronized. I learned how to double clutch so I could shift from a higher gear into first without grinding the gears.
Maybe instructions on why different gear ratios are needed to get the car underway and then reduce the engine rpm at higher speeds and an understanding of why the clutch is needed would help the new driver in learning to shift a manual transmission.


I agree with you, but let us not forget all of the people–and there seem to be a LOT of them–who have driven the same automatic transmission car for many years, and who cannot seem to figure out how to move from D to P or R without looking at their shift lever.

Apparently, these folks have never noticed that modern cars have a read-out for their automatic trans on the instrument panel. But, even before that innovation, I seemed to be able to manage to move my shift lever just from sense memory.

If you don’t believe me, take a careful look at the people around you, and you are sure to see that many of them can’t figure out how to move their automatic shift lever without peering at it intently.

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In Denmark where I think you are the driving age is 18 years old. You also have very strict requirements to obtain a license. Here in the US it is 16 and the requirements are really not that demanding . Also we have many places that finding a open place to teach manual shift or places that don’t have such crowded traffic that a new driver can stay out of trouble . Many of our high schools at last hour have become almost grid lock because so many students have vehicles and the ones that don’t are being picked up be parents .

Yup, I remember clearly when I got my US drivers license, and the drivers test was - to put it VERY nicely - laughable.
That was in Ca, I don’t know if the test differs from state to state.

Unfortunately, they changed that to 17 years old last year. Allthough, a licensed person has to sit in the car at all times until 18 y/o. The 17 y/o don’t comprehend the “other licensed person” part and it shows in the statistic.

But then many people don’t know to go when the light turns green!

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It does vary from state to state as they set their own tests, but I would imagine they’re pretty similar across the board. In my state (Pennsylvania), the most annoying thing is that parallel parking is pass/fail (especially annoying considering 99% of my parking is perpendicular parking). Although you’d never be able to tell driving around cities and towns…

So it is here also and you can’t go through a drivers test without that test. I believe that it should stay that way, because it’s not so much of being able to do a perfect parallel parking, but to get an idea of estimating distances when you are working in tight spaces.


I hadn’t considered that aspect of it…that makes sense. Still, the PA test even with the parallel parking isn’t hard.

Here - let’s say your car in which the test drive is done is 4,5 meters - if need be, they’ll place 2 “plastic” cars with a gap of 6 meters. 1 touch, or more than around 5 inches from the curb when finished - fail. Unless you look darned nice (for the opposite sex)
You also has to go through the course on the ice rink and maneuvering rink (through the driver education school), have a minimun of 10 driving lessons through the school, go through a substantial theori curriculum to take the written test which consists of IIRC 35 pics with 3 answers to each. you better pick the right answers 'cause 4 wrongs, you’re out.
You cannot, as an adult, parent, relative or friend teach anybody on roads or areas accesible by the public (read: mailmann) teach anybody to drive as a private person.

It’s normal for a drivers license here to cost upwards of 1500 USD, but I also believe that a proper education is needed as the death toll here last year went up to 32 dead per 1000000 last year. That’s to many.
Actually, maybe it should be considered low as people here is driving as if they have stolen the car. It’s just crazy.

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Yeah… that too…
Or, how about the people who believe that they need to maintain a distance of at least 8 car lengths behind the preceding car when all of the cars are crawling at less than 10 mph through an intersection?
Between the people who think that they can stop on a dime while tailgating, and the other extreme who can’t fathom that a much shorter following distance is appropriate during low-speed turns, it is hard to understand how some of these folks managed to qualify for a DL.

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Do they want to learn how, or do you think they should know? If you want them to learn, why? Even a lot of sports cars have automatic transmissions these days. I don’t have a problem with them learning, I just wondered why.

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