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the transmission and the wheels is
disengaged. This prevents the transfer
of engine power to the wheels. It is while
the clutch pedal is pressed down that the
driver changes gears.

The clutch pedal is used to connect
and disconnect the vehicle’s engine and
transmission. When the clutch pedal is
not pressed down, there is a connection
between the engine and transmission,
and the power of the engine is
transmitted to the wheels of the vehicle.

When starting the engine of a vehicle
equipped with a manual transmission, the
gear shift lever should be in the neutral
position and the clutch pedal should be
pressed down completely.

As you begin to release the clutch
pedal by slowly lifting your left foot, the
connection between the engine and the
transmission will begin to be felt before the
pedal is fully released. The point
where this occurs is called the friction
point.

It is at the friction point that you must
slowly release the clutch pedal to prevent
the engine from stalling. At the friction
point, carefully using the gas pedal with
the slow release of the clutch pedal will
help achieve a smooth start. To learn
to use the clutch smoothly, new drivers
should practice using the friction point
without the use of the gas pedal.

When driving a manual transmission
vehicle, it is important to select the proper
gear so that the engine does not lug
(move in rough, bumpy fashion) or race
(rev the engine but not move the car
effectively). The vehicle’s owner’s manual
will provide the approximate speeds at
which you should change gears.

Shifting patterns vary between vehicles

as do the number of gears. Your vehicle’s
owner’s manual will describe the shifting
pattern for your vehicle. A pattern is
usually found at the top of the gear shift
lever.

You can practice moving the gear shift
lever, when the vehicle is not running and
the clutch pedal is pressed all the way
down, into the various gears until you are
sure of the gear locations. You need to be
able to find each gear without looking at
the gear shift when you are driving.

When you are driving, be sure to
remove your foot from the clutch pedal
each time you finish changing to another
gear. Leaving your foot on the clutch
pedal unnecessarily is called “riding the
clutch” and can cause extra wear on the
clutch.

When you wish to brake or come
to a stop, do not coast to a stop while
pressing the clutch pedal. Pressing on the
clutch pedal like this prevents you from
being able to use the accelerator.

When turning corners, be sure your
vehicle is in the proper gear for the speed
of the turn, and that your foot is off the
clutch pedal.

Only use the clutch pedal to start the
vehicle, change from one gear to the
next, and just before you stop to prevent
stalling.

Steering

Think of the steering wheel as a clock.
To have the best vehicle control, place
your left hand at about the 9 o’clock
position. Your right hand should be at
about the 3 o’clock position. If this is not
possible due to the design of the steering

CHAPTER THREE                                                                                                THE BASICS OF DRIVING  45

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