Driving a manual shift truck can be intimidating at first, but it will get easier as you practice proper technique. Before you try to drive, you should get used to the differences between an automatic truck and a gear stick truck. Then it's just a matter of hitting the right pedals and driving at the right speed. At first, driving may seem difficult, but if you take your time and practice, you will get to driving a gear stick truck in no time!
Part 1 of 4: Getting used to a gear stick as a beginner
Step 1. Locate the clutch, accelerator and brake pedals
The accelerator pedal is the thin one on the right side. The brake pedal is the widest pedal that sits in the middle of the other two pedals. The clutch is the leftmost pedal on the truck. Every time you want to change gears, you have to press the clutch. Generally, for most people, using the clutch is the most challenging part of shifter driving.
- You should use your right foot to press the accelerator and brake pedals.
- Use your left foot to press the clutch.
Step 2. Locate the gear lever and look at the illustration at the top
The lever should be to the right of your seat (for trucks with a left side steering wheel). Most shifters have gear numbers stamped on the top of them to help you locate them.
- Normally, the first speed is on the left side up, the second is on the left side down, the third is in the center up, the fourth is from the center down, the fifth is on the right side up, and recoil is right down.
- Moving the gear stick to the center puts the truck in neutral mode.
Step 3. Adjust the seat and mirrors so you can see around you
Position the rear view mirror and side mirrors so that you can see around the truck. Eliminate as many blind spots as you can to avoid crashes. Also, move the seat so you are comfortable reaching for the pedals but can also see through the front windshield.
Remember to fasten your seat belt before starting the truck
Step 4. Practice driving on flat ground
Manual trucks continue to move as long as they are in neutral and the brakes are off. This makes practicing on a hilly road difficult. Before you begin, find a flat terrain to practice.
Part 2 of 4: Starting the Truck
Step 1. Press the clutch and brake pedal all the way down
You need to push the clutch down so you can move the shift lever to neutral. The brake pedal or emergency brake should also be on so the truck won't move when you put it in neutral. Use your left foot to press the clutch and use your right to press the brake.
If your emergency brake is on, you don't have to press the brake pedal as hard as you normally would
Step 2. Push the gear stick to the center to put the truck in neutral
If you don't put the truck in neutral when you start it, it will stop suddenly. With the brake and clutch depressed, move the shift lever toward the center of its axle to put it in neutral. You should be able to move the lever around, and not feel like it locks in one place.
Step 3. Press the start button or turn the key to start the truck
With the shift lever in neutral and both pedals still depressed, start the truck. To turn it on in a conventional way, simply turn the key to the right. Instead, on newer trucks you may have to press a button.
Step 4. Push the gear stick into first gear
With the brake and clutch still depressed, move the shift lever to the left and then up. Move the lever a bit to make sure it is locked in place. Now you have successfully started the truck and can start driving.
Release the brake. Disengage the emergency brake, if it is on, and take your foot off the brake pedal. By doing this, the truck can start moving
Part 3 of 4: Driving and Shifting Gears
Step 1. Slowly press the accelerator while releasing your left foot from the clutch
Release the clutch and slowly press the accelerator with your right foot in one fluid motion to move the truck forward. Don't hit the gas too hard or the truck may stop suddenly.
If it stops suddenly, just turn the truck off and repeat the process again
Step 2. Keep pressing the accelerator until the truck reaches 3,000 revolutions per minute
Look at the different gauges behind the wheel. Normally, the revolutions per minute are on the right hand side. Once the rev meter needle reaches 3000, you should shift to the next higher gear.
- As you drive the truck, you will hear acceleration and engine overwork as you go faster.
- Staying in a gear that is too low for your speed can damage the gearbox.
Step 3. Press the clutch with your left foot and put the truck in second gear
While still in motion, slowly take your foot off the gas pedal as you press the clutch and move the gearshift lever down to the left, or into the second gear position. This is the same method used to shift up to higher speeds.
- You won't be able to move the gear stick without pressing the clutch first.
- This movement must be done in a fluid movement.
Step 4. Release the clutch and press the accelerator
Once the truck is in second gear, press the accelerator again and take your foot off the clutch. In this step you will be driving in second gear.
Step 5. Repeat the process to go to the highest speeds
Once you get used to shifter driving, you will be able to listen to the engine and know when to increase or decrease speed. If you're just starting out, make sure you're watching the revolutions per minute. Every time your revolutions per minute reach 3000, you should shift to the next higher gear.
Being at the correct speed will cause the truck to consume less fuel
Part 4 of 4: Slow Down, Stop, and Back Up
Step 1. Slow down when you need to slow down
Downshifting helps regulate the truck's speed and is useful if traffic is also slowing down. To downshift, press the clutch while applying the brake and put the truck in the next lower gear. Once you get up to speed, release the clutch and press the accelerator to maintain speed.
You never really have to downshift to first as second doesn't want high rpm
Step 2. Put the gearshift in neutral when you stop
Unless you want to stop suddenly, you should put the truck in neutral when you want to come to a complete stop. To do this, press down on the clutch while releasing the throttle and push the lever toward the center. Then once you've put the truck in neutral, you can stop and start moving again without the truck suddenly stopping.
Step 3. Use the brake instead of the accelerator when backing up
Pressing the accelerator pedal when backing up can feel rough and fast. Instead of pressing the gas pedal when backing up, use the clutch and the disengaged brake to control the truck. Slowly take your left foot off the clutch and step on the brake with your right foot to control the truck. This trick will work unless you're on a steep hill, in which case you may need to hit the gas.