Learning to drive stick

I tried to teach my boyfriend to drive my stick, and he killed the car several times. After just 10 minutes of this, I quickly gave up. I was shocked to see how much this damaged my car! It still runs, but it feels totally different and seems to be kind of limping along. Should I get it to a mechanic right away even though it still runs, or is it ok to wait until it’s really broken before taking it in? If I don’t take it in right away, is this the sort of thing where it is likely to break down on me suddenly and strand me or is it something that will get progressively worse, giving me time to plan out a trip to the mechanic? Is this going to be super expensive to fix? (My car is a 2001 ford focus ZX2)


If this 10 minute lession involved high reving of the engine; much jerking; along with the stalling, the clutch might be hurt. How many miles on on this Focus?

You might just monitor the holding ability of the clutch. Sometimes gentle driving can rejuvenate an overheated clutch. But, if you see the RPM zooming when the vehicle speed is not, you may be looking at a new clutch disc at a minimum and a clutch kit at the maximum. If you see signs of slipping, drive the car gently and do not go too fast on the freeway until you can get the clutch replaced. Otherwise, you might get stranded on the side of the road or in the middle of the road if traffic is heavy. The clutch replacement will be approximately $1000 to do. Maybe, you can get BF to chip in – make him feel guilty for damaging your car.

I was shocked to see how much this damaged my car! It still runs, but it feels totally different and seems to be kind of limping along.

You’ll need to give a better description of the symptoms. Usually, the issue with teaching someone to drive a stick shift results in accelerated wear on the clutch, and a weird smell which is the clutch getting overheated. Since you don’t mention this, it’s not clear that the clutch is your problem. Does the engine rev up and the car doesn’t go? If so, then your clutch is toast, and due for replacement asap. But the problem could also be with the hydraulic system, not the clutch. If you didn’t smell anything during your lesson, then I don’t think your clutch is the issue. At the very least, find out how to check the fluid in the clutch master cylinder, and if it’s low, get it filled and report that back here.

Regardless, if this is the original clutch in the car, it’s probably about at the end of its expected life anyway given the age of the car. How many miles on the car, and do you know if this is the original clutch? Some people get much better life from a clutch than others do, just by their usage pattern and by their skill with the clutch.

Also, for teaching someone to drive a manual transmission, I’d recommend that you look at another thread started by someone learning to use a clutch. It’s currently on the same page as your thread (I think the headline is “tips for a rookie stick shift driver”, or something like that). Where most teachers go wrong is to tell the student to “give it gas” while letting out the clutch. That’s how a clutch gets fried.

Instead, take the learner to an empty parking lot or quiet street. Have them gently raise the clutch pedal WITHOUT giving any gas at all. It’s surprisingly easy to start a car moving without adding gas at all. Repeat that practice until the student can get the car rolling without adding gas at all.

Even for skilled stick shift drivers, they don’t step on the accelerator until the clutch pedal is released. It may look and feel simultaneous, but there’s a tiny delay before pressing the gas which vastly reduces wear on the clutch.

If this is the original clutch in your 01 Focus your boyfriend probably finished off learning to drive a stick shift. So the question is, who’s paying for the new clutch?


@tester "who’s paying for the new clutch?"
And we’re going to find out if he’s a keeper. :=(

I drive automatics only!!

We definitely need a better description of how, specifically, it ‘feels totally different’.

Stalling a car repeatedly can cause it it set a computer code and start running the fuel injection in open loop or ‘limp home’ mode. Did the Check Engine or Service Engine Soon light come on?

Does the car feel and sound normal when it is sitting still idling, or does the engine shake?

Did you ever hear a pop (backfire) when restarting the car after a stall? If so, it may have cracked or disconnected plastic tubing in the inlet air path.

Does the clutch engage at the same point in pedal travel? Does it completely disengage, or is it difficult to change gears?

If boyfriend does not pay for damages caused by you being kind enough to use your time and your car to teach him to drive a stick, dump him.