View Full Version : Learning to drive a manual transmission car--still worthwhile?

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07-14-2011, 01:48 AM
My husband and I both think that our teenagers should learn how to drive a stick shift. Our reasoning is that there are times when it comes in handy even if you don't own a stick shift yourself, it's not something you can learn to do on the spot, and if they ever travel internationally, they will probably need to know how.

Hardly any of the parents of teenagers we know agree. They figure most cars in the US are automatics, so why bother? And they might have a point, because we have been looking for a fairly new but used (non-sports-car) stick shift for the kids and are having a hard time finding them. We recently talked to a guy who was a dealer until a couple of months ago and he said that not only are used cars are in short supply because no one is upgrading right now, but hardly anyone wants a stick shift any more and there just aren't a lot of them out there.

So are we thinking in terms of our own teen years or is knowing how to drive a car with a manual transmission still a viable skill in the US?

07-14-2011, 01:51 AM
I know how to drive stick. I don't use the skill very often, but when it comes in handy it REALLY comes in handy.

07-14-2011, 01:52 AM
I don't know if I would insist on buying a stick shift, but I think it's worth it to know how to drive one. I've been in situations where I was in a rush and there was no automatic - it would have been quite handy to be able to drive stick shift.

07-14-2011, 01:55 AM
It all depends on many things, like lifestyle, car choice, cost, physical....
I learned stick as a teenager, and every car I have owned, bought brand new, I chose stick. Mostly since I was buying coupes/sporty cars(not a sport car) and stick was less expensive than automatic (depending on the car, $800 and up to $1,200 for my Mini).
Once you learn, you know it. Also I like to travel in Europe and it is easier/cheaper to rent a stick car.
It is all preference. I like to drive small cars. Bigger cars in the US - seem to be all automatic. But also where you live. When I owned a Mini, something like 80-90% of the Minis sold in the US were stick, but in NYC, it was 80-90 automatic. So also consider where you live.
Nothing wrong with teaching them. Over the years, I have taught a bunch of friends, since I had the stick car. But also when I broker my ankle, my brother and I switched cars for over 2 months. I was lucky I had someone that we trusted each other with our cars (I was actually more worried about the interior and if he would let his little kids eat my car).

07-14-2011, 01:55 AM
I was in Turkey two months ago and really wished I knew how to drive a manual transmission car; I wanted to rent a car while over there, but all they had were stick-shifts. I think it's a handy skill to have even if your kids never go to Europe. You just never know when it might come in handy.

I found a school close to where I live that offer manual transmission lessons. I think I'll take some lessons from them this summer.

Also, aren't manual transmission auto usually cheaper to buy than automatic?

07-14-2011, 01:57 AM
How do you plan on teaching them? My moms ex taught me to drive a stick shift for the same reasons. However, I've never owned a manual and haven't driven one again since that day. I think the whole thing was pointless. I suppose I would be better off than someone who has absolutely NO clue what a clutch is but I would still be stalling out all the time. :lol:

07-14-2011, 01:59 AM
I learned in my early twenties. Definitely useful, and not that hard to learn at all. However, it's been more than ten years since I've gotten behind the wheel of a stick shift, so I'm not sure if I would feel as comfortable now. Especially when you have to stop on an incline for a traffic light--it's a little intimidating!

07-14-2011, 02:01 AM
Also, aren't manual transmission auto usually cheaper to buy than automatic?

For sporty/small cars in the US - yes. But I think in the US if you wanted a big sedan with stick, it may not be available. Not sure for other countries.

07-14-2011, 02:02 AM
My brother taught me, I taught my nieces and my DH. We both taught our oldest daughter.
Travel is a good point - I visited family in Germany and they let me take their Audi on the Autobahn. Yep, it was a stick shift.
We always had manual transmission cars up until three years ago, when we both got great deals on automatics.

You should not only teach them to drive stick, you should encourage them to make their first car a stick shift. They'll be less likely (well, able) to loan the car to someone else since none of their friends can drive stick. My BIL sells used cars part-time and he says dealers will negotiate to sell a stick because they know they have fewer prospective buyers for it. Recently, we put that theory to the test and it was very true. The dealer called us for days after we first said no, offering better and better deals.

It's very handy for teens if a buddy is too drunk to drive home, but owns a manual-transmission car. Better for a sober friend to take the wheel with some experience. We told our daughter to ask if she could "practice her shifting" to convince the owner to give up the keys, or to call us. (I would have preferred the latter, but she used the former.)

Only obstacle to owning a stick shift is that most student drivers do better on the driving test with an automatic car. We had to borrow cars for the driving tests.

Oh, and making the engine scream with hard shifts. But it feels soooo good to make the tires squeal now and then. I miss my little Subaru.

07-14-2011, 02:02 AM
I don't know how much it matters in the US but I think it's a good thing to learn. It really doesn't take that long for a new driver to get the hang of it. That might be self serving, though. I have a manual and there have been times when I'm out with a friend and seldom do they know how to drive a standard so I get stuck with all the driving. :drama:

07-14-2011, 02:10 AM
If you can find a vehicle, it's a valuable skill. I learned when I bought a 5-speed. A friend took me out in the country, let me drive for an hour then left me on my own. I did the same to my sister when she bought a VW. You just never know what skills you will need. My SIL has learned to drive an 18 wheeler.

07-14-2011, 02:13 AM
I wish I had learned. I only did it once, with a friend's truck when I helped he and his wife move. I am seriously thinking of getting a manual if I ever get another car.

07-14-2011, 02:13 AM
If we can find a stick shift that suits us, that will be their car to drive until one of them buys it from us or they move out and buy their own. My husband is holding out for lots of airbags and safety features, which means it has to be a fairly late model car.

They can take their driver's tests in my car, which is an automatic.

We both know how to drive stick shifts, so teaching them won't be a problem. I drove stick shifts from the time I started driving until I was expecting my second child and decided I didn't want to deal with one more thing in the car :P. I think you pay a lot more attention to driving when you drive a stick shift; that's another reason I kind of think teenagers should learn how.

I'm actually kind of hoping I get to drive their car a lot :shuffle:. Driving a stick is fun.

07-14-2011, 02:17 AM
Yes, teach them. It's a good thing to know. Besides, the cheaper, smaller economy cars will always have manuals as the standard tranny. They are easier on gas too.

It's the right hand/left leg coordination for me. I am a lefty. And knowing when to ease up on the clutch.

07-14-2011, 02:18 AM
I think it's worthwhile just because it's so fun :)

It is also a good skill to have if you ever plan on traveling internationally. My friend just got back from a trip where he drove in Barcelona and up the coast, and it was much cheaper to rent a stick.