The right way to come to a stop in a manual transmission vehicle

I’m a new manual transmission driver. I didn’t learn from a school - I learned from a friend. While I’m not stalling out much anymore and I’ve mostly gotten the hang of being at a stoplight on a hill, there is still one question that lingers: what is the proper way to come to a full stop in a manual transmission car?

My friend (A) originally taught me that you put the car into neutral and use only the brake, but a different friend (B) said that you always want the car to be in gear while stopping (especially in the winter on slippery roads), so I should leave the car in gear, but put the clutch in while braking. Yet more confusing was when I was riding in a taxi, I paid attention to how the taxi driver did it and he left it in gear while coming to a stop and only put the clutch in right before the stop, at which point he put the car into 1st while waiting.

My question is, which one of these is the best option? I do live in a cold part of the country and so I also have safety on slippery roads in mind. Also, is one of the ways listed above better or worse for your clutch?

When I anticipate a stop I leave the car in whatever gear it’s in until I MUST shift into neutral and come to a stop. If the stop will be momentary, I shift directly into first gear and proceed…If the stop will be for more than 10 seconds, then shift into neutral and release the clutch. Your cab drivers technique is called “riding the clutch” and will eventually wear out the throw-out bearing. (Very few cabs have stick shifts) Never use your clutch to create a false neutral…Never rest your foot on the clutch pedal…

Push in the clutch when the engine starts to quit just as the car is slowing to a standstill.

Your cab drivers technique is called “riding the clutch” and will eventually wear out the throw-out bearing. Never use your clutch to create a false neutral.

Are you describing the taxi driver or friend B?

I agree, a mixed approach based on the situation is best. Terrain and weather should be factors as well.

Since you are new to a manual transmission, I’d suggest leaving the car in the gear you are traveling in, often 4th or 5th. When you see a stop coming up, let off the gas and apply the brake as needed and leave the car in gear clutch out (engaged). As you reach slower speeds look at the tach and when the motor speed is 1,000 rpm, push in the clutch (disengage) and come to a full stop. Then you can put the car in neutral and wait out the stoplight. If you coming to a stop sign, after the complete stop with the clutch pushed in move the the gear selector to 1st and prepare to start up again as traffic permits.

As you get more experienced you may start downshifting to use engine braking when slowing down. Pretty much the same drill, leave the car in gear and push in on the clutch when the motor hits 1,000 rpm on the tach.


Please see the link below. Plenty of content there for you. Good luck.

What I do is leave the car in gear whilst decellerating/braking, and then engage the clutch when the RPM’s drop to around 1000 RPM, at which point you’re only going maybe 20 MPH in top gear, and you’ll be stopped in a seccond or two anyway.

We have two manual trans cars and have owned at least one manual trans car since 1974. I mostly do what the taxi driver did.

Don’t use the trans lower gears for braking. That is rough work for the clutch and the trans bearings if you don’t do a good job of matching engine speed with clutch in vs clutch out.