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(CNN)   CNN asks the tough question no other site would dare to cover: Is knowing how to drive stick in America still essential?   (cnn.com) divider line 392
    More: Stupid, CNN, manual transmissions, impromptu  
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5339 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 Jul 2012 at 4:31 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-20 04:57:47 AM  
I have owned dozens of cars, new and vintage. Have 7 now, all stick.

I have only ever owned 3 automatics; two of them were vintage hearses that came with no manual option, one a temporary summer car in college I got for $50.
 
2012-07-20 05:01:27 AM  
I think that knowing how to drive a stick should be part of drivers ed (along with how to change a flat, that it is okay to drive a short distance off the freeway and to a parking lot on a flat/blow out instead of risking your life changing a flat on the side of a highway, that you don't have to come to a complete stop when turning into a parking lot, when the sign says that your exit is in 2 miles, move over now, not in 1.9999 miles, and a few other things).

I would happily own another stick, however, I lost the use of my right shoulder so I only drive stick when I absolutely have to. Last time was when I was shadowing a delivery driver for a job that I had gotten hired for. He stalled the deliver truck under an over pass and knowing about my bum shoulder, still had me drive the truck because his license was suspended and if a cop came by to see if we were in need of assistance he could be arrested for driving on that suspended license (Once we got back to the shop I quit).

Last month I trained to be a car salesmen and the trainer said that with the technology as advanced as it is, manual transmissions are becoming less and less. Kia, for example, only has two or three models that have stick options, and even those are hard to find. The first time I sold cars I was told that driving stick was required. Now it's not because there are so few being made any more. All the advantages with stick are now in automatics. Some cars will always have stick. It's next to impossible to imagine Ferrari going to all automatics. Chevy, Ford, Honda: yeah, they may completely phase out the manual transmission.

I have two nieces, ages 10 and 5. They very well may go through life not knowing that there ever was a manual option for cars.
 
2012-07-20 05:02:17 AM  
I won't drive anything but a stick.

Part of that has to do with the assrapey costs of repairing a slushbox.

$500 and a weekend will get another 150k+ out of a stick. No way in hell will I pay $4k-$7k for a slushbox rebuild.
 
2012-07-20 05:02:31 AM  
In the UK if you pass your test in an automatic you are only allowed to drive automatics (most pass in a manual),

How does it work over there?
 
2012-07-20 05:03:14 AM  
One of my cars is an auto, the other in a manual. I really have no preference one way or the other. After many years of driving a manual, its all essentially "automatic" anyway. I don't even notice clutching or shifting most of the time.
 
2012-07-20 05:11:11 AM  

Feed_The_Walrus: In the UK if you pass your test in an automatic you are only allowed to drive automatics (most pass in a manual),

How does it work over there?


There is no license for automatics or manuals.

I passed my drivers test in an automatic, got my license, then my dad taught me how to drive a stick. He gave me the basics, then said that we were going on a small little road trip and that I was driving. I asked how far, he said until the gas gauge hit the one quarter full mark. Then we were to gas up. Every time I stalled the truck I had to pay $1 towards the gas (this was back when gas was under a dollar a gallon). I paid for half the gas when we filled up. And this wasn't an easy get onto the freeway, get into fifth gear and stay there road trip. This was city and country driving, plenty of stop and go traffic, plenty of shifting up and down. Great experience.
 
2012-07-20 05:12:54 AM  
If nothing else, it gets you to pay attention more to the damn road and what you're doing instead of fiddling with your hair/radio/ipod/cell phone/GPS/whatever.

There are too many distractions in today's cars, and in automatic transmissions its easy to forget what's going on outside the vehicle. If nothing else, having a stick at least maintains that some of your undivided attention should be spent on what its supposed to be spent on: Driving.
 
2012-07-20 05:13:32 AM  
Do they even teach it anymore? My hubby wanted to learn because he wants to be able to drive in Europe (he only got his drivers' license when he was 37), but he couldn't find anyone who teaches it.
 
2012-07-20 05:19:05 AM  
In my late teens/early early twenties, I kinda sorta knew how to drive a stick, but it hardly ever came up.

Then, when I was 24, I started dating my ex, who had a 1300 model VW Bug convertible with a stick and took a summer job working for the Iowa DOT where I had to drive an old Dodge pick up truck with a manual transmission and a four speed on the steering column. I learned in a day.

Later that year, after my ex and I were married, we had her VW Bug as our primary car and I got very, very proficient with a stick. In fact, it was fun, even though the car was a farking death trap. Even better was that since the starter had a flat spot on it and didn't always work due to it, we could still pop start it. Really, I got so good at it that I could pop start that little bug in reverse in less than ten feet, letting it roll down our downhill angled driveway in neutral.

Seriously, there are times now, nearly 40 years gone by, that I really miss that car.
 
2012-07-20 05:19:20 AM  
This thread is reminding me of something that really ticks me off. I bought a new Mercedes 'E' class diesel last December. The new 7 speed automatics are very nice compaired to the 2 and 3 speed autos I grew up with. But if I could have bought the true car of my dreams (that I could afford), it would have been the 'E' class 4 cylinder diesel with the 6 speed manual that they sell Everywhere Else In The Farking World But The U.S.!

Apparently nice sedans with manual transmissions are pretty easy to get just about everywhere else but here. Last stick I drove was my 2005 Honda Accord, which had almost all the options but they wouldn't mate the V-6 to the manual trans, it had to be the 2.5 liter 4. I love my Mercedes but I'm finding myself jealous of a friend who just bought a Volkswagon Jetta diesel wagon with a stick.
 
2012-07-20 05:27:08 AM  
I'm a blonde, overweight, middle-aged woman.

I take my car in to have the oil changed.

Mechanic gets done with it, and looks for the guy who had to have driven it in.

Because there's no way I'm driving a manual.

Right....

Even better is watching a young mechanic having to ask an older guy to drive my car because he can't.

(They also become very confused when I start asking intelligent questions about the insides of my car.)
 
2012-07-20 05:28:41 AM  
I drive stick right now. Frankly I'm not that crazy about and nothing about it has sold me on the whole cult of "dude-stick-is-so-much-better". My next car will be an automatic. I'm ready to go back.

I have a friend/co-worker who heard me say this and commented that I am "a part of the problem". He couldn't tell me what the "problem" is, however.
 
2012-07-20 05:29:54 AM  
I don't know how you americans can stay awake while driving - no gear shifting, no interesting curves on the road, just easy driving in a straight line..which...i..s...zzzzzzzz ... boring....zzzzzzzzzz *crash*
 
2012-07-20 05:35:50 AM  
I always find it slightly odd that basically all US cars are automatics. In the Uk it is the opposite and virtually no-one drives an automatic. Not really sure why. I suppose you have more control in a manual which can be useful in bad weather but the practical arguments probaly end there.

Basically, it is more manly to drive manual. Like being able to change a tyre or put up shelves. It is just something a guy should be able to do.
 
2012-07-20 05:42:37 AM  

doglover:
On the other hand someone who can drive stick can also drive automatic without so much as moment's hesitation.


Except that part where you try to hit the clutch that's not there.
 
2012-07-20 05:43:19 AM  

Brigandaca: I always find it slightly odd that basically all US cars are automatics. In the Uk it is the opposite and virtually no-one drives an automatic. Not really sure why. I suppose you have more control in a manual which can be useful in bad weather but the practical arguments probaly end there.

Basically, it is more manly to drive manual. Like being able to change a tyre or put up shelves. It is just something a guy should be able to do.


Manuals are less expensive (automatic transmissions, while common in the US, are still usually about a $2000 "option", even if the standard versions are hard to find), which IMO is a pretty practical reason to go with a manual gearbox.
 
2012-07-20 05:56:09 AM  
I've always driven a manual except for the odd occasion when I get a loaner from the garage - they're usually automatics, and I HATE driving them (I'm in Edinburgh, why do garages give automatics as loaners when hardly anyone drives them?) I don't think it's because one is intrinsically better than the other, it's just what I'm used to. Not having a clutch pedal, my foot doesn't know what to do. I panic that I can't change gear fast enough to overtake. I know it's my problem, not the car, but I really just don't like automatics. Edinburgh is a very hilly city, streets are old, twisty-turny, cobbled, and I've never had a problem driving manual.
 
2012-07-20 05:56:10 AM  
Yes. Now sit on and rotate.
 
2012-07-20 05:56:21 AM  
I enjoyed driving with manual transmission when I lived in an area where all the roads were flat.

Once I moved to where I live now, where there's almost no such thing as a road that isn't on an upgrade or downgrade, I gave it up and bought a car with automatic transmission.
 
2012-07-20 05:57:00 AM  
mysticalvampirevixens.com

images.buddytv.com

alicia-logic.com
 
2012-07-20 05:57:48 AM  
If your're female and riding with me it is!
 
2012-07-20 05:59:00 AM  

kimwim: Not to mention mpg goes way up with a stick.


Only if you do it perfectly, which few people do.
 
2012-07-20 05:59:30 AM  

farkityfarker: I enjoyed driving with manual transmission when I lived in an area where all the roads were flat.

Once I moved to where I live now, where there's almost no such thing as a road that isn't on an upgrade or downgrade, I gave it up and bought a car with automatic transmission.


That's where you can let your skills really shine! Where I live, the steep hills in Downtown Seattle are like driving in hard mode, once you master it, you get to claim your bragging rights.
 
2012-07-20 06:02:29 AM  

Nightjars: farkityfarker: I enjoyed driving with manual transmission when I lived in an area where all the roads were flat.

Once I moved to where I live now, where there's almost no such thing as a road that isn't on an upgrade or downgrade, I gave it up and bought a car with automatic transmission.

That's where you can let your skills really shine! Where I live, the steep hills in Downtown Seattle are like driving in hard mode, once you master it, you get to claim your bragging rights.


LOL, that's where I live.

I got tired of worrying about backing into the car behind me every time the light turns green.
 
2012-07-20 06:03:33 AM  
I used to drive a stick shift. Then I had to drive a van for my company. The first day I took the van was the first day I had driven an automatic in years. So I'm making a delivery and as I was coming up to the address my left foot naturally did what it always does before I apply the brake, it moved over to where the clutch pedal is and once it felt a pedal, it pushed it to the floor. Unfortunately that pedal was that wide brake pedal they put in automatics because apparently people who drive automatics can not only not work their hands while driving, they can't work their feet either, so let's make the brake pedal really wide and extend to where the clutch would be in a stick shift. Long story short, what I thought was the clutch was actually the brake, I ended up stopping short and pissing off the guy behind me. That and I kept reaching for a non existent shifter the whole day I was driving. Stupid automatics.
 
2012-07-20 06:07:42 AM  
taught my oldest to drive a stick in an 88 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. told him upfront i expected to buy a clutch disc and new tires before he had it figured out. He learned quickly enough that I didn't need to replace the clutch disc, but damn he did know wheel hop. If you can drive a 3600lb car with a 2.3 liter and a stick, you can drive anything.

/still have the car and two more kids that will learn to *drive* it
 
2012-07-20 06:13:17 AM  
Does anyone here actually think they'll sell manuals in ten years?

Hardly essential.

/yes, I've driven stick my whole life
//next car probably won't have it available with all the fancy computers and whatnot
 
2012-07-20 06:16:30 AM  

vatica40: Does anyone here actually think they'll sell manuals in ten years?

Hardly essential.

/yes, I've driven stick my whole life
//next car probably won't have it available with all the fancy computers and whatnot


Yes. The rest of the world drives them.
 
2012-07-20 06:37:49 AM  
I learned the basics in an automatic and then Pop took me out into the country with his '66 Ford F-100. I hopped and screeched that thing for the whole lesson (352 V-8).
A couple of days later we went out again and I drove it just fine. He accused me of taking it out on my own! I guess it just worked right because I slept on it.
 
2012-07-20 06:50:45 AM  
Compare the average cost of replacing a clutch (manual) to replacing the entire transmission (automatic), and the ten minutes you spent learning stick has just become the highest education/reward payout ratio of you entire life.
 
2012-07-20 06:57:15 AM  

doglover: If you can't drive stick, you can't drive yet.

That's pretty much how it goes. Sure you can navigate an automatic passenger car from A to B without killing anyone, but you couldn't use a stick.

On the other hand someone who can drive stick can also drive automatic without so much as moment's hesitation. It's a superior skill. Literally it trumps the other kind of driving.


This.

I have never owned an automatic.

Originally when I bought my car, i wanted a 4- door, but they didnt have a 4- door manual on the VW lot.

I drive a 2-door. I love it because no one asks if they can drive.

Also, you're way less likely to be car jacked these days. My father taught me that.
 
2012-07-20 06:58:45 AM  
They stopped teaching manual transmissions in my area back in the early 80s. Half my cars have been manual transmissions, but there is no longer any fuel benefits because of how well automatic transmissions are geared now. I wanted a manual transmission for my latest car, but I literally could not find any in stock in the local area between several different manufacturers. Now I am back to an automatic but have no problems going to a manual for my next car, however that may not even be an option in the future.
 
2012-07-20 07:00:15 AM  
WTF? 80 comments and not a single attempt at a cheap "Anderson Cooper" ghey joke? The terrorists are winning. Thanks Fartbongo.
 
2012-07-20 07:08:16 AM  
I learned to drive stick in 1979 Opel Ascona while stationed in Germany in 1999. Driving a manual is fun if your not stuck in heavy traffic
 
2012-07-20 07:14:45 AM  
I've never understood why people need to be "taught" how to drive a stick. You push in the clutch, put it in gear (they're clearly marked 1-4/5 and R) let out the clutch and go. When the engine starts sounding like its revving a little high, shift to the next gear. How simpler could it be?

The hardest part is learning how to slowly let out the clutch from a full stop, but it should only take you 5 or 6 tries to get the hang of that.
 
2012-07-20 07:20:06 AM  

violentsalvation: I learned on a '71 Jeepster Commando. I also learned how to use the other PITA stick, and lock and unlock the hubs with a rock. I still have the Jeep.


i had a 68 Commando, short metal top, w/ Buick V6. what a monster that was. custom headers into glass packs. it sounded like a 1/2 doz. Harleys starting at one time.

shift vehicles are the best. you can accelerate quicker and stop faster.
 
2012-07-20 07:28:08 AM  
No. If it was essential, it'd be part of the driving test.

A good thing to know, though? Yes. Like sewing, patching, cooking, firearms and basic carpentry, it's something that you should be familiar with at least the basic principles of just in case it's needed.

ReapTheChaos: I've never understood why people need to be "taught" how to drive a stick. You push in the clutch, put it in gear (they're clearly marked 1-4/5 and R) let out the clutch and go. When the engine starts sounding like its revving a little high, shift to the next gear. How simpler could it be?

The hardest part is learning how to slowly let out the clutch from a full stop, but it should only take you 5 or 6 tries to get the hang of that.


You just named the part that it's hard for most people to figure out without being told (i.e. taught). Also you need to make sure you memorize the layout before you start driving so you're not looking at the shifter every time you change gears, and you have to tell the driver when to switch (3000 rpm usually) and caution them to try to keep the revs in the 2-3000 range while changing.

But yeah, it's a matter of minutes to teach someone the process, the rest is practice. Well, unless you're driving something without synchromesh, in which case they'll need someone looking over their shoulder for a bit and probably a lot of practice off the roads.
 
2012-07-20 07:29:21 AM  

ReapTheChaos: I've never understood why people need to be "taught" how to drive a stick. You push in the clutch, put it in gear (they're clearly marked 1-4/5 and R) let out the clutch and go. When the engine starts sounding like its revving a little high, shift to the next gear. How simpler could it be?

The hardest part is learning how to slowly let out the clutch from a full stop, but it should only take you 5 or 6 tries to get the hang of that.


You have obviously never known any of my gf, any of the people I went to high school or college with, or most of the people I work with. It would appear simple, but hand-eye (or even hand-ear) coordination is a real problem for a significant portion of the population from my experience. Even with a lot of driving time, my neighbor ground the gears EVERY SINGLE SHIFT. It nearly killed me.
 
2012-07-20 07:31:46 AM  

star_owl: This thread is reminding me of something that really ticks me off. I bought a new Mercedes 'E' class diesel last December. The new 7 speed automatics are very nice compaired to the 2 and 3 speed autos I grew up with. But if I could have bought the true car of my dreams (that I could afford), it would have been the 'E' class 4 cylinder diesel with the 6 speed manual that they sell Everywhere Else In The Farking World But The U.S.!

Apparently nice sedans with manual transmissions are pretty easy to get just about everywhere else but here. Last stick I drove was my 2005 Honda Accord, which had almost all the options but they wouldn't mate the V-6 to the manual trans, it had to be the 2.5 liter 4. I love my Mercedes but I'm finding myself jealous of a friend who just bought a Volkswagon Jetta diesel wagon with a stick.


We had to rent a full-size van in Europe this winter, and I was surprised and pleased to see that it was a diesel with a 6-speed manual. Plus, the gear shift didn't have a 3-foot throw like our '83 Vanagon. It was actually a pretty sweet ride. The real capper was 40+ MPG on the Autostrada.

Tell me again why we can't buy a vehicle like this in the states?

/The only problem was my college buddy trying to convert 1.8 meters into feet quickly when we pulled into an underground parking garage in Geneva.... English major FAIL.
 
2012-07-20 07:38:42 AM  

miss diminutive: The My Little Pony Killer: miss diminutive: One of my few regrets is that I never learned how to drive stick. An ex-bf tried to teach me once, but he got so pissy with me when I stalled it once that I just decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

It's incredibly worth it. You should try again with somebody who isn't an impatient sissy. Stalling out is just part of the deal when you're learning.

That's what I figured, stalling is just part of the learning experience. Apparently he learned to drive without stalling (so he claimed). He was kind of a douche when it came to things like that, not surprisingly we didn't last very long after that.

I would ask my dad, since he was the one who taught me to drive in the first place, but he's got the worst case of invisible brake syndrome* that just makes me tense up and forget what I'm doing.

*while in the passenger seat his foot slams the floorboard instinctively, looking for the brake pedal that isn't there


That's why I love that my car has an emergency brake in the middle. So I can yank it while my daughter is driving! (Got her learners license a few weeks ago, I haven't had to yank the e-brake yet!, though I did yank it on a friend whom I was teaching to drive my stick a few months ago just to test his clutch reaction time! )
 
2012-07-20 07:40:42 AM  

pkellmey: You have obviously never known any of my gf, any of the people I went to high school or college with, or most of the people I work with. It would appear simple, but hand-eye (or even hand-ear) coordination is a real problem for a significant portion of the population from my experience. Even with a lot of driving time, my neighbor ground the gears EVERY SINGLE SHIFT. It nearly killed me.


Hill starts were my problem. It took me some time to master them.
 
2012-07-20 07:41:11 AM  
No, but it's a lot more fun!

Cewley: hell no! but it's more fun when you have a fun stick shift car, e.g Mazda3!


This is why I came into the thread actually. Bought a manual 2010 Mazda 3, new, and still love it to death.

/I named her River.
//even though Jayne is a girls name too.
///My old '96 civic was also lots of fun.
 
2012-07-20 07:46:25 AM  

Jim_Callahan: No. If it was essential, it'd be part of the driving test.

A good thing to know, though? Yes. Like sewing, patching, cooking, firearms and basic carpentry, it's something that you should be familiar with at least the basic principles of just in case it's needed.

ReapTheChaos: I've never understood why people need to be "taught" how to drive a stick. You push in the clutch, put it in gear (they're clearly marked 1-4/5 and R) let out the clutch and go. When the engine starts sounding like its revving a little high, shift to the next gear. How simpler could it be?

The hardest part is learning how to slowly let out the clutch from a full stop, but it should only take you 5 or 6 tries to get the hang of that.

You just named the part that it's hard for most people to figure out without being told (i.e. taught). Also you need to make sure you memorize the layout before you start driving so you're not looking at the shifter every time you change gears, and you have to tell the driver when to switch (3000 rpm usually) and caution them to try to keep the revs in the 2-3000 range while changing.

But yeah, it's a matter of minutes to teach someone the process, the rest is practice. Well, unless you're driving something without synchromesh, in which case they'll need someone looking over their shoulder for a bit and probably a lot of practice off the roads.


All you need to do is pull on the handbrake, then very slowly let the clutch out until you find the biting point, the car will start straining at the leash. Once you know where that is there really isn't much more to it. Try holding the car stationary on an incline using only the clutch and accelerator for practice.
 
2012-07-20 07:46:33 AM  

MindStalker:
That's why I love that my car has an emergency brake in the middle. So I can yank it while my daughter is driving! (Got her learners license a few weeks ago, I haven't had to yank the e-brake yet!, though I did yank it on a friend whom I was teaching to drive my stick a few months ago just to test his clutch reaction time! )


Ummm... just to make sure, you do know that the parking brake only locks the rear wheels?
And that can be very bad at higher speeds and/or while turning.
 
2012-07-20 07:48:30 AM  

kimwim: miss diminutive: One of my few regrets is that I never learned how to drive stick. An ex-bf tried to teach me once, but he got so pissy with me when I stalled it once that I just decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

It is worth the hassle, get a couple lessons somehow, and learn how to drive a stick!


The 'somehow' is the operative part of the puzzle in the modern-day US.

I've never had a stick vehicle. Parents did when I was a little kid, but they were gone before I was 16.

I've asked at least a dozen friends (college dorm-mates and the like) over the years. Invariably they will say "oh sure man, glad to show you", but when you call in the favor, it's always "ummm... really don't want to wreck my clutch bro". At this phase of life, I don't even have any friends who I know own a stick vehicle.

I've gone so far as to call driving schools (no, don't do that) and used car dealers (no, don't do that).

Leaving? Get a $900 car on Craigslist that I can't drive and have it delivered to an empty parking lot I guess. Which I keep meaning to try, but it's just not been that high a priority.

Still, it's kinda embarrassing to be a mid-30s male who's literally never touched a clutch pedal.
 
2012-07-20 07:49:22 AM  
Should I teach my son to use a rotary telephone, too?
 
2012-07-20 07:51:54 AM  
people who always brag about how awesome a manual transmission is sound a lot like the people who adore every product apple releases, or insist that monster cables make the music sound better.
 
2012-07-20 07:54:29 AM  

doglover: If you can't drive stick, you can't drive yet.

That's pretty much how it goes. Sure you can navigate an automatic passenger car from A to B without killing anyone, but you couldn't use a stick.

On the other hand someone who can drive stick can also drive automatic without so much as moment's hesitation. It's a superior skill. Literally it trumps the other kind of driving.


<CSB>
I bought the current ride about three years ago. I wanted the 5-speed, but it was nowhere to be had in the local area. The dealer located one about three hours away, and sent his lot person to pick it up. The guy arrived at the other dealership, took one look at the car, and called my dealer. "You didn't tell me it was a stick," said he. Turns out he had been ferrying Cadillacs around for the last 30 years and had never driven a manual.
</CSB>
 
2012-07-20 07:55:13 AM  
It's pretty essential for me.
 
2012-07-20 07:56:55 AM  

Gortex: Should I teach my son to use a rotary telephone, too?


I think for most people in the U.S., that is really the mindset. Around 2000 or so, Honda did a small survey that said only 30% of the population was comfortable driving a stick (mostly over the 40+ years old range) and only 15% would purchase one with that feature. So it would appear there is little market for them now.
 
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