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Manual Transmissions & Driving School Recommendations

Hello! I am looking for a driving school in the Detroit area where I can learn how to drive a stick shift (I already know how to drive an automatic). I have called many driving schools, but none of them teach manual transmissions. This is important, because soon I will go to Europe for a job assignment. Thank you very much, John Knightly

If you don’t mind a little subterfuge, go to a car dealership and pretend to be interested in a car with a manual transmission. VW dealers especially used to give a lot of people quick and dirty stick shift lessons.

One thing I’d point out is that automatics are much more common than they used to be in Europe even a few years ago since the fuel economy advantage is close to nil these days. You can also probably find a car with a CVT, which drive like automatics. It might be embarrassing not being able to drive a stick, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a car you can drive.

Maybe you could put an ad on craigslist offering to pay someone to teach you how to drive a stick shift.

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If you have a manual car at your disposal just go to the nearest parking lot early one morning and practice…there are plenty of web sites that will give advice about clutch out/give gas…practice, practice, etc.

I paid $250 for the motorcycle training. Manual transmission is part of the curriculum whether I needed it or not. There were a few who couldn’t work a manual in our group and they passed. Getting a manual transmission vehicle moving is the toughest part. Shifting is something you can practice on your own when you get a car in Europe.

My son avoided learning driving a manual transmission vehicle until he married a woman who owned a 1995 Mustang with a 5 speed manual transmission. His wife now has back problems and can’t drive the Mustang, so she drives their minivan and he drives the Mustang. After they were married but before she had the back problem, he bought a pickup truck with a manual transmisson for transportation. He learned how to shift gears in less than a day and has no problem. He still prefers driving an automatic, however.

If you want to learn to operate the clutch with your foot and the shifter with your hand, I seriously doubt the best vehicle to learn on is one with a hand-operated clutch and a foot-operated shifter.

Here’s what I recommend. After you move to Europe, ask one of your new friends to teach you. In an empty parking lot, get in the driver’s seat, disengage the clutch (by pressing on the clutch pedal all the way down), start the car, disengage the parking brake, put it in first gear, and without touching the gas pedal, slowly engage the clutch. You might stall the engine a couple times, but it shouldn’t do any harm and you will soon get the hang of the clutch’s friction zone. After that, with a little practice, you will be fine. Save your money.

In Europe, the shifter will probably be on your left instead of the right, so I think you are better off waiting until you get there.

I learned to drive a stick shift car before I attended the MSF course. I did not find it any different than driving my own car. I see no reason why it would not work the other way around. It is not the best vehicle to learn in, as there will be other concepts to master, such as countersteering and powering thru a turn. It would be ideal to buy a car and practice day and night for a month. But this is the closest, most definitive manual driving instruction that I know of short of coming out to sunny Southern California. Google Advanced Driving Dynamics.

Also, I think the driver sits on the port side of a vehicle unless you live in that small island.

Taking the MSF’s Basic Rider’s Course was a lot of fun for me, but renting a car with a manual transmission and getting help from a good friend would probably be a lot cheaper and would definitely take a lot less time.

So, no one knows how to teach manual transmission any more?

I learned back in the 50’s. We had to watch an older person using the transmission and clutch. Then, we were allowed to sit in the car, properly placed so it would not run away, and practice shifting with the engine turned off, until we got it. Over and over and over.

The only part one can’t ‘dry’ practice is the exact engagement procedure, the combination of throttle and clutch engagement, but one can certainly practice the whole shifting sequence otherwise. And, if one has the whole sequence down pat all the way to high gear, so it is in the brain, the actual engagement procedure is the only part, and it is not that hard.

I cannot imagine actually letting a person learn in a moving vehicle. Nor is it necessary.

My wife and I spent a week in TelAviv, Israel early this year. We got around strictly using ride sharing services like Uber, so we rode in lots of different vehicles. I expected to see lots of standard transmissions, but we didn’t come across one. You may find a similar situation in Japan.

8 year old thread.

Then why did it show up considering I have the filter set to “latest”? You want to scold someone I would suggest trying someone who gives a you-know-what. I don’t.


Pointing out that someone replied to an 8 year old thread is not scolding them. I get taken in by old threads all the time and I often don’t notice the date until I see a reply by someone that I know is not on this forum anymore.
I know they are supposed to pop up in latest if someone replies to them, but I also have seen them there without an intervening reply. Why it happens is a mystry to me.

This popped up to the latest discussions because someone replied to add a spam post to the thread sometime overnight. The system flags it for mods to see it and decide it’s really spam, but it bumps the thread without showing the post.

And it’s usually pointed out here when a thread is old in order to scold the reviver, but let’s not tread this ground again. Thanks.

Sorry Mopar but he was going to Europe 8 years ago not Japan. Israel is a great trip though.