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Hi All- I've been reading this forum for a good few months, I discovered it right after I put down my payment at Fox Valley (expecting delivery in Spring '06, I guess I could've had it late Fall '05, but Chicago weather + New Elise waiting in garage = Trouble Brewing).

Anywho, I was just reading the voluminous thread on keith "Vin Diesel is the new Cole Trickle" 86a's hp issues, and a lot of the responses was to learn stick, or take a class and learn stick better, or to get an Evo (hah) which brought me to finally post a question.

I've been jaunting around in my manual trans 1.8T "APR chipped to 2xx (your preference here) hp" Jetta for a good 3.5 years, and reading this thread got me to asking myself: do I really know how to drive stick well? Just kind of a blanket survey, I guess, but what do people out there deem as good manual trans skills? Just curious.
 

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No clutch burning smell and no car jolting when shifting gears. Smoothness without overusing the clutch.
 

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I always wondered the same thing until a driving instructor riding with me one time complemented me on my abilities. I'd highly recommend taking a driving school. Any bad habits you may have driving a stick could be pointed out by a driving instructor, plus you learn a lot about performance driving in general. One of the best go-fast mods money can buy. ;)
 

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Modern Wedgie said:
No clutch burning smell and no car jolting when shifting gears. Smoothness without overusing the clutch.
that is basic proficiency. I would add to that an ability to heel-toe downshift as it really is impossible to do any performance driving without it.

-Steve
 

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What I'd deem as good manual skills would be -

1 - Being able to drive slowly (0-10 mph) without kangarooing.

2 - Being able to do a hill start without rolling back or burning the clutch.

3 - Switching to the right gear.

4 - No kangarooing from 1st to 2nd.

5 - Being able to use indicators (automatics don't seem to have them).
 

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Old Dude
2005 Lotus Elise touring, hard top, Starshield
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Haven't owned or driven a stick since I bought a new Corvette in 1992 - test drive of the Elise a couple months ago for 1/2 hour was first time since owning the Vette. Certainly not good at it and wasn't worth a crap when I had the Vette but never too old to learn I say. WELCOME ABOARD BTW :)
 

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I think the answer to this lies in your needs...

drive a stick with proficiency... you'll need to be able to select the right gear, not ride the clutch, and be able to modulate the throttle to go slowly in heavy traffic. It's just basic awareness of what the car is doing. I'm sure you do those things.

to drive it well enough for performance situations... rev-matching, and heel-toe come into play. smoothness becomes much more paramount.

to be really good... shift without clutching, left foot braking, and smoothly rolling from brake to gas in a turn without upsetting the car.

I've got a long way to go, and I tend to think of myself as pretty decent at it.

Cade
 

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What is kangerooing? I assume its when you go between engine braking and gas back and forth? I also assume you mean in first gear.
 

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I think the best indicator meantioned here is being able to get moving on a hill with absolute smoothness and ease. Anyone who owns this skill is usually proficient in all the basics of manual operation (insomuch that the driver has mastered the sensitivity that's required in all clutch pedal modulation).

To the other points made here I would add:

- The ability to shift quickly at redline with absolute smoothness and gentleness. You'll often read the term "driving with anger" bandied about on this board as if it's a good thing, but it definitely doesn't apply to high-performance shifting.

- The ability to stay off the clutch pedal as much as possible. It's a clutch -- not a crutch.

I have never needed a clutch replacement in my life as a driver. That's 18 years worth of owning only manuals, and driving quite literally about 355 days each year. I think that is the ultimate measure of proper manual transmission driving!!!:D
 

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Gasroth said:
What is kangerooing? I assume its when you go between engine braking and gas back and forth? I also assume you mean in first gear.
It's where the car jumps forwards a few times. Usually when pulling away from stopped.

I'm not too sure how you do it anymore, which is kinda strange because I was really good at it when I had my first driving leason.
 

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aaaaah. Yea I have no clue how to do that...although I remember doing it when I was 16. I was wondering cause I've been having trouble driving stick lately. I had a 230,000 mile old clutch which I just got replaced because I figured it couldn't have much left on it.

The new one seems like I have to give it twice the gas to keep the revs at the same level I do when getting the car moving. Also it seems to go through cycles. It engages near the beginning of the clutch movement and then over a period of a week it works its way up till the engagement point is near the top. When its near the top, and cold it starts lugging out with the same amount of gas, and revs I give the rest of the week. Then it just starts all over again. I figured kangarooing might be what seems to happen to me sometimes. I engage it get it moving...and the moment after I get it moving the engine revs die then go back up....eventhough it was spinning at the correct revs before.

I read somewhere that the correct way to upshift as well is to blip the throttle and wait till it falls to the correct level as well. just like downshifting. I usually just rev match by pushing the throttle to the right level. Is one techniquely better or?
 

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shay2nak
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Gromit said:
What I'd deem as good manual skills would be -

1 - Being able to drive slowly (0-10 mph) without kangarooing.

2 - Being able to do a hill start without rolling back or burning the clutch.

3 - Switching to the right gear.

4 - No kangarooing from 1st to 2nd.

5 - Being able to use indicators (automatics don't seem to have them).
what do you mean by kangarooing? Is that lurching the car forward (or jerking the car forward) during shifting?

I have always driven manual cars ever since I started learning cars. Everyone in my family drives a stick. Only the Merc I have now is auto. I didn't want to buy it in automatic but my parents were concerned only with resale. Makes sense. Who the hell is going to buy a stick Merc?

To drive a stick is fun as hell, you become better as you drive and learn how the car works. And having driven a Civic for most of my driving live, I've had to shift so many damn times for acceleration, uphill, downhill, coasting, etc.

At least my Merc has manual shifting auto. It's not the same but it's close.
 

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Jon

I have never needed a clutch replacement in my life as a driver. That's 18 years worth of owning only manuals, and driving quite literally about 355 days each year. I think that is the ultimate measure of proper manual transmission driving!!! WRONG..!!!!!

I would have to disagree with you on this point. Having to get a new clutch does not mean that you are a bad manual transmission driver, unless you are replacing it after 20,000 miles. If you can get over 100,000 on a clutch you are doing well. I take it that you switch cars fairly often. I have over 460,000km on my 1988 honda civic winter beater and yes I have changed the clutch. You see clutches like brakes are items that wear out. Doesn't matter how great a driver you are, the clutch will wear out sooner or later.
 

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I thought the clutch was just to get you started and stopped.:shrug:

At least it isn't needed for shifting in my truck.

But I would agree that if you get the car moving without stalling it or kangarooing, you have learned the hard part. Smooth shifting after that is all power management and making sure you put it in the right gear.:no:
 

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shay2nak said:
At least my Merc has manual shifting auto. It's not the same but it's close.
Sorry, I have to comment.

Don't get me wrong, I think MB's are great cars, albeit incredibly overpriced (I still think a comparable Acura or Volvo is a much better deal $ for $) and unreliable, but I will say that their autoshift "validating the 'sport' lettering on the side molding" feature/debacle is one of the worst travesties I've experienced. Granted, I'm only speaking from my experiences on the parents' E500 and the subsequent C320 loaner, since the damn thing breaks down like my fiancee watching 'Armageddon,' but here's what I've noticed:

Starting from a stop? No problem, give me a second, let's just disengage the torque converter and see what we can do. Oh, and never mind these clearly-intended-for-automatic gear ratios.
Upshifting? Okay, surprisingly smooth, I'll give it that. But it still takes longer than I'd like.
Downshifting? Anyone's guess as to when/if it'll happen.
Rev matching? Next.
Engine braking (whether it be intentional or not)? You bet!

Sorry Shay, this isn't meant to be abrasive toward you, I'm more venting my frustrations at the MB aristocracy. I'm sure you've noticed the same things driving your Civic (not to mention your Elise), which I feel are incredible cars for the niche they fill.
 

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shay2nak
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Irishfan04 said:
Sorry, I have to comment.

Don't get me wrong, I think MB's are great cars, albeit incredibly overpriced (I still think a comparable Acura or Volvo is a much better deal $ for $) and unreliable, but I will say that their autoshift "validating the 'sport' lettering on the side molding" feature/debacle is one of the worst travesties I've experienced. Granted, I'm only speaking from my experiences on the parents' E500 and the subsequent C320 loaner, since the damn thing breaks down like my fiancee watching 'Armageddon,' but here's what I've noticed:

Starting from a stop? No problem, give me a second, let's just disengage the torque converter and see what we can do. Oh, and never mind these clearly-intended-for-automatic gear ratios.
Upshifting? Okay, surprisingly smooth, I'll give it that. But it still takes longer than I'd like.
Downshifting? Anyone's guess as to when/if it'll happen.
Rev matching? Next.
Engine braking (whether it be intentional or not)? You bet!

Sorry Shay, this isn't meant to be abrasive toward you, I'm more venting my frustrations at the MB aristocracy. I'm sure you've noticed the same things driving your Civic (not to mention your Elise), which I feel are incredible cars for the niche they fill.
yeah, I was disappointed too with the shifting. Hey, it's an automatic - manual shifting or not. Obviously it cannot do what you want on downshifting and all that stuff but it's a cruiser. If i need to pass someone, I'll shift it down to 4th myself otherwise the car will take forever to shift and will lose my chance to gain a spot. (it always happened when I first drove the car) For me, it was almost learning how to drive again because I had really never driven a car with auto transmission. If I need to downshift, I'll brake a bit then do it. For the most part I've left everything to the auto. I was skeptical about it, but I like it. It's good in that it has enough power and the gearing is really good that I don't have to downshift unless I want to accelerate like hell.

So far it has not broken down on me. And the BMW 325i was overpriced which is why I bought the Merc. I got a killer deal on the car. I've never really liked Mercs, but I'm really satisfied with the car. The C230 sedan is way better than 325i, especially the 2005s with the AMG packages.

If I need a comfortable cruiser, I take the auto Merc. If I want to drive a bit sporty and go through my gears like mad, I take my stick Civic. That is until my Elise arrives...when? only god knows.
 

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So the same 95 BMW 325is with 171k miles that I have with the original battery (!!) also has the original clutch. What signs should I look for in knowing when the clutch needs to be replaced?

I think the only thing I've actually replaced on that car (besides fluid and such, of course) is the fuel pump.
 

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dana said:
So the same 95 BMW 325is with 171k miles that I have with the original battery (!!) also has the original clutch. What signs should I look for in knowing when the clutch needs to be replaced?

I think the only thing I've actually replaced on that car (besides fluid and such, of course) is the fuel pump.
When you feel the engine rev a bit (without the car and then settle right as you select a gear and release the clutch, it's a sign that it is slipping and needs to be replaced soon.

The biggest mistake I've seen many people so in day to day driving is keeping their foot resting on the clutch when not shifting.... This can wear out many clutches in no time at all.

Here's a little video on heal-toe-ing When you can do that smoothly, I think it is safe to safe you are beyong proficient in driving stick.
 

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Karma,

Nice vid on heel-toe.

One heel-toe tip... to heel-toe you need to move your knee (not just your ankle). The whole action really starts with twisting the knee inward, your ankle alone doesn't twist much. Sounds obvious, but I've rarely heard or seen anyone actually explain it. When an pro-driver pointed it out to me heel-toe was not longer a chore.

Kiyoshi
 

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Okay, I have to chime in.

Until 2002, I averaged about 35,000 miles a year in mostly stick shift cars. At the time, I would claim I was really really good at it. In April 2002, I decided to replace my aging Mustang convertible and my Ford Focus with a new MB C230 "sport coupe" as an only car. In 66,000 miles, has served the role of replacing a convertible as well as an economy car very well. It has not had any problems other than those brought upon by my snow-induced stupidity. A year ago, I was very happy to put a deposit on an Elise so the Merc will remain as my bad weather and Interstate car :)

When I test drove the Merc, I thought the reviews of the six speed stick were spot on - it's not a great transmission, it's notchy, and it's not well-matched to the engine. I decided that since I spend half my life on the beltway, five speeds in an automatic might be a good thing anyway.

The automatic is the best I've ever driven, but it is still very much an automatic. They market the manumatic feature, but all this does is hold the gear like the low ranges do on a traditional automatic. In other words, if you're going 10mph in 3rd gear, it drops you down to 1st gear rather than just hold you in 3rd. If you shift manually, it takes a second for the transmission to respond. If you get too close to the redline, it shifts for you. It's not a direct comparison to a stick shift. All it does for me is control my speed so I don't hit the guy in front of me and keep the revs where they belong when driving on twisty roads to aid with handling.

Driving the manumatic does not teach you a thing about how to drive a stick. It's like flying a flight simulator without any pedals. You make an error, it fixes it for you.

Since I've gotten out of the habit of driving stick on a daily basis, it is no longer second nature for me. I can still do it, but I tend to make small errors here and there. I will certainly be driving my Elise cautiously until I readjust.
 
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