I still suck at driving a manual transmission

Cgiroux

Active member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
TDI
none
some of you may have remembered the thread I made maybe a couple weeks ago in which it turned out that I burnt the living sh*t out of my clutch.

While the car was in the dealer shop, I decided to take some lessons from a driving instructor for a couple of hours. We used a Honda Civic which to me seemed to be much more difficult to drive compared to my Golf TDI.

Anyway... I got the car back yesterday. Woke up early this morning and went for a little 2 hour practice session and I seem to be getting better. However, I still distinctly smell burning coming from the clutch when I got home so I just said enough for today, I can't do this anymore. Maybe I am giving it too much gas while the clutch isn't fully engaged. I try not to exceed 1500 RPM before completely releasing the clutch.

I have watched many, many YouTube videos on how to drive a stick and at this point, they aren't going to help me any further. I understand the fundamentals, but a video isn't going to provide any muscle memory.

Few things:

1). driving uphill is kind of a pain in the butt. I'm talking about a very slight incline. It seems like I need to rev the car up to 2,000 RPM going on a slight hill. Is that too much? On a flat, I try to have it at 1,500 before I let the clutch out.

2). It seems like I am always either releasing the clutch too slowly or too quickly and probably causing harm because of that reason. It seems difficult to find a medium, which brings me to #3.

I'm kind of a short guy at 5'6". It almost seems like it is more difficult adjusting my seat -- not too far not too close so I can allow myself to let the clutch in all the way in and out respectively.

Whenever I shift, say from 1st to 2nd, or 2nd to 3rd, I jerk the car a bit violently. I take my foot off the throttle completely, clutch in, shift, clutch out and then return to the gas. Maybe I'm just not quick and smooth enough.

3). The clutch is brand new. Does it need to be 'broken in' so to speak? And with a car like this would it feel stiffer since it is new? will it become more fluid?
 
Last edited:

Cogen Man

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2011
Location
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2011 Golf TDI DSG.
http://www.wikihow.com/Drive-Manual

I don't really have any tips for you other than attaching the above link. Sounds like you have already done the internet thing. Also taking lessons was a good call. It takes practice when first learning. As you've found out it can also be expensive. All I can add is good luck and don't burn up another clutch. :eek:
What made you get a manual ? Was it the fuel economy ? Maintenance costs of the DSG auto ? Someone talk you into it ? Maybe nobodies business ? :confused: :D
 

Bob_Fout

Oil Wanker
Joined
Sep 5, 2004
Location
Indiana
TDI
2003 Jetta - Alaska Green (sold) / 2015 GTI 2.0T
What year TDI do you have?

I'm also 5'6" to 5'7". I don't think I've ever exceed 1200 RPM when launching except on a moderately steep incline. I can launch mine with ZERO pedal input, just do it slow and smooth. The new CRs may not be able to do this.
 

BleachedBora

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Oct 16, 2003
Location
Gresham, Oregon
TDI
'81 DMC-12, '15 GL350 CDI 275 hp/448 tq - '81 Caddy ALH, '05 E320 CDI 250hp/450 tq
Yes clutches need to be broken in, they are coated in compounds to keep them from rusting, and if the shop didn't take them off with brake cleaner then you could see 50-60% holding power out of the box for a period of time. Gotta go easy on a clutch whenever you change it for a bit!

Get used to using the e-brake on hills until you have everything down, it makes things easier rather than switching from brake to throttle immediately...

Good luck!
-BB
 

belome

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 8, 2010
Location
Mid MI
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS TDI 5-speed
Dear lord... once again... get more help.

With a TDI you can just about let the clutch out without even touching the accelerator pedal. When/why are you slipping the clutch so much?
 

Dozenspeed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
May 1, 2012
A gasser Japanese car will act like a totally different animal compared to a German diesel! Your TDI should be easier to learn on.

You can push the clutch IN about as fast as you like, let off the throttle simultaneously. I think you are reving too high. Try letting the clutch out about 85% onto the gear, then easing out the rest slowly with light throttle. Once clutch is out fully you can apply more acceleration.

The clutch is meant to allow slip and easement into connecting a "stopped" wheel to a rotating engine. The clutch plate is a slip-wear surface. The clutch fully engaged on the gear or fully disengaged (neutral) causes no wear. Your goal is to limit the time and severity of that slip period between gears. Partial clutch plate engagement and high revs will cause the maximum wear of the two meeting surfaces.

What is the highest you've reved the motor while fully in a gear? Nothing wrong with getting it up to 3000-3500 regularly.

EDIT: How many miles have you had it now, and has the original clutch already been replaced?
 
Last edited:

Cgiroux

Active member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
TDI
none
What made you get a manual ? Was it the fuel economy ? Maintenance costs of the DSG auto ? Someone talk you into it ? Maybe nobodies business ? :confused: :D
Just thought I'd try something different. I've been riding motorcycles, so a clutch isn't fundamentally new to me. I just didn't have much experience driving stick in a car let alone a diesel engine. Maybe the extra torque is why I am having such a hard time with the clutch? I should practice more using nothing but the clutch I guess.

What year TDI do you have?

I'm also 5'6" to 5'7". I don't think I've ever exceed 1200 RPM when launching except on a moderately steep incline. I can launch mine with ZERO pedal input, just do it slow and smooth. The new CRs may not be able to do this.
It is a 2011. I'll try a maximum of 1200 RPM from now on.
 

loosecannon

Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Location
Ontario, Canada
TDI
2003 Golf
How far do you have to release the clutch pedal before it starts to catch?

My golf clutch releases right as I take my foot off the floorboard. I recently drove a jetta that had a very high clutch point (ie. release the pedal all the way and catches at the last moment) and I had a hard time for a few minutes because I was pressing the clutch too far in and then pushing the gas too early.

If your clutch releases high, you don't have to push it all the way to the floor. Only enough to engage/disengage. This should make for smoother shifts.

Other than that I shift between 2500 and 2800 rpm, and the engine dips to roughly 2100 by the time the clutch is engaged and foot is back on the gas.

I recommend as above:
- go to flat parking lot, learn to start without any gas
- on a very small hill, release clutch until you can just start to feel it catching (you should've learned this point from first step), then smoothly rev to 1000-1200 and feather out the remainder of the clutch.
- as you practice, this should become close to one motion. Consider yourself learned when you can hold on a hill (rocking forward and then rolling backwards with clutch in) without stalling.

Should be all uphill from there.
 
Last edited:

Cgiroux

Active member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
TDI
none
Dear lord... once again... get more help.
With a TDI you can just about let the clutch out without even touching the accelerator pedal. When/why are you slipping the clutch so much?
I'm not sure. I'm afraid of leaving the clutch pedal halfway in. I know I shouldn't give it more than 1200 RPM (on a flat, at least) before releasing the clutch completely.
A gasser Japanese car will act like a totally different animal compared to a German diesel! Your TDI should be easier to learn on.
You can push the clutch IN about as fast as you like, let off the throttle simultaneously. I think you are reving too high. Try letting the clutch out about 85% onto the gear, then easing out the rest slowly with light throttle. Once clutch is out fully you can apply more acceleration.
The clutch is meant to allow slip and easement into connecting a "stopped" wheel to a rotating engine. The clutch plate is a slip-wear surface. The clutch fully engaged on the gear or fully disengaged (neutral) causes no wear. Your goal is to limit the time and severity of that slip period between gears. Partial clutch plate engagement and high revs will cause the maximum wear of the two meeting surfaces.
What is the highest you've reved the motor while fully in a gear? Nothing wrong with getting it up to 3000-3500 regularly.
EDIT: How many miles have you had it now, and has the original clutch already been replaced?
I think you are right with me revving the car too high. I will shift earlier from now on for the sake of my clutch, not going above 3500.
The car right now has 49K miles. The original clutch has been replaced. I should have wrote down exactly, but I'd say this new clutch has had maybe 50 miles on it.

Guess I will try again in about 5 hours. This time shifting earlier (2500-3000 RPM) Fortunately there is a good empty parking lot to practice in <1mi away from me. I will try using nothing but the clutch in there.
 
Last edited:

40X40

Experienced
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Location
Kansas City area, MO
TDI
2013 Passat SEL Premium
You did the right thing when you got an instructor.

NOW, you need to have him drive with you IN YOUR OWN CAR.

Success will follow in time, but do this before you need yet another clutch.

Bill
 

pawel

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2008
Location
Naugatuck, CT
TDI
'09 TDI 6 MT, Platinum Gray Metallic, Anthracite Interior
Just thought I'd try something different. I've been riding motorcycles, so a clutch isn't fundamentally new to me. I just didn't have much experience driving stick in a car let alone a diesel engine. Maybe the extra torque is why I am having such a hard time with the clutch? I should practice more using nothing but the clutch I guess.



It is a 2011. I'll try a maximum of 1200 RPM from now on.
You are over thinking the issue here. How do you start riding your bike from stand still? You do not rev the bike and then just release the clutch, are you? If you did that the bike would just lunch from underneath you and you would end up on your butt. So, apply similar procedure to the TDI. The clutch release should be at the same time as you press on the go pedal, similar to motorcycle start minus the higher revs. No need to rev past 1500 rpms. And yes, the high torque of a diesel engine allows for staring without any input from the go pedal. I use this a lot in stop and go traffic. Just release the clutch and let the torque pull you. You can do this on 2 and even on 3 gear, depending on the roadway grade.

Starting on incline requires either quick coordinated foot action or slight build up and revs prior to clutch release. Just keep in mind that if you do the quick coordinated approach you should apply constant throttle acceleration to prevent stalling. If you decide to use the rev build up approach, once to get desired revs release the clutch in timely fashion, don't just dump the clutch. And watch out, if you just dump the clutch, the TDI will just take off like a racket.
 
Last edited:

Ol'Rattler

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Location
PNA
TDI
2006 BRM Jetta
The person that you bought lessons from may not be all that much better at a clutch then you. Remember that 100% of all drivers ED cars are automatic.

Find someone that actually does drive a clutch every day and at first, just have them drive your car so they can learn it's engagement point and then switch places so they can instruct you. Learn the engagement point in a level parking lot.

Dual mas flywheels, like your car has, can have a very terrible engagement point. My 2006 did and I replaced it with a Singe Mass Flywheel at 50K miles because of that. Still, you should not smell any burning on even a crappy DMF.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
I think all the TDIs, past and present, DMF or not, are about the easiest manual transmission vehicles ever to drive... the only thing that comes close as far as a car goes is a Civic Hybrid (GOBS of torque) or some oil Iron Duke GM X/A/N body heap. Sometimes, some people just can't get it, I guess. I grew up around them, to me it is no more of a task than it is to breathe.

You can just let the engine idle and take off from a stand still, even the CR cars. I pull every one in and out of the shop at idle speed... and we even have a steep ramp behind the building. They'll just idle right on up.
 

V-DubLuv

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2012
Location
Davis, California
TDI
2002 Golf tdi
try using the clutch only when launching until you get a feel for it. The tdi's are pretty difficult to stall in comparison to other cars.
 

A5INKY

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Sep 4, 2007
Location
Louisville, KY
TDI
2006 Jetta TDI, 2002 Eurovan Westphalia VR6
Just thought I'd try something different. I've been riding motorcycles, so a clutch isn't fundamentally new to me. I just didn't have much experience driving stick in a car let alone a diesel engine. Maybe the extra torque is why I am having such a hard time with the clutch? I should practice more using nothing but the clutch I guess.



It is a 2011. I'll try a maximum of 1200 RPM from now on.
IMHO an MC is the best way to learn use a clutch properly, especially a dirt bike. Off road motorcycles (and most road bikes too) have wet multi disc clutch packs that are designed to be 'slipped'. That is in contrast to our dry single disc clutches that are NOT designed to be slipped. In light of that fact I have taught countless kids to use a clutch by butting their front wheel against a solidly stationary object (big rock, downed tree, etc.) and having them practice feet-up balancing while keeping pressure on the object with the front wheel by lightly (slipping) disengaging the clutch. Purpose is to teach them the "feel" of the engagement point. Once they 'get it' most can stay balanced at a standstill like that indefinitely.

I am certainly not recommending anything of sort in your car. However, I am encouraging you to try and develop a solid, repeatable 'feel' for that clutch engagement point. I would forget the RPM references as TDIs can safely be launched at idle if you know what you are doing. If I were you I would go to an empty parking lot and practice taking off with no throttle input at all. Let the clutch out really slow until you reach that engagement point then w/o hesitation increase the rate of release inversely proportionally to vehicle speed thus minimizing slippage wear and tear. With practice you should be able to smoothly get the car rolling in 2-3 seconds w/o throttle and minimal clutch wear.

Take the principle of 'feel' that this exercise teaches and apply it to the other shifts and you should be smooth and easy on the clutch in no time.
 

MonsterTDI09

TDIClub Enthusiast, Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Location
NoVa/NJ
TDI
2010 Jetta DSG/ up keep on 2009 Jetta DSG 2006 Jetta Pag 2 in North SEA Green
Come on over I can help you out. Just PM me
 

Cgiroux

Active member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
TDI
none
You are over thinking the issue here. How do you start riding your bike from stand still? You do not rev the bike and then just release the clutch, are you? If you did that the bike would just lunch from underneath you and you would end up on your butt.
True..thanks :)
 

BGR Alex

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 15, 2013
Location
Minnesota
TDI
2013 Sportwagen TDI 6MT
I've been driving manual transmission cars since I got my license over a decade ago. I actually found the TDI to be one of the harder transmissions to learn on based on the power/torque curve of the diesel.

When I help people learn to drive, I do what someone mentioned earlier and just have them verrrrry slowly engage the clutch (so slowly releasing the pedal from the floor) so they can get the feel of the engagement point. Almost every car out there will not stall of done slowly enough. Do this enough where you get a good memory of the engagement point, and right at that point start giving it a little gas while continuing to release the clutch.
 

eats1963

Veteran Member
Joined
May 7, 2007
Location
Saint Anne, IL
TDI
2015 Passat TDI SEL Premium
My 2001 Jetta was the very first manual transmission car ever. When I first picked it up, I must have stalled it 100 times just trying to drive away from the dealership. I even had to have a cop stop traffic so I could get through an intersection ( how embarrassing). I think that within a mile, I had the feel for the engagement point and just let the engine idle speed start me out. Once I got used to that, then I started playing around with using the 'go' pedal so I wasn't crawling away from stop signs/lights. But, I think the newer models have the low engine idle kill point so you may have to add some go pedal or the engine will stall.
 

belome

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 8, 2010
Location
Mid MI
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS TDI 5-speed
Dear lord, you own a bike and can't drive a car?

Are you sure your car isn't screwed up and you just don't know it?

The only time the clutch should be halfway out is on takeoff.
 

Graham Line

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2012
Location
Pacific Northwest
TDI
'12 Golf TDI 6M
My kid, who is reasonably bright, had a hard time learning the clutch at first because one of his idiot friends had told him they were impossible to learn. Thanks, Chris.
Once he got the feel of starting at idle by just easing the clutch out, he learned very quickly.

Driving position on TDi cars is pretty adjustable. You want to have just a bit of bend at the knee when the clutch pedal is pushed all the way down. If your driving position isn't quite right, modulating the clutch can produce the symptoms you describe.
 

bubbagumpshrimp

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Location
Virginia
TDI
'13 Jetta TDI
One thing that helps (even on inclines)....keep your right foot on the brake:

1. Ease your left foot off the clutch until you can feet it grab. If you can't "feel" it grab, watch the rpm needle as you're letting the clutch out...you'll see it drop/shift when the clutch begins to engage.

- You can also do the brake step using the parking brake, though that adds a level of complexity to it (manipulating controls with both hands and both feet). It would be worth trying it out though...


2. Start to apply pressure to the accelerator with your right foot (after completing the previous step).

3. As you're rolling on the gas (slighly) with your right foot...roll off the clutch with your left foot. The key is to think small/subtle inputs. It doesn't take much to get these cars going.

As some of the others said...TDI's are a perfect car to learn to drive manual with. They have gobs of torque down low, so you don't have to rev it up just to get it moving (as you'll see people doing with most four bangers).
 

Cgiroux

Active member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
TDI
none
Dear lord, you own a bike and can't drive a car?
Are you sure your car isn't screwed up and you just don't know it?
The only time the clutch should be halfway out is on takeoff.
I don't personally own a motorcycle, but I did take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's basic rider course and got my class M license that way. Motorcycles seem so much easier, I don't know why they seem more forgiving. I could do figure eights and slow maneuvers pretty easily when they were testing us.

There's certainly nothing wrong with the car aside from any premature clutch wear I may have caused. It's just a matter of me learning. I recall my motorcycle instructor telling us students that we would have an easier time learning how to ride a bike (street bike, not dirtbike) if we didn't have any experience driving a stick shift car which is understandable in hindsight.
 
Last edited:

bubbagumpshrimp

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Location
Virginia
TDI
'13 Jetta TDI
I don't personally own a motorcycle, but I did take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's basic rider course and got my class M license that way. Motorcycles seem so much easier, I don't know why exactly they seem more forgiving. I could do figure eights and slow maneuvers pretty easily when they were testing us.
Operate the clutch in exactly the same manner. The rolling on (gas) and rolling off (clutch) in one fluid movement that I mentioned. If you can operate a motorcycle (I have one), you can drive a car with a manual transmission. My $.02...a motorcycle is actually more complicated, as all four of your extremities are working to operate a motorcycle.
 

MonsterTDI09

TDIClub Enthusiast, Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Location
NoVa/NJ
TDI
2010 Jetta DSG/ up keep on 2009 Jetta DSG 2006 Jetta Pag 2 in North SEA Green
I can help you. I know how to drive a stick. I live near the Cherry Hill mall.
 

JB05

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Location
Il.USA
TDI
Golf,2005,anthracite blue
I learned to manual shift on a 5 speed rental truck with air brakes; this was a part time job I had in my youth. I found out the hard way that the air brakes only operate when the engine driven air compressor is spinning. I did master the incline start from a dead stop after some scary moments. Never get too close to the rear of a truck on an incline. I recently had difficulty trying to drive my neighbor's five speed Maxima. Much lighter clutch on the auto vs. truck.
 

MontrealTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
May 10, 2013
Location
Montreal
TDI
2013 Golf Wagon TDI w/DSG
Dear lord... once again... get more help.

With a TDI you can just about let the clutch out without even touching the accelerator pedal. When/why are you slipping the clutch so much?
First thing you should do is on level ground, put it in first and SLOWLY let the clutch go until it starts moving. That is your friction point. Practice letting go of the clutch in first gear and going forwards without pressing the accelarator. This will give you a good feel of where the transfer point between accelerator and clutch. Then, practice using the accelarator AS the car starts rolling to smoothly accelerate. Once you have this down for first gear, the rest is childs play.

Most of all, do not overthink it, it should be a fluid procedure not a series of steps.
 

KITEWAGON

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2009
Location
Seacoast, NH
TDI
2014 Touareg Exec, 2014 JSW
Definitely over thinking it.

All I can say is to relax and don't worry. It isn't impossible. You WILL get it. Eventually it will become as natural and effortless to you as breathing.
 

MonsterTDI09

TDIClub Enthusiast, Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Location
NoVa/NJ
TDI
2010 Jetta DSG/ up keep on 2009 Jetta DSG 2006 Jetta Pag 2 in North SEA Green
I offer to help you. A response would been nice. I guess you are a Troll .
 

Michael Aos

Veteran Member
Joined
May 31, 2013
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
TDI
Jetta SportWagen
Driving position on TDi cars is pretty adjustable. You want to have just a bit of bend at the knee when the clutch pedal is pushed all the way down. If your driving position isn't quite right, modulating the clutch can produce the symptoms you describe.
I have a similar problem with my 2005 Outback XT Limited 5MT.

When my wife drives it, she moves the seat WAY up. As an aside, I contend she doesn't know how to correctly operate a clutch.

I find it takes a day or two for me to get the seat adjusted back to where the clutch manipulation feels right to me again.
 
Top