Driving a Stick Shift

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man


Dear Bob,
I recently purchased a 1989 Mercury Tracer, five-speed, and disagree with my spouse on the best way to drive. Jon says it's best to "wind out" the speeds before shifting; I was taught (many years ago) to shift when the engine sounds as though it wants to shift. Jon says my way is like driving an automatic and with a manual, it's best not to shift too soon. When I "wind out" the gears, it sounds as if it needs a new muffler.

Also, does it matter if you stop by downshifting or by braking? I'd heard downshifting is hard on the clutch while braking is hard on the brakes. Are either of these true?

The car has 83,000 miles and has been superbly maintained. How long can I expect the clutch to last? The transmission was lubed but the clutch has never been replaced.
Marie K.

Marie,
Personally, this is how I drive a manual transmission (this applies to all cars except high-performance/muscle cars, in which I do the opposite): When driving a manual transmission car, I usually shift at no higher than 2500-3000 rpm. This will not only extend the life of the clutch, but will save on fuel economy. Now, I understand what your husband is saying; it is not "fun" to drive like that, and sometimes I feel like an old lady, but oh well...that's when the hot rod comes into play. Cars that are made to be shifted hard are shifted hard. Now as for downshifting, it is cheaper to change brake pads than it is to change a clutch!
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man


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