Advice wanted from experienced drivers: smooth start from first gear

Discussion in 'Fiesta ST Chat and Discussion' started by FiST_To_The_Clutch, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. Hello all,

    I'm a total noob when it comes driving manual. Been driving it a little bit on and off back in like 2004-2008 whenever my parents visited my grandparents and there's a stretch of the road for about 20 miles. But it was diesel (first gen Jetta, then Passat B3). So FiST is my first manual car ever sort to speak.

    I did quite a few "stallings" since I purchased it last week (mainly from traffic light uphill, usually I get lucky exiting freeway and pass it while the light is green). And quite often the start from the first gear is not smooth at all: the car jerks and shakes. What I have been able to deduce as problem is the clutch pedal engagement point is so high that I find myself lifting the heel of my foot off the floor. And that's why letting off the clutch happens a little bit quicker compare to when my heel is on the floor, there's a lot less "smoothness control".

    My coworker suggested adding a little gas first before I let off the clutch. It works and my starts have been a loooooot more smoother. I'm just worried whether I burn the clutch a bit by adding gas first and slowly releasing the clutch pedal, is it a bad move to start the car this way or not?

    The main question is: is my sitting position set incorrectly and that's why I happen to life my foot off the floor when the clutch engages? Or is it normal and I just need some time to get used to it? Welcome any advice, critique, and shaming too.

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  3. Smokin

    Smokin Active Member

    Yes you need to add throttle as you lift the clutch pedal. And taking you're left heel off the floor will prevent you from riding the clutch which is much more damaging than slipping at the start. practice practice practice........
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  4. yogerdt

    yogerdt New Member

    My first car was a 93' Honda accord so to learn how to drive stick I went to parking lot and just practiced. Granted my Honda back then is a little different than my FiST now but it's just getting used to the clutch. Practice from dead stops. Take off, go a little bit, stop, and do it all over again. Adding a little gas before is a good start and shouldn't hurt your clutch unless you are really riding it. In my FiST I don't need to pic my foot up, it's all heel toe action. An option would to look at that so it's a smoother stroke of the clutch and than after some practice you will be used to releasing the clutch and applying gas at the same time. It just becomes natural with practice.
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  5. Ca5p3r

    Ca5p3r Member

    If you aren't holding the clutch at the engagement point with the engine at 3000 or 5000 or 6500 rpm, then you won't need to worry too much about burning the clutch. You'll know when you are; it smells like burning sulfur.

    Like others have said, try some more gas. What I tell my friends when teaching them, you'll need to learn and get used to the vehicle. Slow on the clutch and a little gas. If you have any doubts, then go slower on the clutch. You can try to hold the gas steady at x rpm, such as 1500 or 2000 rpm, as you let the clutch pedal out. You could also move onto letting the clutch out a little faster. This can help you get familiar with the car and with starting to move faster from the start. Also, once you are moving 5 or so mph, you can let the clutch pedal go all the way at that point.

    Key is lots of practice. Whenever you are in doubt, slower clutch movement.
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  6. Zormecteon

    Zormecteon Active Member

    Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers from NPR recommend, when teaching someone to use a clutch.... to have them make the car go from a stop using NO GAS PEDAL. .. that is get on flat ground, like in the middle of a big empty parking lot. Stop the car. Make it go, without pushing the gas pedal. When you can do that, do it again. and and again. The idea is to learn the feel of the clutch. Each car is different as to how fast it engages and the height at which it does so. .. As far as leaving your heel on the floor.. DON'T. Use your whole leg, not just your ankle, and keep your foot completely off the pedal EXCEPT when actually shifting. Your throw out bearing will be much happier.
    Smokin, DayJ and FiST_To_The_Clutch like this.
  7. Ca5p3r

    Ca5p3r Member


    I got ahead of myself. If you don't have that down (what zormecteon said) then do that. Slow and precise clutch control. Then move into using a little gas. Good catch zormecteon.
  8. Thank you for replies!

    I got a lot better, and my start from 1st gear even uphill is very smooth and not jerky (except on steep hills I roll back sometimes 5-10 inches :p ) *knocking on wood three times!!!* But I did not expect that second gear has so much torque that I need to apply almost as much gas as I do for 1st and slowly release the clutch, otherwise the car jerks even if I very slowly let off the clutch. So my shift from 1st to 2nd takes a while for now, but then again more practice needed...

    Off to another drive! ^_^
    Smokin likes this.
  9. OrangeFist

    OrangeFist Member

    My method for starting from 1st is blipping the gas a bit, then the even/out thing. I think the grabbing starts at the soft spot before the clutch needs more effort to put down. A 1-2 shift is tricky because you should leave a fraction of a fraction of pedal before letting the clutch all the way up. When I'm lazy, I just let jerk into place (within limits). Passengers - get over it!
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  10. SilFister

    SilFister Member

    The advice from all above is good; after a short while you'll just get the feel of it. My first stick was in the 90s; my strategy was to learn/practice on a friend's stick before messing around with (and potentially messing up) my new manual. Once I got the hang of it, I then went and bought the new car. Just like investing using the OPM (other people's money) paradigm, I utilized the OPT (other people's transmission) methodology.
  11. Thanks!

    Maybe I should have practiced more with a used car first, but looks like the dealer wasn't lying (or maybe it's just me): in a week, like they promised, I was doing a tons times better. Right now it's just that selecting first and second gear from time to time (but not always) takes quite a bit of force, and it happened to me already twice where I stopped at the traffic light and then just couldn't pop the shifter into first gear (and once it wouldn't go into 2nd as well). The car was warmed up, the engine was warmed up (I've been driving for about 3-4 mins already until that happened), and usually on my way from garage for about half a mile I slowly drive in the first gear keeping revs at about 2000 to 2200 rpm just letting the oil move and heat up the transmission. Dealership said let it break in more, it hasn't done it fully yet, but it shouldn't be doing it to such a degree. But hey, 5 yrs or 60,000 miles warranty, and if it breaks they are gonna fix it for free, I don't care. So I just keep driving and breaking in everything :)
  12. Ca5p3r

    Ca5p3r Member

    In regards to the occasional sticking first gear shift, I recently found that a technique that I've been using on my motorcycle can help. So when you have the sticking first gear shift, keep constant pressure on the stick as if you still want it to go into first gear (dont force it in). Next begin to bring the clutch pedal up (in other words, being to release the clutch pedal). At about... Something like an inch or 2 of release, you should feel the shifter pop into first like it normally should. At this point, either depress the clutch pedal fully again and wait to go or start driving.
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  13. Neeqness

    Neeqness Member

    One other thing that I didn't see mentioned (especially as you get used to the clutch's "engagement point") is to reconsider the positioning of your seating. You may find that it is better to be closer or farther from the pedals than you thought for better comfort and control of the clutch through it's full motion. This includes up and down adjustments as well until you find your sweet spot.

    As a beginner, some trial and error in finding the optimum position for you may be necessary, but eventually you will find what works best for you and the shifting will come much easier and be much more comfortable overall afterwards.

    Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  14. Neeqness

    Neeqness Member

    Giving gas depends on the car and situation. Obviously if you heading uphill, you will need to give some gas to keep the car from stalling. Conversely if you are heading downhill, you may not need any gas at all and may even be able to start in second gear instead of first depending on the car and it's torque. If you ease the clutch in easy, you shouldn't burn it but doing it smoothly takes practice.

    It also matters how fast you wish to accelerate. But again this all takes practice. Main thing is to just go out and do it. I started with an old small Honda so if I damaged the clutch it wouldn't cost much to fix. I burned it a few times but I still never had to replace it. Clutches are made to last somewhat. Burning the clutch a few times won't kill it. It will take much more than that so just do your best to master it and not worry too much about it and you will likely learn it much quicker. The nice thing about driving stick is the control. The ability to either pop the clutch or coast into gear without using the gas at all (and all the inbetween). Just do it and enjoy the ride. Use a parking lot if necessary. Nothing wrong with that and it will build competence with confidence before you hit the road which is the main thing.

    Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk
  15. reddog99

    reddog99 Active Member

    ^^ THIS ^^
    This post reminded me of the reason I chose to not buy the Recaros. The front ledge of these seats is too high and makes it difficult for me to press in the clutch all the way. The OP should reflect on their seating position and be sure that they are able to depress the clutch pedal all the way to the floor without excess effort. Having trouble holding the clutch a a stoplight? It may be the seating position.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
    Smokin likes this.
  16. Thanks for replies!

    My sitting position is just fine, just yesterday I was in a traffic coming to San Jose, CA for about 1 hr, and basically had to hold the clutch for about 30-40 mins of the traffic with no tiring or any sort of leg fatigue/problems. I did not find front ledge to be too high at all, maybe because I have long legs with my ~ 6'-1" height :p

    I'm doing much-much better with my overall driving, even sort of "mastered" the downshifting, just need to work on smoother transition from 2nd to 1st :/
    Neeqness likes this.
  17. Zormecteon

    Zormecteon Active Member

    Don't bother to shift from 2nd to 1st. Only use first to get rolling from a stop. .... Well, 2nd to 1st if you're going less than 3 mph.AND in a traffic jam. 2nd gear will pull just fine from a near dead stop.
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  18. Neeqness

    Neeqness Member

    Thats great! Don't worry so much about that...downshifting from 2nd to 1st is usually not really necessary. You can use second for almost any situation as long as you are not sitting still (some have even used it for that). Only exception is probably if you are heading up a pretty steep hill...

    Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  19. Thanks!

    Just a quick question: I know FiST being turbo means that the engine will be much better off if I can keep rmps at or above 2,000 for all health and performance purposes. But what if say I had to slow down to 2nd gear and now my rpm is like 1,100, cars start moving and I need to accelerate again. I generally push lightly on the gas pedal until I reach about 2000 rpm then I give it a real push. Is that the right (or should I say good) way to do?
  20. Zormecteon

    Zormecteon Active Member

    The car will pull from a near dead stop in 2nd, BUT......

    I've watched the upshift light and experimented to determine that----- It will generally come on at around 1800 rpm, and when the shift is made to the next higher gear, the rpms in that gear will be at 1500. This tell me that Ford feels that anything under 1500 rpms is lugging the engine. Lugging is the most common cause of predetonation, (ping). Since these cars have electronic spark control, It is unlikely that even this will cause ping, but to be on the safe side, it is probably best to keep the rpms higher than 1500...... .. but again.. the car WILL pull from about 4 MPH in 2nd gear.
    FiST_To_The_Clutch likes this.
  21. Neeqness

    Neeqness Member

    The upshift light comes on based on your current driving style. If you drive aggressively it will delay coming on for more power. If you drive conservatively it will come on earlier for better economy.

    Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk

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