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Old 08-22-2005, 04:42 PM   #1
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Upshifting and Downshifting

"I am interested in learning more about proper clutch use, upshifting and downshifting to maximize performance and minimize clutch and engine wear. Could you start a new thread and discuss this? I'm all ears (or eyes as it were)."


Well, we can discuss it if people want.

Minimizing clutch wear is easy--don't use the clutch, don't slip the clutch. It'll last longer.

Minimizing engine wear is also easy--don't get into high revs.

Maximizing performance is a toughy though. What is "performance"? Does that pertain to making the transmission last longer, or are we talking about lap times?

Actually, that's not as hard to categorize as one might think since "lap times" and "tranny reliability" aren't mutually exclusive. Learning how to rev-match your downshifts is definitely good for drivetrain wear, for instance.

There is one key to maximizing durability of parts: "Drive smoothly":

- Don't throw the car into second and slam the throttle so fast that the car jerks. That's extra force that's going through little itty bitty gearsets like a hammer.

- Don't let the wheels hop or spin because every time those tires find traction you're hammering on your gears with your engine.

- Be smooth with the throttle--don't just let off the gas from full throttle, don't tap the throttle fast when cruising around in first and second gear, etc.

First and second gear are your most powerful gears, with second being your real workhorse gear. It's very easy to damage these two gears if you're not careful.

Anyone else that wants to contribute, please do!

(Now, with all of that in mind, I'm still wondering how I broke my tranny, as I know all of this and don't beat on the car, IMHO...)

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Old 08-22-2005, 05:16 PM   #2
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You broke the tranny in your brand new boxster?
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Old 08-23-2005, 12:32 PM   #3
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Well, the tranny broke, whether or not _I_ had anything to do with it is debatable.

Check this thread out:

http://www.986forum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3459
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Old 08-25-2005, 03:02 PM   #4
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I'd add the following and elaborate on my previous post...

I notice a surprising number of stick drivers who don't let the engine wind down and push in the clutch as soon, or too early as they start braking/decelerating. Letting the engine wind down dramatically improves brake performance and wear by using engine compression to help slow the vehicle. Iím not talking about engine braking, Iím talking about coasting/slowing with a gear engaged; not in neutral.

As far as engine braking goes, I would not recommend downshifting specifically for the purpose of slowing the car, only to keep the revs in the appropriate range so that if you need acceleration quickly you wonít be caught short. On that subject, variocam kicks in at 4200 revs (which is one reason they want you to stay below this range during break-in) and peak torque/power is produced between 4200-6000+. But this is not to suggest you need to keep the Boxster in this range to drive effectively. I personally downshift between 2000-2500 revs. I also donít consider engine-braking to be running it in 3rd gear down a hill to stay at about 55, Iíd consider that winding down, but just to be clear, if I was doing 75 down that hill in 5th gear and put it into 3rd without applying the brakes and matching revs, I would consider that engine braking.

Take the time to come to a full stop when going R -1 or 1 - R. Iíve been known to visibly wince when I see someone doing this. You're dealing with the two strongest gears and switching while rolling between the two just equals BAD. Itís a clutch, not a momentum-reverser.

Don't shift mid-turn. You're momentarily taking the drive component away when your car most needs it. I kick myself a lot on this one, instead of shifting down to second or third before a turn, I do it in the middleÖnot exactly powering through. This ties into heel-toe shifting and while I'm not personally concerned with classic heel-toe maneuvering I certainly would agree that blipping the throttle makes down-shifts smoother (classic heel-toe and blipping the throttle on a downshift are not to be confused as the same thing).

I noticed the adverse affects of the clutch-move into first instead of move towards first - clutch in the 987 5 speed when I would get jammed/locked out of first. This was just laziness on my part, and you can get away with doing this in a lot of cars but the 987 no-likee. Reducing the shifter travel when the clutch is disengaged will also improve your pull-away time, unless youíre one of those people who sits at the red light with the clutch in and the shifter in first, which is 2 Fast 2 Furious and 2 Long.

The above being said, I think the biggest culprit to poor clutch/transmission life is general technique. It amazes me that people can go their whole lives and be crappy shifters. But when you think how people are taught itís basically like this:

The teacher tells them to put the clutch in, then let the clutch out while pushing down the gasÖusually the teacher then puts his hands together palms down and starts waving them to simulate the pedal timing required to engage the pressure plate to the clutch disc. Not a lot to go on reallyÖIMHO I think there's more to it then that if you want to shift with consistency and maximize your performance.
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Last edited by SD987; 08-25-2005 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 08-25-2005, 05:03 PM   #5
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That was some of the best advice I've ever seen on shifting. Awesome post SD987!

My 2 personal favorites:
Quote:
Originally Posted by SD987
Take the time to come to a full stop when going R -1 or 1 - R. Iíve been known to visibly wince when I see someone doing this. You're dealing with the two strongest gears and switching while rolling between the two just equals BAD. Itís a clutch, not a momentum-reverser.
I get chills when I see this. Don't do it in your automatic either if you want your tranny to last any time at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SD987
Don't shift mid-turn. You're momentarily taking the drive component away when your car most needs it. I kick myself a lot on this one, instead of shifting down to second or third before a turn, I do it in the middleÖnot exactly powering through.
It can be dangerous in some cases. If you're going too fast and start to slip, you have no gear to help you get back in control.

One thing not mentioned that I see a lot is shifting up too early to "baby" the car. You should never shift to the next gear if you will be below 2K rpm after shifting. The owner's manual says 1500, but I personally like 2K so if you miss a little you're still above the 1500. Accelerating at low RPMs puts a huge amount of stress on the drive shaft and the engine. I read a tech question in Panorama one time from someone who would never take the Boxster above 3K rpm to help it last. They're probably killing their drive shaft and engine by stressing it soooo hard.

The best advice I think I could come up with is drive it like it's a, oh I don't know, PORSCHE!
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Old 08-25-2005, 08:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD987
I notice a surprising number of stick drivers who don't let the engine wind down and push in the clutch as soon, or too early as they start braking/decelerating. Letting the engine wind down dramatically improves brake performance and wear by using engine compression to help slow the vehicle. Iím not talking about engine braking, Iím talking about coasting/slowing with a gear engaged; not in neutral.
Ah yeah, this is important--a lot of people coast around in neutral without realizing that this is dangerous. You can't get out of the way of someone if you're in neutral!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SD987
The above being said, I think the biggest culprit to poor clutch/transmission life is general technique. It amazes me that people can go their whole lives and be crappy shifters...you want to shift with consistency and maximize your performance.
This is key, really. You can't heel-toe, rev-match, or any of that effectively if you aren't consistent with it. I know a lot of guys that drive around like hotshots but half of the time, they screw up their shifts... No good.
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Old 08-26-2005, 05:40 AM   #7
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I am very interested in this topic but I can't follow all the terminology used. Can someone translate for me into english ?

What does slip the clutch mean exactly? Is that the same as feather the clutch?

And can someone clarify this statement? Clutch-move into 1st and move towards first. Is he trying to say something about shifting up into 1st and down into 1st? What is reduce shifter travel when clutch is disengaged mean? Is he just saying when the clutch is pressed in don't move the stick between gears alot?

Any wisdom on sitting at a stoplight on a slope with cars jammed in behind you and trying to avoid the car from rolling back?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 08-26-2005, 06:07 AM   #8
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I need a little translation too.
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Old 08-26-2005, 06:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eslai
Ah yeah, this is important--a lot of people coast around in neutral without realizing that this is dangerous. You can't get out of the way of someone if you're in neutral!
In GA, it's illegal to do this because of the reason you stated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eslai
This is key, really. You can't heel-toe, rev-match, or any of that effectively if you aren't consistent with it. I know a lot of guys that drive around like hotshots but half of the time, they screw up their shifts... No good.
Sooooo true. I don't know how to "heel-toe" but with the rev-match my wife was not a happy camper as I figured out the revs. Lots of feeling and listening to do, but you can't change driving style when you have a passenger. You'll never get it right that way.
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Old 08-26-2005, 07:17 AM   #10
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shifting

an informative site -

http://www.waycoolinc.com/z3/essentials/fixit/heeltoe/shifting.htm

the hard part is finding a place to practice. a deserted stretch of road is good. the track is challenging because there's a lot of other things going on.

at a track, you can hear the good shifters by the smooth transition from one frquency to another, and by the lack of "jump" in the car during downshifts. easy to explain, easy to understand, hard to master.
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Old 08-26-2005, 07:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rail26
I need a little translation too.
Another confession. I've never owned this much car.

I "think" I know how to drive a stick, but I'm sure the Boxster is beyond my knowledge set.

IOW, I wouldn't mind so much making mistakes and beating on a Miata -- and as Rail26 thinks, I should want to beat on a Solstace -- but for a Porsche, I want to give the car the respect it deserves.

I'm not even starting to talk about racing or tracking the car. I need to improve my on-street driving skills so that eventually I can maximize the machine's potential, and at first, do no harm.

At least, if later I may break some of the rules for handling a Boxster, at least I should know what the rules are and how badly I'm breaking them.

With that windup -- does anyone know a good Porsche driving instructor in Orange County or nearby?
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Old 08-26-2005, 08:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 986President
...
Any wisdom on sitting at a stoplight on a slope with cars jammed in behind you and trying to avoid the car from rolling back?

Thanks in advance.
Do the same thing as Europeans, use the handbrake/e-brake:
Stop the car, put on the handbrake before shifting into neutral
When preparing to start, push the clutch in, move the stick to 1st, then use gas and clutch to find the biting point, before taking off the handbrake to move smoothly away. This is actually a compulsory part of the British driving test.
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Old 08-26-2005, 10:38 AM   #13
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I have been holding the car in place on a slope by finding the "biting point" or letting the clutch out just enough to hold the car on the incline. I did not know to use the parking break or hand break. I assume that by using the hand break you are taking some stress off the clutch.
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Old 08-26-2005, 10:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 986President
I have been holding the car in place on a slope by finding the "biting point" or letting the clutch out just enough to hold the car on the incline. I did not know to use the parking break or hand break. I assume that by using the hand break you are taking some stress off the clutch.
Yes, it keeps the clutch from overheating and wearing: I've had clutches last way past 100,000 miles by being careful with them like this, whereas my brother does things differently and has trashed 3 clutches in the last 3 years...
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Old 08-26-2005, 10:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 986President
I am very interested in this topic but I can't follow all the terminology used. Can someone translate for me into english ?

What does slip the clutch mean exactly? Is that the same as feather the clutch?

And can someone clarify this statement? Clutch-move into 1st and move towards first. Is he trying to say something about shifting up into 1st and down into 1st? What is reduce shifter travel when clutch is disengaged mean? Is he just saying when the clutch is pressed in don't move the stick between gears alot?

Any wisdom on sitting at a stoplight on a slope with cars jammed in behind you and trying to avoid the car from rolling back?

Thanks in advance.
Slipping the clutch = feathering the clutch. Both are bad.

I'm not entirely sure what he meant by that paragraph about clutch-move into 1st instead of move towards first clutch bit too. But the basic gist of it I think was that he wants to minimize shifter movement when the clutch is disengaged (meaning you've got the clutch pedal down).

I'm not sure that that's what SD987 means though because that could be misconstrued in a lot of ways so probably should wait for clarification.

One thing that he said there that I understood was that you shouldn't ride the clutch pedal. You should only have the clutch pedal in when you are shifting. Get off the pedal as soon as you can.

Keep your hand off the shifter too. Your hands should be on the steering wheel--you touch the shifter when you are shifting, that is all. Don't rest your hand on it either--that can be bad for the shift forks, among other things.

As for sitting on a slope, well, put it in neutral. When it's time to go, put it in first, then be really good with the engagement point. A lot of people that are new to manual cars will use the parking brake to aid in this task. when I was learning though I just found that to be "too many things going on at once"--always confused me to use the parking brake.
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Old 08-26-2005, 10:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 986President
I have been holding the car in place on a slope by finding the "biting point" or letting the clutch out just enough to hold the car on the incline. I did not know to use the parking break or hand break. I assume that by using the hand break you are taking some stress off the clutch.
Oh yeah, that's the surefire way to need a $700 clutch job within a year. Don't do it, you're burning up your clutch!
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Old 08-26-2005, 11:07 AM   #17
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Limoncello, thanks for that link, interesting reading.

I don't claim to be 'Joe-driver', and just like anyone else, my tendencies come from how I was originally taught and personal experience driving manual cars from day one. That being said, I've found the following tips to be helpful in improving performance.

In my experience the timing of the pedal movement is actually secondary to making the correct movements. What do I mean? How hard can it be to press three pedals?

Well itís like a golf swing, if the same basic movements are done with the wrong muscle groups instead of the right ones, itís pretty hard to hit a perfect shot, no matter how you time it. The first thing I would recommend is to actually stick your head in the footwell (preferably when no one else is around) and see how the pedals are configured; look behind the gas pedal. Automotive engineers are pretty smart people and they don't place the pedals in a car without one, consideration for human physiology and two, the time honored art of performance driving.

A. For a human to exert maximum force with their feet, involves the leg muscles motivating first the heel muscles which serve to align the primary muscle group below the arch for optimal application. Lastly the muscles toward the front of the foot below the toes fully extend to apply smaller but more precise amounts of force. When releasing that force, the heel actually starts first, down and slightly forward to serve as a pivot point of reference for the rest of the foot.

B. The brake and gas are located close to each other, obviously because the same foot controls them, but also to perform classic heel-toe shifting, in which the right foot operates both pedals simultaneously.

How does A + B translate into action?

1. The gas pedal is meant to be operated with the right half of the right foot (think of using the outside foot muscles) and pressed down and up to the right (northeasterly), oddly enough, the same direction that the pedal is pointing. If youíre someone who pushes the gas pedal straight down, with the inner/stronger foot muscles (the natural tendency), youíre going to tend to lug the engine and have difficulty. The ability to modulate the throttle response pushing as I suggest, versus straight down is night and day and essential if you were to actually give heel-toe shifting a shot.

2. Brake pedals are meant to be pushed down with the inner leg muscles and left top side of the right foot. The brake response between doing this and just jamming on the brake with your whole foot isnít remarkable, but using that part of the foot improves switching speed between brake and gas which is key. Initial alignment of the right foot at rest should be to the brake pedal.

3. The clutch pedal is also engaged by pushing down and forward with the inner part of the left foot to maximum extension (of the arch), and is released by initiating with the heel as I mentioned above. Many drivers donít fully extend their arch (and thus the pedal) when putting the clutch in, which is helpful to smooth shifting. The combination of the heel initiated release and relaxation of the arch muscles from full extension is engineered into the ďtake-upĒ built into the clutch pedal, i.e. the amount of required release during which little noticeable happens before the point of engagement when your primary muscle group and toes come into play. I think alot of drivers initially control the release of the clutch from the front/toe area creating labored starts, e.g. riding the clutch. Without employing the heel area as a reference point, your left foot is a ship without a rudder. These folks not surprisingly find that they shift smoother when they donít push the clutch all the way in, just until they are below the engagement point (the clutch slip area). Because they canít get the timing of the take-up right, they skip the whole take-up step but are reducing clutch life. Using the clutch slip area to hold yourself on a hill is even worse...

Move purposefully and with confidence. Tentative movements while driving are like decelerating your putterÖHowever, donít make your feet stiff as a board, otherwise youíre running counter to everything I suggested above. A bad tendency people have is to delay the gas. As soon as that gear clicks into place, apply gas. Even during what seems like a momentary delay your car is actually foundering (has no drive to the wheels) and is slowing down. People have too much pause in all gears, but mostly they seem to do this in first gear, which is the natural tendency after years of tentatively pulling out of first for fear of stalling out.

When using the shifter in the Box use your wrist muscles more than your fingers. The wrist muscles are stronger and the Porsche shifter is heavy, but more importantly the wrist muscles have a limited range of movement which also match the movements built into the shifter. If you wiggle your fingers, they can go all over the place but this is an instance where flexibility is less desirable than strength and muscle-matched engineering.

To be in optimal position for manual driving I would do a couple of things.

Unless your arms and legs are proportioned like a baboon I suggest you push yourself back a little. Most drivers I see are too close to the wheel and pedals. Move back to a point where with your arms extended, the top of the wrist joint overhangs the steering wheel; and your legs (with the clutch pedal pushed fully in) are extended but to a point well before your knees lock. Your knees should be slightly bowed out but not touching the center console (right knee). This will put you in that maximum force position when the clutch pedal is fully depressed and facilitate using the outside/right portion of the right foot when applying gas. People who sit too close are also putting themselves in real danger if the air bag is activated. Manufacturers recommend a minimum of 10 inches from the air bag.

Some readers of this post may say..."no kidding" to most of these or think Iím full of crap. Thatís OK, and I'd welcome other points of view or disagreement, but maybe something we add in this thread will make someone shift smoother, launch faster and have more clutch life.
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Old 08-26-2005, 11:16 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD987
Some readers of this post may say..."no kidding" to most of these or think Iím full of crap. Thatís OK, and I'd welcome other points of view or disagreement, but maybe something we add in this thread will make someone shift smoother, launch faster and have more clutch life.
Oh I don't think so--I think there's a lot of guys here that have expressed interest in learning, your post is well-received!
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Old 08-26-2005, 11:37 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 986President
I have been holding the car in place on a slope by finding the "biting point" or letting the clutch out just enough to hold the car on the incline. I did not know to use the parking break or hand break. I assume that by using the hand break you are taking some stress off the clutch.
I'm not sure if you're talking about doing that when starting to go or while sitting on an incline. Doing that while sitting at a light will wear the clutch disc out really quick. It also stresses the engine, drive shaft and flywheel.

IMHO it's best to learn to get it quick so you don't have to use the brake. If you can't, using the parking brake is the next best thing.
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Old 08-26-2005, 12:03 PM   #20
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I appreciate even what seems to many as basic advice. I learned to drive a stick 18 years ago on a VW Golf and never drove another until I got this car so I am trying to iron out bad habbits.

I am getting better at quick starts on an incline but if you are in traffic on an incline you are constantly doing quick starts and stopping after only a few feet. It seemed easier to just ease the clutch in and out to control speed and keep from rolling backwards but it sounds like I am putting undue wear on my clutch. Thanks to all for your advice.


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