By   April 7, 2015

Hurst Speed Shifter Transmission

Manual Transmission

If you are like us then you are a fan of the traditional manual transmission. The driving experience is just more fun with a third pedal and that can improve your performance car lifestyle.

But if you aren’t an accomplished driver, then you may still be a little green when driving a manual. People also aren’t often taught very well with how best to drive a car with a stick and the lessons normally focus on keeping from killing the car.

Click past the jump (or scroll down if you came directly to the full article) to find out some tips on how to better drive a manual car.

5. Don’t Ride The Clutch

We hope that you already know this, but even slightly touching the clutch pedal while driving could lead to premature wear. On a more expensive car like a Porsche, this is even more important as the cost to replace a clutch can be very high.

Whenever your clutch pedal is all the way up or all the way down it isn’t engaged and no wear should occur. However, the travel between having it fully pushed in and fully released is where the part becomes worn.

To try and keep your clutch in good running order you should try to keep it all the way down to the floor or all the way up as much as possible. This should be the case in most driving conditions if you want it to last longer.

4. Use Your Brakes

It is true that your transmission and engine can slow your car down. However, it costs less and is easier to replace your brakes than your car’s clutch.

Downshifting to help slow the car at times may be appropriate and it does look cooler. However, If you want to keep repair costs lower for a longer period of time, you will simply put it in neutral and use your brakes.

3. Smoothness

This is one that is often overlooked, but smooth shifting is not only better for your transmission, but it can help you drive faster. Sure you want to shift into the next gear as fast as you can, but if you don’t get it done smoothly it can affect the balance of the car from front to back.

On the road you won’t notice any huge affects, except the car being jerky and possible premature wear of the clutch. However, if you go on a track and don’t get your shifts right it can cause your lap times to be slightly slower and remember how much difference just one second makes on a racing circuit.

2. When To Use Heel-Toe Shifting

Heel-Toe shifting allows you to stop the car quicker as it uses the brake and engine / transmission to slow the car down (in case you don’t know what it is, it involves having part of your foot on the gas and brake at the same time to allow you to match revs while downshifting). This technique is great on the track and can really lower your lap times.

However, on the road it is usually overkill and it can cause your clutch to have additional wear. Although there are some times when you may be on a back mountain road that it may be appropriate for the situation, most of the time the technique is best saved for the track (unless practicing on a safe strip of road or a parking lot before a track day).

1. Rev Matching

Rev matching can help reduce the amount of wear you put on your clutch and transmission. The reason for this is when you need to downshift the engine RPMs will likely be too low. To compensate for this you apply a bit of gas to get the car in the desired RPM range.

The correct range is different depending on the car, but it usually is about 500-1,000 RPMs higher than the current gear. So, if you are at 2,000 RPMs in 3rs gear and think you need to be in 2nd gear you would put in the clutch pedal all the way, then step on the gas to get it to about 3,000 RPMs and let out the clutch pedal.

If you get this right, your down shifting will be very smooth. This smoothness also helps clutch life as it makes sure that everything is turning at roughly the same speed.


Cars with three pedals are often more fun than those with two. If you follow these tips you can enjoy having the same clutch just a bit longer and not pay for an expensive repair as often.

Picture source: Bill Wrigley

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  • Aktifspeed

    Heal-Toe Shifting
    Heal-Toe Shifting

    • Aktifspeed

      I meant to write… check spelling. It’s the Heel of the foot… Now ho and Heal that spelling error….

      • Jamlen

        Your example on rev matching is described incorrectly. If you’re in 2nd gear at 2000 rpm and shifting up to 3rd gear, the engine speed will not increase to 3000 rpm, it will decrease to some lower RPM. Maybe you should have said that if you’re in 2nd gear at 3000 rpm, shifting into 3rd gear would result in a decrease in engine speed to around 2000 rpm.

        • David Hurth

          Thanks for pointing that out. I had the gears mixed up in the article and it has been corrected now.

      • David Hurth

        Thanks for pointing that out, I’ve corrected the typo.