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Old 03-09-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
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Struggling a bit with 1st gear shift from stop - is it me or the car?

So I've been driving manual now since December, I had rudimentary skills prior, but this is my first manual car.

OK, so I am still struggling a bit with the stop to 1st gear shift. When I was first learning and practicing, I would do this: I would let the clutch out until I felt it engage, and then apply the gas. This definitely took longer.

My second route as I attempt to make it smoother is to slowly let the clutch up, and at the same time, start to apply the gas, like a sea-saw.

Somestimes I do it well and the car goes smoothly. But a lot of the times, either it seems like I let the clutch out too high and the car starts to shake a bit if I am a little late on the gas, or I gas too soon and I overrev it a bit.

Best I've done is when it slightly revs up, and then engages as I try to do the clutch/gas simultaneously.

OK, so is it really this tricky? Do I just need more practice? When you shift smoothly, what exactly should the car be doing and not be doing?

I have 56k on original clutch. Is it possible my clutch is going and that's why it is harder to smoothly engage? I just can't get that "fast" start.

And of course, the more incline and hill there is, the harder it becomes and the easier it is for me to stall.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:09 PM   #2
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Don't overthink it. Goose the throttle and apply some gas before letting the clutch out. You'll get it, it just takes practice. When done right, it should be almost as smooth as an automatic

On hills, hold your you e-brake up with the button depressed and let it down as you start to take off.
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Old 03-10-2013, 06:50 AM   #3
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What he said. Bump up RPMs then let the clutch out into it. You will learn how to keep the RPMs up while letting the clutch out and take off smoother and faster. Do not ride the clutch. Once it's out, foot off of the pedal.

For hills I like to brake and gas at the same time with the right foot. You will learn this too.
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:19 AM   #4
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Using higher RPM's is a band-aid and not addressing the root cause.

The most likely problem is that you are generally letting the cluch out in one continuous movement and trying to make ammends using the throttle. This is not the best technique for a smooth start although it will work.

The key to a smooth start is to let the clutch out until the clutch starts to engage, then hold the clutch for just the slightest moment at this point, and then continue letting it out - all while feeding in some throttle.

Holding the clutch for a bit at the point of engagement makes all of the difference and most drivers do this naturally without even thinking or noticing that they do it.

Here is an easy way to learn to learn to do this;

Find a quiet, flat street. With the engine idling, let out the clutch and get the car moving SMOOTHLY without using any throttle. That's it. Do this sucessfully about 10 times and you'll be 10x smoother when using the throttle.

This technique will force you to learn where the clutch engagement point is and how to hold it there in order to get the car moving smoothly. If you move the clutch in one continuous movement, you won't pause at the clutch engagement point and you'll have a jerky start or kill the engine.

Once you have the feel of this technique with no throttle, its a snap to use it with the throttle and you'll be banging off smooth starts without worry.
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Last edited by thstone; 03-10-2013 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:53 AM   #5
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Find a quiet, flat street. With the engine idling, let out the clutch and get the car moving SMOOTHLY without using any throttle. That's it. Do this successfully about 10 times and you'll be 10x smoother when using the throttle.
This is excellent advice. It certainly helped me a lot. I had found my Boxster the most challenging manual car of all the ones I've owned to start from a stop. And I've owned nothing but manual cars for the last 25 years.

BTW: I first heard about this from the Car Talk guys. I was surprised how much it helped

Last edited by thom4782; 03-10-2013 at 07:59 AM. Reason: Added BTW
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:15 AM   #6
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
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Struggling a bit with 1st gear shift from stop - is it me or the car?

If you shift into neutral at stop lights (as I do) don't rev the engine or it may be hard to get back in gear, as cool as it might sound.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:45 PM   #8
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Look for the bite point. is it halfway? or only a quarter way? or 3/4's? once you've got the number figured out you'll eventually stop overthinking the process and rely on muscle memory.
your left leg will innately recognize the bite, step one is done, but don't release just hold. Then your right leg will come in and start to feather the throttle down to take over and relieve the left leg of its duty. after dozens of these your brain concentrates on the road and not what's going elsewhere.
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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Struggling a bit with 1st gear shift from stop - is it me or the car?

Yep, that's what I'm noticing. How do the rpms look during this process? Is it normal for them to rev slightly before you are off?

Last night it was so much harder for some reason, but today was better. Maybe the clutch was tired? Ha.
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:37 PM   #10
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All good advice given.

Learn the point where your clutch "bites" and then you marry the correct amount of throttle into it.

This car is one of the more difficult to drive, AT FIRST. It seems jerky, temperamental, and unforgiving….however, when you get it right - there is not a more rewarding car to drive!

It is not uncommon to take a few weeks before you "gel with the car". Once you do, your skills are graciously rewarded!

That's why they say, "It is a driver's car." Take your time and become a TRUE DRIVER! Not just someone getting from point A to B….you will be someone who cannot wait to get off their "A" and just "B".

There. Now you have just thought more about this than you were supposed to. Put some miles on the car…you'll get it!
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Old 03-10-2013, 04:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by thstone View Post
Using higher RPM's is a band-aid and not addressing the root cause.

The most likely problem is that you are generally letting the cluch out in one continuous movement and trying to make ammends using the throttle. This is not the best technique for a smooth start although it will work.

The key to a smooth start is to let the clutch out until the clutch starts to engage, then hold the clutch for just the slightest moment at this point, and then continue letting it out - all while feeding in some throttle.

Holding the clutch for a bit at the point of engagement makes all of the difference and most drivers do this naturally without even thinking or noticing that they do it.

Here is an easy way to learn to learn to do this;

Find a quiet, flat street. With the engine idling, let out the clutch and get the car moving SMOOTHLY without using any throttle. That's it. Do this sucessfully about 10 times and you'll be 10x smoother when using the throttle.

This technique will force you to learn where the clutch engagement point is and how to hold it there in order to get the car moving smoothly. If you move the clutch in one continuous movement, you won't pause at the clutch engagement point and you'll have a jerky start or kill the engine.

Once you have the feel of this technique with no throttle, its a snap to use it with the throttle and you'll be banging off smooth starts without worry.
Great tutorial! Teaching manual trans is kinda like teaching water skiing, you first have to get the student to ignore their natural instinct & do what you would not expect to be the right way.
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Old 03-10-2013, 05:19 PM   #12
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thstone is dead on. But keep in mind that this car also has a hesitation that kicks in sometimes when the car is warm. If it hits you and you are not used to it the car will stall if you continue to let out the clutch. The solution is simple. Either give it a blip of gas to compensate or just hold the clutch where it is for a half second then continue.

Of course if I cleaned my MAF maybe I and others would not have this issue. But I've seen quite a few comments on it.
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Old 03-12-2013, 04:33 PM   #13
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Struggling a bit with 1st gear shift from stop - is it me or the car?

Awesome posts guys, I've been practicing and feeling better.

A question: for you guys with a lot of manual experience, do even you sometimes get in an uncomfortable position once in a while?

By this I mean stall at a light, get caught on a big hill start with someone right up to your bumper, or just a general unsmooth shift.
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Old 03-12-2013, 05:26 PM   #14
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Awesome posts guys, I've been practicing and feeling better.

A question: for you guys with a lot of manual experience, do even you sometimes get in an uncomfortable position once in a while?

By this I mean stall at a light, get caught on a big hill start with someone right up to your bumper, or just a general unsmooth shift.
Yes, yes & yes
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:16 PM   #15
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Very rarely, but I've been practicing the operation of 3 pedals with 2 feet for quite some time... You may consider utilizing the e-brake on steep hills until you become more accustom to feet only ops...
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:39 PM   #16
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Yep, I've been driving a manual now for 7 years (started when I was 18) and every once in a while I'll make an embarrassing mistake.

Like someone else mentioned, these cars are a bit harder than most. It was something I noticed as well. These are pretty strong pressure plates, and I think the dual-mass flywheel has something to do with the fact it's a little harder. But practice makes perfect.
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:08 PM   #17
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Struggling a bit with 1st gear shift from stop - is it me or the car?

Have you guys ever had this feeling: either on a hill or a funny start, or even after a stall, do you guys get a bit of a lost feeling for the engagement point of the clutch? Usual result is over revving or close to stall.
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:33 PM   #18
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Maybe its not all you....

What year is your car? How many miles? How old is the motor mount? When was the last time the clutch fluid was changed?

I have a 98 box with 118K I picked up last fall. The clutch was much tougher to engage smoothly than my 2000S. I replaced the motor mount as the car had the usual 3K vibration. As a nice aside, the clutch is now much smoother to engage from a stop in first gear.
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:43 PM   #19
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2001 with 56k - still on the original clutch and fluid. Clutch seems fine and no slippage, but I am sure a brand new clutch would feel a bit different.
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Old 03-13-2013, 06:15 AM   #20
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2001 with 56k - still on the original clutch and fluid. Clutch seems fine and no slippage, but I am sure a brand new clutch would feel a bit different.
My 1999 had 73,000 miles when I purchased last fall. I have driven manual off and on all my life, though I have had automatic for the past few years.

I kept feeling some chatter first thing in the morning, and in certain situations. The clutch engage point was about 2-3 inches from the top. This made it hard to drive.

Last month I had my indy install a new clutch, because I didn't want to get into a flywheel replacement by waiting too long. Wow, what a big difference! He told me I came in just at the right time. It was almost ready to start wearing into the flywheel.

Now the car is so much more fun to drive! Clutch engages about 3 inches from the floor, and now I can take off much better.

Maybe that's part of what you are experiencing. A worn clutch can make it more difficult to drive, especially on take off.
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