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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys, I have recently sold my bmw 3 series (tiptronic) and now want to upgrade to a Lotus Elise. I have never driven a manual before, am I crazy for buying this car as my first manual car? Will I destroy the transmission by practcing on it? Is it generally easy to learn the manual, how long does it take? My main concern is damaging the car.
 

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Well, if you haven't ordered yet...

....then purchase a beater Ford Focus with manual and learn on that thing. There's quite a wait.

ed
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hell no Im waiting a year, id rather pay 2 grand over MSRP
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I need some motivation here lol
 

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Do you have any friends with manuals? It's not hard to learn.
 

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May sound daft, but why not rent a manual car for the weekend and crunch that gearbox instead !!

Must save you a few dollara in the long run !
 

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Discussion Starter #7
lol all my friends have automatics... Maybe I can take manual driving lessons...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I cannot rent, Im under 21 lol
 

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it depends more on you than the car.

There's nothing super-fragile about the Elise tranny, and there's no reason that learning stick has to be abusive to the car.

You can learn without breaking things. After all, most people learning stick don't have a blown tranny in the garage as payment, right?

The bigger risk is that you get pumped up on the fun and drive beyond your skill. That's easier to do if you're learning stick, since some of the panic reflexes are not obvious, and the Elise could be unforgiving if you lock up the rear.

If you take it easy, accept a slow learning curve, and break both your car and your skills in easily, I'd say go for it.

If you're mechanically inclined and don't mind reading up a bit, the learning will go even faster if you understand exactly what the parts are doing in the machine. If you treat it as a mysterious black box with an extra pedal, it's harder.

To me, automatics are mysterious black boxes with all kinds of crazy hydraulics and cryptic parts...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the great reply, Ground Loop. Before I go further, could you tell me what is "locking the rear" you mention? What is the worst case scenario? If I accidently "break" something, although I have no clue what this something is, does the warranty cover it? Will the dealer know it was my fault? Whats the worst case scenario and how much would it cost me?
Thanks
-Alex

P.S. Do other people agree that one can learn a manual transmission without any accidents?
 

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Learning manual, and the wear on the car depends on the car and the person. I learned on my current 1993 honda accord wagon...which was my dads to begin with. It had 120,000 miles on the clutch when I started learning on it at 16 (first day I got my permit) and I just replaced the factory clutch at 230,000 miles. That is a low power car. I would guess the average user will get 40-70,000 out of the elise clutch since it is high power high performance? correct me if I am wrong. I've heard of people destroying the clutch while learning...and I've heard of people doing virtually nothing to the clutch. Mind you I'm 21, don't own a sports car, and am learning about cars all the time. So I would take everything I just said with a grain of salt, as I may be FOS. I've only been driving for 4 or 5 years. Not the most experienced person in the world.

edit: P.S. My dad has an s2000 now and it seems the clutch is wearing much, much faster than the wagon. I'd imagine the elise will have around the same wear rate?...just a guess. Not based on experience

edit: I would agree with renting a car for the weekend. It will cost less than a new clutch...no matter what. (the clutch for my wagon cost 750 bux. I'd imagine elise is much more expensive)
 

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I think the Elise would be a fairly simple car to learn stick on. It doesn't have a ton of torque, but its low weight more than compensates so makes standing starts pretty easy to do.

What's most likely to get you in trouble is learning to use the gears, while also learning to drive a sports car. Until you get some solid experience, just remember this - do not change gears in a corner, PERIOD. As you get better, you'll learn when you can and can't do this, but for now, just don't. Until I bought an MR2, all of my driving experience was on front wheel drive cars. I had my MR2 less than a month when I learned what you get when you combine a rain-soaked offramp with a mid engined, rear wheel drive car being driven by someone who didn't know better. Car was fine, i was pretty shaken. Downshifting mid-corner was a contributing factor to my near-spin.

Since you don't have an Elise yet, I would recommend buying a manual transmission Miata until the Elise arrives. It'll be a great way to learn stick while also learning how to drive a sports car.
 

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You can do it!

I learned to drive stick in San Francisco in a Lotus Europa.

(SF = very hilly if you've never been there)
 

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keith86a said:
Thanks for the great reply, Ground Loop. Before I go further, could you tell me what is "locking the rear" you mention? What is the worst case scenario? If I accidently "break" something, although I have no clue what this something is, does the warranty cover it? Will the dealer know it was my fault? Whats the worst case scenario and how much would it cost me?
Worst case? Heck, it's a race car. You're flesh and bone. There could be one less cemetery plot for sale. Not to get all evangelical, but hey, driving errors can be fatal.

Here's a typical scenario you will want to avoid learning first-hand:

The air is crisp, and traffic light as you wind your way through some newfound mountain roads. You have the mechanical motions of the stick under control, sunglasses on, some confidence in the tires, and are feelin' your oats.

Coming from a downhill straight into a tight downhill right-hander you have the wheel cranked over pretty good and suddenly feel a surge of mortality as you consider the possibility that you might have entered too hot. Too much speed, too little visibility into the turn makes you suddenly uncomfortable.. what to do?

Your eyes are wide with heady thrill, but as your sphincter snaps shut in a moment of contemplative panic, you lift your foot quickly off the gas.

Maybe you aren't so sure of the right reaction, and you don't even engage the clutch. Doesn't matter -- it's too late. Now the full force of the engine that was your best friend a minute ago is bringing the rear wheels to a rapid halt with compression braking!

You're not sure why, but now you see the autumn trees sweeping by the car at altogether the wrong angle as your own ass end passes you on the left and the car rotates faster and faster..

I'd call that a worst-case scenario. :D

As far as mechanical damage, you could roast your clutch if you are repeatedly launching wrong -- burning too much energy in clutch friction. You could conceivably break gears or shifter parts if you manhandle the shifter, but you'd have to try pretty hard. You could blow up your engine if you downshift on accident from a redline (instead of upshifting), running revs far too high for an instant and slamming your pistons into the valves. It's all possible, but again, not at all likely in mild-mannered driving.

Any one of these failures would be completely obvious to the mechanic as driver error/abuse and not covered by warranty. Lotus parts and labor will be borderline absurd if you're used to domestic cars, so even minor repair could set you back.

Enough doom and gloom, though.. none of it is a sure thing. You CAN learn without damage, and most people do.. You might grind the gears a few times, stall it at a few red lights, slip the clutch a little more than perfect and roll backwards down some uphill stoplights -- but it's only really going to hurt your ego.

It's all up to you. How hard do you drive? How patient are you? How well do you take care of your stuff? How do you react under pressure? Got crazy friends that want to see stunts? That could get expensive.
 

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All the above is true, but personally I would definately learn it in another car first.

Safety wise, the elise can be a very tricky car, especially if you are under 21 and your driving experience isn't as high as it could be (don't think a RWD Beemer makes you an experienced RWD driver, it doesn't). I think the last thing you need when learning to drive the elise safely and properly is yet another signifcant problem, learning to change gears.

Secondly, I don't want to underestimate or insult you in any way, but over here in Holland almost everyone drives a manual. But I now people who have done this for years and years and still don't get it/have no feeling for it. If this happens to you, you will never enjoy the elise.
 

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I'm with a couple of people here and will say the Elise DOES HAVE a Toyota power train, and there's ne reason you can't learn on it. A few suggestions:

1) Keep speeds at or under limits and "suggestions" for a while.
2) Have an experienced clutch driver ride with so he/she can help you get a feel for what you might be doing wrong (if you get an awful burning smell, that would be your clutch-very bad!)
3) Stay out of bad weather for now. No complicating factors
4) Remember your clutch is something to be engaged/disengaged. Your foot should generally NOT be on the clutch. Touch it only if you are shifting or coasting, and keep it pressed to the floor when it is engaged. No halfway.
5) Do NOT use your clutch to maintain a position while stopped on a hill. Use your brakes!

All that said, try it on another car if possible. It would be pretty embarassing to be killing it on your way out of the dealership:D
 

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You guys crack me up. Rent a car and learn! What a great idea. It reminds me of the time I saw people auto crossing a Probe GT rental! Poor car! Thanks for the illustration Ground Loop. Im cracking up laughing at 8am on a Saturday. Too funny.
 

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Barney Jr said:
Safety wise, the elise can be a very tricky car, especially if you are under 21 and your driving experience isn't as high as it could be (don't think a RWD Beemer makes you an experienced RWD driver, it doesn't).
Quite right. The problem isn't so much that the Elise is RWD but more that it's RWD and mid-engined (arguably closer to rear-engined).

There aren't any electronics to keep you on the road. The only thing keeping you on the black stuff is physics and what you do with your hands and feet.

Get the balance right and you'll look cool. Get the balance wrong and you'll end up upside-down, in a ditch, on fire.
 

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my current car is an audi TT and i give it back from leasing it on monday. This was the first manual car i have driven/owned. I didnt even know how to take it home from the dealership ( i had to call my father). I learned on weekends how to drive...it took a couple thousand miles of driving before i didnt stall. Now it seems easy to drive but i still think its not as smooth as an automatic....even when i try to flawlessly shift gears.
 

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it can be done. i learned in a '63 corvette. but i suggest using a beater too just to reduce clutch wear on the lotus.
 
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