Most modern manual geared cars come in either a 5 or 6 speed “H” configuration. There are 4 and 7 speed models, but these are rare.

The “H” refers to a time when there were 4 gears and a reverse.

Reverse position can vary to any of 4 positions and that depends on what brand you’re driving. As for the rest of the gears, in a 5 or 6 speed manual, the gear stick is sprung so if released in neutral it will be in the 3rd/4th gear position. Up is 3rd and down is 4th. Push gently to the left and up is 1st, and down is 2nd. Pull gently to the right and up is 5th and down is 6th.

See video and picture for “shift patterns”.

See more manual car videos HERE

Before you start the car:

  • Make sure the parking brake is on (pull the handle up, or operate the button in electric brake models)
  • Always put your foot on the brake (middle peddle) and clutch (left peddle and keep them pressed).
  • You might wish to select neutral which is the slot that moves left and right then release the clutch.

Start car.

  • Press clutch in, move selector left and up to 1st. Select “R” if you want to reverse.
  • Gently release clutch until you feel the car try to move.
  • You can then move your foot from the brake to the righthand peddle (accelerator). BE GENTLE and slow.

Once you’re moving

  • Drive by ear, and listen to your engine. Never let the revs get too high or too low.
  • When revs got to between 1,500rpm and 2,500 rpm, press the clutch and move the gear lever down while pushing left to 2nd. Release clutch gently while pressing accelerator again.
  • Press clutch again at 1,500rpm and move selector to neutral. Springs pull it to the centre slots. Then move selector up to 3rd.
  • Repeat these processes until you get used to the clutch brake and accelerator.

Practice, practice, practice.

Top Tips

Take it slow and easy until you become comfortable. Start slow and be SMOOTH.

If you panic and want to stop, be gentle. Press both the clutch AND brake.

Start on a flat surface until you get used to changing gears.

Relax, driving a manual is a skill anyone can master.

Practice makes perfect.

Try a large vacant field or carpark where there are no obstructions or pedestrians if you’re worried or nervous.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Use the parking brake on hills if your car doesn’t have Hill Start Assist. Release it as you feel the car start to move (while releasing the clutch and pressing the accelerator).

If all else fails, get an Uber.