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In which the brilliant Nick Jenkins (director of Sexplanations and many other amazing shows) teaches you how to drive a manual transmission (AKA how to drive a stick shift)!

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Directed, Edited, Hosted, and Written by:
Nicholas Jenkins

Additional Filming by:
Michael Aranda

Created by:
Emma Mills & Mike Martin
Mike is also a Young Adult novelist. His book, THE END GAMES, is available at all online booksellers, including
Indiebound ( ) and Amazon: (

Executive Producers:
Hank & John Green
Well, hello there.  I'm sure some of you have noticed that I am not Mike or Emma, that's because I'm Nick.  I work on a couple of different shows that are sort of kind of affiliated with How To Adult.

And the reason that I'm here is because Mike and I talked about the idea of doing a "How to Adult" video about driving a manual transmission.  So let's get this party started by asking "What is a transmission"?  Let me explain.  No, there is too much, let me sum up.

A transmission is basically a thing that transmits energy from the engine to the wheels of the car.  And you're gonna need multiple gears to do that, you can't just have one gear you're gonna need the low gears for getting the car moving and the higher gears for cruising.  

And all of this stuff we're talking about here is what we call sequential so it's going to go from gear one to two to three to four to five to six and if you're into some super cars seven and eight.

And all of that is laid out right here on the gear shift.  This is what is called an H Pattern.  Why?  Well because it makes an H-if you look at it right.

Different models of cars have different setups, like reverse may be all the way over and next to first on some cars, or all the way past fifth and up or something like that.  Sometimes you actually have to lift the gear shift up a little bit on some newer models, but basically this is the same idea in every car you'll get in.

Now accompanied with the gear shift lever you're going to need to find some other things on the car. 

First is your speedometer.  This measures how fast you're going through miles per hour or kilometers per hour.

Next is the tachometer.  Now this is going to measure how much work your engine is doing basically in what we call RPMs or Revolutions Per Minute.  And then of course you are going to need to locate your pedals. So you'll have the gas pedal, the brake pedal,  and the clutch pedal.  Once you've located all of these things you'll need to find a place to actually practice.  And believe me, a big part of practicing this is location, location, location.

In the case of learning how to drive a manual transmission I can not make any bigger recommendation than somewhere flat.   You don't want an uphill or downhill slope to be learning on because it makes working with a manual transmission a lot more difficult.  The reason for this is when you push down on the clutch what will happen is the car will start to free roll in whatever direction it's facing so you want somewhere flat like this road that I came to.

The other thing is you want someplace far away from other people.  It's not that it's going to be that dangerous, although it can be, but it's going to be just more courteous for you to be away from people while you're learning how to do this.

Finally, you're in the car, you've found your location , the last thing you need to do is turn your radio off.  The car and the transmission and the exhaust, everything is going to be making noise and you want to hear that because you want to know what things sounds like as you get closer to shifting. 

So starting here at ground zero, the car is off, the radio is off,
the seat belt is on, and we're ready to get going.

One: Take your right foot and push the brake down. 

Two: Take your left foot and push the clutch all the way to the floor.

Three: Release the emergency brake.

Four:Make sure the gear shift is in neutral; meaning it's not in any gear. I always like to shake the stick to make sure it's not in gear. 

Start the car.

Now, you want to leave your foot on the brake as long as you're not wanting to go anywhere. But if the car's in neutral, meaning it's not in any gear, you can lift off of the clutch and nothing is going to happen.

What we need to do is actually engage the clutch as we're giving the car gas. The reason for this is that you need to give the car enough gas to be able to spin the wheels. But you don't want to give it too much gas to go Smokey and the Bandit all over the place. 

And you might be sitting in the car and thinking "OH WHAT IF I KILL IT! WHAT IF I KILL IT! WHAT IF I KILL IT!"

Kill it, you mean like... that?

It happens all the time. Even the best drivers kill the car occasionally. So don't worry about that. Remember to have a sense of humor and laugh at yourself a lot because it just makes life a lot easier if you can do that.

Go ahead and take your foot off the brake. Again, we're on a flat surface, so you're not gonna roll anywhere. But take your foot off the brake and just slowly start releasing the clutch. Really really just minute by minute until you start to feel it actually engaging and starting to pull the car.

Now, if you go too far you will kill it- and that's okay. But what you want to do at this point is start giving the car gas and you're gonna have to figure out how much gas you need to give the car to generate enough torque to turn the wheels.

It's kinda like a video game- learning these two pedals and seeing how they relate to each other. So the more gas you give it the less clutch you need and all of this stuff. And, like any video game, you're going to need to do it for a while before you really get the hang of it. 
So, just practice it a lot. Just taking off, through first, and the slow down and stop. Which brings us to another point. What happens when you stop? Now if you just hit the brake you're gonna kill the car. So what you need to do when you know you're coming to a full and complete stop is put in the clutch and break all the way and then stop.
Pull it out of gear, put it back into first and go. 

Once you've gotten the hang of that, the next thing you need to do is how to go from first to second, from second to third, third to fourth and so on all the way up. Every car is going to be a little bit different for what it needs.

A general rule of thumb is that you probably want to shift at about 3,000 RPM. So if you're reading your tachometer as you're going you probably wanna shift at 3,000.

Now this is for little city driving, this isn't for like performance of racing or anything like that, which is a whole different can of worms. 

So on a very basic level at lower speeds you're gonna wanna be at lower gears. For higher speeds you're gonna be at higher gears. When you're on the free way doing 65 or 70 mph you're gonna probably be on the highest gear your car has. In the case of this Mustang that gear is five. In the case of my Camaro it's six. In the case of a Corvette it's seven. In the case of, I believe, a Lamborghini it's eight. 

Those higher gears allow you to go on at higher speeds without making the engine do so much work. So that saves you gasoline, and it saves wear-and-tear on your engine. The most important thing here, when you're learning to drive a manual transmission, is to relax. 

Just don't worry about killing the car, okay? Be safe, stay away from other people when you're learning, and then as soon as you've got the hang of it go into traffic and figure it out. It's the same as any other car- you have to break when everybody else breaks, you have to go when everybody else goes, you need to signal when you're turning- all what good stuff.

So I hope that this was helpful in some way and remember that this is a very basic introduction to the idea. Give it a try. If you don't like it then don't get a manual transmission but you should at least give yourself the opportunity to try these things. 

I really want to thank Mike and Emma for letting me do this and, uh, share this with you guys. And let me know in the comments!

What was your worst driving experience? And why are you afraid of driving a manual transmission?

Or do you have any good tips and tricks for anybody else that's trying to learn? 

So thanks a lot for having me on! Stay curious. And catchphrase.