Teenagers and learning to drive Manual Transmissions.

Our daughter passed her mandatory six month mark to get her license after passing drivers ed and is ready to go test for her license anytime. There is however, a hitch, The car she’s been driving is an automatic and the car she will be driving is a stick shift. My husband and I don’t own an automatic, so the lessons of learning how to drive with a clutch are underway.

I have seen so many comments of kids, (I say ‘kids’ because I’m in my 40’s, but what I really mean, is 20-30+ range) say they don’t know how to drive a stick. This was not going to be an option in our household. My husband and I decided that this would be something she would know, along with how to change her own tires, check the oil and all that other stuff we think car owners should know. Ya know?

The first time I took her out in my Husbands Jeep, she did really well, but we didn’t leave the parking lot. A lot of driving around in circles and stopping, at that time, she didn’t have her permit, so we shouldn’t have even been doing it. She did really well…and as the first time riding in the passenger seat while my 16 year old little girl took the wheel, I did pretty well too. As we pulled it into the driveway, she puts it in reverse, turns the Jeep off and says, “Well, we didn’t die, so that’s good.” I told her how great she had done…..she was just happy to be on two feet again.

Skip ahead 4 months-

After she got her permit I took her out in my Jeep, this time around the neighborhood with very few cars and never went passed 2nd gear. She killed it a couple times….got honked and yelled at by some in-a-hurry- punk, (Yes, I yelled back) but, she seemed to get the hang of it.

Last weekend she went driving for the first time with her Dad in his Jeep. At this point, she’s noticing the difference in clutches and making comments about how mine is different than his and his teaching style was a little different then mine, (Better I’ll admit, but neither of us panic or yell, what good does that do a stressed out teen?) He again took her around the neighborhood, still keeping it second gear speeds and just focusing on that 1st gear take off. After that, she had no problems. When they returned, I asked, “How’d it go?” Her dad responded with a smile “She did great!” and her response was, “Well we didn’t’ die, so that’s good.” We all laughed and her Dad and I told her, “You’ll get it, it just takes practice.”

Yesterday, I took her out again in my Jeep, thinking we’ll see if we can get her up passed 2nd gear. I let her do as her Dad had shown her and yep, we were up to second gear in no time….so then I took her into a 35 mile an hour zone…”Okay, sounds like your ready for 3rd”, she shifted right into 3rd. We drove along a long stretch of road until we hit the end, turned and came back up the same road, up into 3rd gear again. At this point I had decided, I think she’s ready for a little busier road.. I mean the kid knows how to drive just fine, it’s the clutch that gets her. I took her on some back roads that come to a round-about, (She hates those in an automatic, so the clutch made it that much more enjoyable for her)..and that’s when she realized where she was going to end up….. that’s right… a busier road. 45 MPH BABY, You’re ready for 4th gear. She said, “Wait, your taking me on a road with lots of cars?” I laughed and said, “Well, yeah! You know how to drive, you’re shifting fine, just don’t panic on first and we’ll be great.” She just took a deep breathe and was like, “Alright then, I guess we’re doing this.” As we sat at the stop sign, probably 7 cars headed towards her, she said, “Okay, I’m gonna wait…….until after that white car, then go, okay?” I said, “Sounds good.” And then we were off, the two miles back to our house was 45 and lots of traffic, but she was doing great. About 2 block from our house I asked her, “Are you done for the day?” She looked at me and said, “I am so done. That was intense, but we didn’t die so that’s good.” I laughed told her how well she’d done and high-fived her. I said, “Well, we’ll do the same thing tomorrow, same route and everything. Pretty soon you’ll be ready for the freeway.” She just looked at me like I’d lost my marbles. “Oh….I hate the freeway, even in an automatic.” I just smiled.

We’ll drive again today and then the next time she goes out it will be with her dad in his Jeep.. I’m most certain we’ll hear each time, “Well, we didn’t die, so that’s good!”

For you parents who are teaching your teen to drive in an automatic, that was fun….teaching them to drive a stick, even more entertaining!


Spread Your Wings!



5 thoughts on “Teenagers and learning to drive Manual Transmissions.”

  1. My parents did the same with me! They wanted me to learn to drive a stick shift before an automatic because ‘it’s like riding a bike, once you learn stick you never forget, and it sets you up for driving just about anything!’. I’m so glad they did it! My first car was a mini cooper (used, but still lucky, right?!) and it was the greatest! I loved being able to drive stick when most of my friends couldn’t. It took me longer to learn because I was nervous to get on the road (I got my permit at 15 but didn’t get my license until I was 17!) Good job teaching her valuable life skills!


  2. I think learning how to drive a stick shift is such a good life skill! I didn’t learn until recently (in my 20s) but I am so glad I did!


  3. Thanks for the sharing these great parental tips. I never got to learn manual but the whole experience was exhausting because I failed so many times. Maybe one day I will learn 🙂 x


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