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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't know any other manual drivers to ask, so here goes..


Let's say you are making a turn, or taking a curve, and you'll start and end the turn in the same gear. Do you put the car into neutral during the turn at all? Or maybe just put down the clutch to take it out of gear for a few seconds?

That's what I've been habitually doing, I suppose to not lug the engine while I'm putting on the brakes. But I'm wondering if there are better driving habits I should be developing.

Thanks,
- Joe
 

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I'm very rarely in neutral while moving, no real reason to do so, nor do I push the clutch in except to change gears. I usually downshift for turns, either to help the car rotate or if driving leisurely just to keep the engine at a decent rpm.
 

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No don't, you have to utilize the engine compression as a method of reducing speed. Momentum is better scrubbed by engine compression. Utilizing brakes constantly produce two negative effects; overheating brake pad/glazing and losing engine speed. To control your momentum thru the apex of the turn you need the use of the throttle and specific gear. Taking it out of gear, defeats this completely. Select the right gear on approach and use the throttle to move thru the turn.
 

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I was always taught that it’s safer to always be in a gear when moving that way if for whatever reason you need to hit the gas to avoid someone or something you’re already in gear. Now you can always put it back to a gear from neutral but it’s better to stay in a gear, you’ll have to put it in gear when exiting the turn to proceed so I recommend you learn how to downshift or even turn the auto rev match on your car on and downshift like that. You can always learn how to heel toe also, it’s fun and helpful in turns but it’s really not necessary. You can just brake then down shift and keep braking and downshifting to the right speed and gear you need to be in to take the turn.
 

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I agree fully with Red VN, using the back torque of the engine while slowing will definitely reduce brake wear and with the rev matching on, it makes downshifting a breeze if you aren’t familiar with heel/toe driving. I usually make sure the tach is around 3k or less rpm’s before downshifting to any gear but as with anything, practice makes perfect. I’m no driving instructor but putting the car in neutral while taking a turn can potentially cause control issues due to unsettling the suspension and chassis depending on how fast you’re going.
 

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I don't know any other manual drivers to ask, so here goes..


Let's say you are making a turn, or taking a curve, and you'll start and end the turn in the same gear. Do you put the car into neutral during the turn at all? Or maybe just put down the clutch to take it out of gear for a few seconds?

That's what I've been habitually doing, I suppose to not lug the engine while I'm putting on the brakes. But I'm wondering if there are better driving habits I should be developing.

Thanks,
- Joe

Firstly: You'll continue to progress in your relationship with the car so none of this advice may even be applicable in the future. Your shifting is going to be quicker, your sense of how the car reacts at different RPMs will be better, and you'll get comfortable with things like blipping the throttle to downshift, and then getting on brake even as your left foot continues to work the clutch. As you learn how the car works, you'll eventually tolerate a wider range of RPMs. I don't heel-toe.

In GENERAL: Avoid being in neutral. It's annoying and potentially dangerous if you have to change course for any reason and find yourself unable to speed up if needed. Coasting is not the most stable state for the car - you are slowing down, shifting a bit of weight towards the front wheels, and none of the computer-controlled traction control is actually active. For an extreme example of how bad this could be if you really mess things up, look up "lift-off oversteer crash" on youtube. Not the same thing as going into neutral, but the concept is there. You will probably get surprised at some point and find yourself in neutral in a corner somewhere - whatever. It's not the end of the world, just get into gear when able.

As you get better at shifting, you'll naturally downshift prior to corners as needed, and also if you mess up and downshift late, you'll able to do it quickly and smoothly in the corner without jerking the car. Not optimal, but it happens. Don't worry too much about going fast for now.

Additionally, you can let the RPMs fall pretty low before risking stalling (I go down to 1500 in 3rd in my neighborhood regularly), and as long as you're just cruising and lightly accelerating out of the corner (not trying to exit the corner with a ton of throttle), it'll be fine. If it's really slow (like if you get unexpectedly stuck behind a driver who brakes loooooong and hard at every corner), I just carefully downshift mid-corner. In those cases it's not like you're at the limit of car handling or traction anyway, so who cares.

The EXCEPTION for me is turning into super-tight corners, like turning into a parking lot at very low speed. In those I'll make the corner in neutral... sort of. I'll approach in 3rd quickly (say, around 35mph, brake firmly, and then put the shifter into 2nd and keep the clutch pushed in for the 90 degree turn and 7 mph crawl over the bumpy, broken, parking lot threshold. With my clutch is in, I'll come off the brake when appropriate and then just blip the gas, let the clutch out, and drive into the parking lot.

Could I do this by downshifting into 2nd as I approach the parking lot? Sure, but it's annoying. If I downshift early, 2nd gear will be at 4-5000 rpm due to my speed which is a nuisance when doing something as mundane as rolling into a parking lot. If I downshift late, I'll have to brake firmly and complete it before reaching the parking lot, do the downshift while already moving slowly, then potentially have to brake again while entering the corner.

ADDENDUM: I downshift to slow down fairly regularly (especially on looong highway offramps), but I don't get all crazy about it. Some people make it sound like a chant from a cult: "DOWNSHIFTING SAVES YOUR BRAKES." Yeah, except that brakes are meant to be replaced and literally exist for the sole reason of slowing the car down, so use them appropriately. If they were that fragile, then automatics would be totally unreliable pieces of garbage.
 

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1. On corner approach: Apply BRAKES (wheels straight)
2. Just before corner: Lift off of brake pedal and allow weight transfer to settle the car (wheels *still* straight)
3. Corner entrance: Aim for the apex with steering (STAY IN LANE! -- Duh)
4. At turn apex: accelerate through the rest of the turn.

If you need to downshift, do so between step 1 and 2. Learn to recognize the weight transfer from the front wheels to the rear when braking *and* when shifting (up- or down-shifting). Try to let the car settle before making any steering movements.

If you ever take the MSF course for riding a motorcycle, you learn the following mantra for negotiating a turn: Slow. Look. Lean. Roll on (throttle). Same (sorta) principle applies.

--JamesT
 

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I always was told the rule was to take the turn in the gear I wanted to be in when leaving the turn.

So in practice if there is a sharp tight left, I may approach it at high speed in 5th or 6th, hit the brakes (before the turn) till I can downshift to second or third, then take the turn accelerating out of the apex of the turn, and shift back up when appropriate.

Maybe this is bad driving?
 

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... I may approach it at high speed in 5th or 6th, hit the brakes (before the turn) till I can downshift to second or third, then take the turn accelerating out of the apex of the turn, and shift back up when appropriate. Maybe this is bad driving?
I think there's not really a problem here (and by no means am I a racer, just a fan) with taking the moment to do nothing but downshift in a street setting. It's safe as it forces you to enter the corner at a low speed - you MUST brake early to give yourself time for the downshift. Low chance of understeering so long as you don't mash the gas pedal.

However, in a racing setting it'll make things like trail braking difficult if not impossible? Someone feel free to correct me.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I think this is how Nicholas Cage drives the Shelby in Gone in 60 Seconds. I remember him just mashing the clutch and brake simultaneously before cornering and downshifting so that must mean it's definitely acceptable :grin:
 

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I think there's not really a problem here (and by no means am I a racer, just a fan) with taking the moment to do nothing but downshift in a street setting. It's safe as it forces you to enter the corner at a low speed - you MUST brake early to give yourself time for the downshift. Low chance of understeering so long as you don't mash the gas pedal.

However, in a racing setting it'll make things like trail braking difficult if not impossible? Someone feel free to correct me.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I think this is how Nicholas Cage drives the Shelby in Gone in 60 Seconds. I remember him just mashing the clutch and brake simultaneously before cornering and downshifting so that must mean it's definitely acceptable :grin:
I don't know about the Cage Rage, but I think think trail braking is still viable, although you will need increasingly impressive heel-toe skills/3 feet/paddle shifting

The procedure would change to:

Approach sharp tight left at high speed in 5th or 6th, hit the brakes (before the turn) till I can downshift to second or third, Begin to turn while still holding on brakes, lifting off gradually as apex approaches, then accelerate out of the apex of the turn, and shift back up when appropriate.

I believe this is the procedure in F1 racing. I have never seen them downshift while actually in a turn, but unsettling an F1 car during a turn is a way bigger problem then in a Veloster N.
 

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I don't know about the Cage Rage, but I think think trail braking is still viable, although you will need increasingly impressive heel-toe skills/3 feet/paddle shifting

The procedure would change to:

Approach sharp tight left at high speed in 5th or 6th, hit the brakes (before the turn) till I can downshift to second or third, Begin to turn while still holding on brakes, lifting off gradually as apex approaches, then accelerate out of the apex of the turn, and shift back up when appropriate.

I believe this is the procedure in F1 racing. I have never seen them downshift while actually in a turn, but unsettling an F1 car during a turn is a way bigger problem then in a Veloster N.

Once I learned about trail braking, I started doing it in every manual (and most autos) I drive. I heel/toe very well (big feet help) and I left foot brake in autos (learning how to do that in manuals as well when I don't need to use the clutch).


But, to go back to the original post, don't coast through curves. I assume the OP isn't very experienced with manuals, and that's why they're doing it. Learn when to gear down/up, and work on gaining confidence in basic driving and keeping the car in gear through curves. When I was teaching my brother in law to drive a manual, he kept doing that too because he was afraid of stalling it. Takes practice to learn that confidence, but so long as you're in a good gear, you won't stall. If you're in too high a gear, you'll feel it fighting you/lugging and then remember that for next time.
 

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You can utilize trail braking to square off a turn but it also scrub off speed to a greater amount. Generally, it will cause more oversteer then necessary and require you to readjust your line in the middle of the turn. If you're not experienced don't attempt it. If you screw up your off the track or road.

It works wonders with a motorcycle but not so much with a auto. You can't adjust the reward brake bias in the VN or most cars to make any appreciable difference. On a motorcycle you can utilize the rear brake independently and power thru the turn on throttle. This squares off the turn for a hard launch forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey folks,

Major thanks and kudos for all the advice!

Honestly, I felt like this might be silly or overly-persnickety question. But it sounds like it points to the fact I have a lot to learn and lots of improvement opportunities in my driving habits. This thread is awesome for me, since I have maybe 2 friends that know about stick-shifting. And I'm pretty sure they don't know about the advice you've been kind enough to share!

Salud,
- Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
FWIW,

- I learned to drive a stick back when I met my wife. Only occasionally drove it. It was an MR2, the boxy kind.

- About 4 years ago, I bought my first manual to drive daily. An 8th gen Civic Si.

- Shortly after getting the Si, I asked my highly trusted mechanic and my wife the same question that kicked off this thread. My mechanic said it was fine to coast in neutral when coming to a stop. My wife said to stay in gear. Of course, I didn't go with my wife's advice, and went with the mechanic. (Don't shoot me if you read this, Mrs. G.!) In other words, my "neutral" habits are ingrained in me for about 4 years. BTW, it was only the last 5 months with a car that I realized that "going into VTEC" was a normal, blissful thrill to take with that car.

- So a few minutes ago, I ask my wife the question again. (BTW, she hasn't driven a stick since the MR2.) She said she almost never puts a stick in neutral, even when waiting at a stoplight. I told her that a trusted forum was telling me I need to change my ways, and stay out of neutral gear on turns and slowdowns. However, I'm pretty darn sure she's wrong to be in a gear at a stoplight, since that would mean keep the clutch down all that time.

Thx,
- Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Last post --- at least for today.

I'm reading your stuff, and bookmarking a few YouTubes and articles.

From Jalopnik comes this advice
https://jalopnik.com/how-to-drive-a-stick-shift-in-ten-easy-steps-5230172


While downshifting, move from clutch to brake while in gear. This will help you slow down without revving too high between gears.

If you are driving 45 mph in fourth gear and come upon a stop sign ahead:

- Push in the clutch and shift down to third while using the brake.
- Let the clutch out slowly to avoid high revs.
- Next, do it again into second before you stop.
- Don’t downshift into first!


Umm, do you agree? It implies walking down each gear -- except 1st -- before you approach a stop. Offhand, walking down each gear seems like too much. But as long as retooling my skills, I might as well get it right.


Thx
 

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Last post --- at least for today.

I'm reading your stuff, and bookmarking a few YouTubes and articles.

From Jalopnik comes this advice
https://jalopnik.com/how-to-drive-a-stick-shift-in-ten-easy-steps-5230172


While downshifting, move from clutch to brake while in gear. This will help you slow down without revving too high between gears.

If you are driving 45 mph in fourth gear and come upon a stop sign ahead:

- Push in the clutch and shift down to third while using the brake.
- Let the clutch out slowly to avoid high revs.
- Next, do it again into second before you stop.
- Don’t downshift into first!


Umm, do you agree? It implies walking down each gear -- except 1st -- before you approach a stop. Offhand, walking down each gear seems like too much. But as long as retooling my skills, I might as well get it right.


Thx
I personally stay in neutral until I see the opposite light turn yellow because that usually means my light is about to turn green, then I put it in first gear and then go, but just be aware of your surroundings and make sure if you need to move your car for some reason you’re able to put it in first gear fast and move out of the way. I have some lights in my city that take FOREVER to turn green that’s the reason why I put my car on neutral at lights (and I’m sure it reduces wear on the throw out bearing). In stop signs I usually just keep my car in first if I’m already in first I don’t go neutral then again in first.
 

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Last post --- at least for today.

I'm reading your stuff, and bookmarking a few YouTubes and articles.

From Jalopnik comes this advice
https://jalopnik.com/how-to-drive-a-stick-shift-in-ten-easy-steps-5230172


While downshifting, move from clutch to brake while in gear. This will help you slow down without revving too high between gears.

If you are driving 45 mph in fourth gear and come upon a stop sign ahead:

- Push in the clutch and shift down to third while using the brake.
- Let the clutch out slowly to avoid high revs.
- Next, do it again into second before you stop.
- Don’t downshift into first!


Umm, do you agree? It implies walking down each gear -- except 1st -- before you approach a stop. Offhand, walking down each gear seems like too much. But as long as retooling my skills, I might as well get it right.


Thx
Also if you downshift make sure you’re rev matching or have the auto rev match on! And yea never downshift to first. Honestly downshifting from 3 to 2 gear is kinda hard I remember when I was learning to downshift I wouldn’t downshift to second until I got really good at rev matching then I started down shifting to second
 

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Any time you depress the clutch pedal and disengage the clutch the throw out bearing has to take all the clamping force produced by the pressure plate. I'm assuming in the VN that is at least 1,300 lbs (as an example my VW had a clutch w/ 2,300 lbs of clamping force). I don't want to have to replace a throw out bearing separate from a clutch replacement as the labor is almost the same to change just the throw out bearing. Any time I'm stopped in a manual I find neutral as quick as I can and get my foot completely off the clutch pedal. But that's just my $.02
 

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First off, everything you do regarding shifting is conditional to the situation at hand.


Under ideal circumstances (You being an aware driver, no cross traffic, no oncoming traffic, approaching a stop sign/light and you're alone on the road) nothing wrong with seeing the approaching stop and putting the car in neutral, foot off clutch and braking to a stop.


Under less than ideal situations, having the car in a lower gear for mechanical advantage in slowing down gradually as you approach is a good plan as it gives you another option (the ability to accelerate away from a situation), but again situational awareness is key.


What I do in general is downshift when appropriate, rev matching as needed for a smooth shift, and once I am actually coming to a stop, car in neutral until I see that the cross traffic light has changed to yellow or red, then I'm in first and prepared to go. Once stopped, always car in netural foot off the clutch to prevent undue wear on the throwout bearing. OP is clearly learning how to shift, and it's great that you're doing so. Ideally when you are in motion you need to be in gear and foot off clutch. You should only use the clutch when changing gears or going to neutral, period. Clutch should not be depressed for any longer than it takes to shift gears to prevent wear on the throwout bearing.



As you gain confidence/experience you'll understand how much more control you have with a manual vs any automatic/automated manual and you'll come to appreciate that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Quick update: The first change I'm making this week hasn't been too hard. I'm just telling myself to "avoid neutral", except at a stoplight. So now I'm going to third and second rather than coast in neutral to stoplight. And I'm parking the car in gear.

More work to come, but this first change hasn't been too tough.

Also, I'm cornering in gear. Getting the full advice for good cornering will take some time, but its coming.

Thanks,
- Joe
 
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