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How to Drive a Stickshift Truck


Familiarize yourself with the truck. Adjust the seat so you can comfortably reach the clutch and gas pedals. Take note of the gear shift, likely located to your right, though possibly located on the steering wheel column. You'll see the numbers 1 through 4 or 5, and an R for reverse. These will help you accelerate the vehicle.


Look at the dashboard and locate the dial that is labeled RPMs. This will be your guide for when to shift the truck up to a higher gear.


Place your left foot firmly on the clutch and your right foot on the break. With the clutch engaged, grasp the gear shift in your right hand, pull it toward you until it won't go any further and push it upward. You are now in first gear. Or, if you need to reverse, push the gearshift over to the right and down to engage reverse.


Turn the engine on and check to make sure that it is safe to accelerate. Slowly, but deliberately disengage your clutch by releasing the pressure from your left foot. At the same time, gently press on the gas pedal. If you stall the truck, simply put the car back into first or reverse, push back down on the clutch, place your foot back on the break and start over again. Eventually you'll get the knack of where the clutch will engage and how much pressure to give.


Accelerate, keeping an eye on the road, but also glancing down at your RPM dial. Shift up to the next gear when your RPMs are a little over 2,000. Avoid letting the needle reach into the 3,000 RPM range or anywhere within the red warning strip as this causes wear and potential issues for your engine.


Continue shifting upward, pressing in the clutch and adjusting the gearshift when necessary, and as is safe for the road you are traveling. When you need to slow down, simply engage the clutch and move backward through the gears. To start again, begin with the first gear.

Tips and Warnings

  • Teach yourself to drive a stick shift truck in a parking lot or other large, vacated area before taking to the road.
  • Avoid downshifting from second to first while you're moving. Instead, if you're coming to a stop, downshift to second and then put the gear in neutral while breaking.
  • Only start in first gear when you are accelerating from a complete stop. Otherwise, begin in second gear.
  • If you aren't using the clutch, do not drive with it engaged. This will cause premature wear on your clutch.

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