Slow and downshift before cornering?

I have whats probably a bad habit. Approaching a corner I: push the clutch, brake a bit, start the turn, while turning with the clutch still down find my gear, release clutch, accelerate out of the turn.
Now Im teaching my girlfriend to drive stick and dont want to teach her my bad habits.

Are you supposed to slow and downshift before the turn?
Whats the technique for doing so?

On my motorcycle its easy, just blip the throttle and downshift while braking and away you go. Not interested in heel and toe car downshifting just yet.

Thanks for the help

The “accelerate out of turn” part is the only part you may want to neglect to teach her. While it gets you around the curve faster, on wet or slippery pavement that could get her into trouble.

Your approach protocol is correct as long as you’re “matching” the engine speed to the gear you’re going into. A tap on the accelerator while the clutch pedal is in is a good way to do this.

Others are going to disagree, because what you’re actually doing is using the gears to slow down entering the corner, and using the brakes is generally considered better for clutch longevity, but if you’re managing the actions properly the clutch will be fine. I often did that with my old pickup too, and I got 295,000 miles out of the original clutch.

Note: not excessive acceleration of course. Nice and easy throttle through the turn.

“what you’re actually doing is using the gears to slow down entering the corner”

Instead should i be braking till i reach a 2nd gear speed and then shifting to second? All before the turn?

My current technique of riding the clutch through the turn seems like excessive clutch usage.

My understanding of your technique is that you’re holding the pedal in while turning rather than riding the clutch. Riding the clutch would mean that you’re keeping you foot on the pedal while the clutch is engaged. If I’m correct, you’re fine, although you may be putting some unnecessary wear on the release (“throwout”) bearing.

Most cars have a significant overlap in the speed ranges of their gears. Braking until you slow to second gear then shifting is the least wearing protocol, but revving the engine a bit to rev-match and then dropping it into second and using the engine to slow you is also an acceptable (albiet slightly more wear-inducing) method of slowing as long as you’re not beyond the range of your second gear .

The important thing is that you’re slowing before the turn and gently accelerating out, both without slipping your clutch or jolting your drivetrain.

Unless I’m misunderstanding, which occasionally happens.

For the average driver, it’s appropriate to just lift the foot off he accelerator in enough time to coast through the entire curve. Assuming you have FWD, trying to accelerate out of curve when you are halfway through, puts you in a position of understeer which makes emergency maneuvering more difficult than it should be and promotes excessive tire wear on the front wheels. Your technique is reserved for rwd cars trying to promote oversteer while getting through a corner as quickly as possible while accelerating “out of a turn”. I suggest you leave your girlfriend out of it and allow her to coast through at lower speed.

Bottom line. It’s a bad habit in a FWD car, and an unnecessary habit in a RWD/AWD car or motorcycle. Driving through the entire curve while in coasting mode and using accelerator only to maintain that lower speed is the safest thing to do if slowing down is necessary and there are no other demands on your ability to maneuver. “Same” is right in that it could get someone into trouble.

I have yet to see a sign that says, " slow down for curve and accelerate while in it". It assumes you will slow down through the entire curve. Just to be a little sarcastic, someone has been watching too many old Steve McQueen movies.

BTW, a dear family member was so proud of herself that she could down shift and get through a corner by accelerating out of it in our new awd Subaru, leaving everyone else behind. Her next “unrelated to her” comment was, “I wonder why our tires are wearing out so fast on the out side”.

“Braking until you slow to second gear then shifting is the least wearing protocol”

All before entering the turn?

You are supposed to decelerate and downshift while you are still traveling in a straight line, before the turn. Braking in the turn is not the proper technique, on a motorcycle or in a car.

The way a motorcycle suspension works, you actually get better traction when you accelerate slightly through the turn because of the way the bike is angled and because of the way the suspension squats down, but you want to simply maintain a constant speed in low traction conditions because accelerating through the turn is so much fun, it’s easy to go overboard.

Since you need to downshift to second gear anyway, you aren’t creating any extra wear by downshifting and using the engine to slow down, but you should be downshifting before the turn, not while in the turn. However, downshifting on a motorcycle causes the rear tire to wear out faster, and motorcycle tires are expensive. Balanced braking (with most of the braking done in the front), will help your tires last longer. For this reason alone, I use the brakes on my motorcycle instead of downshifting.

The only time downshifting creates extra clutch wear is when you shift into a gear JUST to slow down, creating extra unnecessary shifts. As long as you don’t shift more than necessary, and you do it properly, you shouldn’t create extra wear.

There are so many situations that occur in normal driving that there is no one “correct” technique. I don’t shift as the OP describes often, but in some instances I have shifted mid-corner. For a new driver or new to shifting driver the main thing is keep it simple and shifting mid-corner isn’t simple.

Therefore either go into the corner with enough speed to coast while turning then downshift at the end of the turn. Or, complete the downshift before entering the turn. It is a matter of how well the driver can control the steering wheel with the left hand while working the shifter with the right hand. This is easy for some folks and tricky for others.

“You are supposed to decelerate and downshift while you are still traveling in a straight line, before the turn.”
“complete the downshift before entering the turn”

Perfect. So is this ok to do without blipping the throttle (tapping the gas to match RMPs)?
Do you just break till you are at a proper speed and then shift?

On my bike I blip the throttle and downshift while braking before the turn (just like Keith Code says to), but its easy on a bike. Toe to heel isnt newbie material.

Thanks for the help

Blipping the throttle helps match the revs to make the transition from gear to gear smoother.

MB is right. I would rev the engine to match RPMs and reduce clutch wear, letting off on the throttle to decelerate after the clutch is fully engaged.

In a car, it isn’t as tough as you make it sound (heal to toe). While you are coasting, before you engage the clutch, you have a spare foot to place on either the brake or the throttle. There’s no reason to need both at the same time. Just give it a little gas so shifting into gear doesn’t create a jolt, and then brake after the car is already in gear. You don’t have to do both things simultaneously, like you are capable of doing on a motorcycle.

“Do you just break till you are at a proper speed and then shift?”

Yes, but you can brake before and/or after the shift. It really doesn’t make much of a difference, except that slowing down first means you don’t have to use the throttle to make the shift into second gear.

The thing to remember when driving is that you have a certain amount of traction available, and that’s it. How much you have depends on tires, weight, and road conditions.

Turning uses some of your traction. Braking uses some of your traction. If you do both at the same time, the traction use combines, and if the total traction required is more than the traction you have to work with, you get in trouble. That’s why it’s a good idea to brake down to the speed required in the turn before you start the turn. As downshifting is part of braking this, too, should be accomplished before you start the turn.

I do this stuff so subconsciously I had to check to see how I do it while driving. When I am making a basic 90º turn onto another street, I simply slow down to the speed at which I want to make the turn, usually in 4th or 5th gear (I have a 6-speed), and as I am making the turn, I depress the clutch and shift into a suitable gear (usually 2nd) Matching revs properly, and accelerate out of the turn. No big deal!

If you are matching revs reasonably well as you downshift, and the car is not jerking as you do it, you’re doing fine. To better understand your specific technique would require me sitting in the car, but it sounds fine. If you have some buddies that are avid manual drivers you might get them in the car for a ride. Just don’t put 100% on what they say, everybody has their own opinion on these things (obviously!).

How do you not lug the engine making a 90 degree turn in 5th gear? How fast are you making that turn?

Huh? I downshift to 2nd. I slow down in 4th or 5th with my foot off of the throttle. This takes the engine down close to idle speed. Then, as I’m making the turn, I de-clutch and shift into 2nd BEFORE I need power to accelerate out of the turn. I make the shift during that point when I am holding the wheel still in the turn, before I straighten out. And no, I do not drink coffee or talk on the phone while doing this;-)

You all are making me wonder if I drive my clutch correctly! And after reading other clutch posts, wonder if I got ripped off! Replaced the original clutch in my '90 Integra at 178K back in 2005 for a total parts and labor of $1200! Does that seem excessive? Is 178K a decent amount of time for a clutch to finally wear out?
I’ll have to see if I do what the original poster does when I go home today, as I navigate the curves in the neighborhood.

178K on a clutch ain’t bad!

Re: my last post, I might make the downshift a bit earlier, perhaps as I’m starting to turn the wheel. Most cars these days don’t need 10 steering wheel revolutions to make a turn, and it can often be done in a single motion with the left hand if the right hand is needed for a shift. Like I said in my first post, I do it so subconsciously it is hard to remember exactly how I go about it.

178k miles is GREAT. As for the price, I don’t know. But you don’t need to change how you’re driving.

Stop wearing engine and drive train and sucking in more gas with higher engine rpm.
Use BRAKES ONLY and wear only them a tiny bit.