How To Drive a Car: Driver's Training

Get Tips for Driving a Car with a Manual and Automatic Transmission

Girl driving car
Cars come with either an automatic or a manual transmission. In a car with automatic transmission you will not be required to change gears manually, whereas, with a manual transmission, gear changing is done by the driver rather than by the car itself. If you're new to driving, it is always preferable that your learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission. This way, once you've gained proficiency, you can drive any type of car. 

Step 1

Getting started. It is always advisable to register with a driving school where you will be taught the basics of driving safety and will learn how to drive with the help of a trained instructor. Driving schools also take care of all of the formalities connected with getting a driver's license and will help you ace the final driving lessons and tests. In most areas, you must undergo driver's training before getting a license.

Step 2

Learning the basics. When you first sit in the driver's seat, take some time to familiarize yourself with the various controls and other elements of the dashboard.  The first thing you need to do is to adjust the height of the seat and the distance from the steering wheel so that you are placed in a comfortable driving position. Now, let's assume you're learning to drive a manual transmission car. On the floorboard in front of the seat there are three pedals - the clutch, brakes and the accelerator or gas pedal. While driving, your feet will move between these three pedals based on the action you will be taking while driving. Next to the driver's seat on the right is the gearshift lever, which you will use to change gears. On top of the gearshift is a line diagram which shows how you move into each gear, beginning from the first gear on the top left to the reverse gear on the bottom right of the diagram. The neutral gear falls in a line between the top and bottom gear lines (think the letter H, where the crossbar is neutral and the top two and bottom two are the first to fourth gears and an additional line towards the bottom depicts the reverse). In case, you are driving in a car which has a fifth gear, and additional line next to the third gear will be depicted.

Step 3

Starting the car. As soon as you enter the car, put on your seatbelt. Next, check that the parking brake is on. To drive a car with a manual transmission, press the clutch pedal fully and move the gearshift into neutral. Turn on the ignition key to start the car.

Step 4

Moving into first gear. While your left foot is still holding the clutch pedal down, move the gear stick into first gear. This will be a movement from neutral towards the top first line. Apply the foot brake using your right foot and release the parking break. When you're ready to begin moving, move your right foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal and release the clutch pedal slowly and simultaneously press down on the gas pedal, again slowly. Releasing the clutch and pressing on the accelerator will be a slow, concurrent motion. The car will now begin to move forward.

Step 5

Changing gears. Change gears while driving each time you have reached one speed level and are ready to move on to the next level. Every time you change gears remember to press down your foot on the clutch. Not doing this will cause the gears to grind together and will cause wear and tear or immediate seizing of the engine. Pay attention to the engine noise to know when you need to change gears. If at a certain speed the engine appears to sputter, you need to move into the next lower gear. If the engine noise is a high screeching, it means you're going at a speed higher than the gear is capable of; in such a case, immediately move into the next higher gear.

Step 6

Slowing and stopping. Take the pressure off your right foot, which is on the accelerator, when you want to reduce speed and press down on the clutch to downshift into a lesser gear until you've reached the second gear. Then apply the foot brakes while slowly releasing the clutch pedal. When stopping, you should press down the clutch and move into first gear just before stopping fully.

Step 7

Using the reverse gear. When starting the car and turning on the reverse, move the gear from the neutral position to the reverse gear, release the clutch slowly while pressing down on the gas pedal. Use the steering wheel to go in the desired direction.

Learning how to drive a car takes time and patience--especially when learning to drive cars with manual transmissions. Start driving with a trained instructor to guide you when you are first learning and practice in wide open spaces where there is no traffic. Once you've gained some confidence, you can begin by driving slowly in traffic to get used to frequently changing gears, slowing and stopping and moving again as per the traffic flow.


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