I had the good fortune to borrow a neighbor’s manual car. I ended up just driving it around the block, and asked her to run my errand, but I had a good time, and here’s my beginner clutch guide.

I was quite confused at first: with car in neutral, brake engaged, car doesn’t start when turning key. Huh??

Turns out you have to have the clutch all the way engaged to start the car. This makes sense, because once the car is started the clutch needs to be fully engaged, since you won’t be adding gas right off the bat.

The basics

Three pedals, left to right: clutch, brake, gas.

Clutch disconnects engine from wheels. As in automatic, brake stops the car and gas makes the engine rev faster.

Set yourself up

Start the car

First manual experience: fun!

It took me probably 5 times to start the car successfully, and during the first drive around the block I stalled out twice. No stress. This was my mantra of driving stick shift.

I had to start the car on a hill for my last ignition, and this was tricky as when I let go of the brake I started to roll backwards. Eventually I got the car to lurch forwards alright; I didn’t have the finesse to use the parking brake here but I’m sure there’s a way to use it to good effect.

Remember: you can always press clutch to stop car from stalling out, and you can always brake.