A manual transmission car has three pedals, but you have only two feet. Therefore, you might assume it’s not possible to operate all three pedals at the same time. As it turns out, it can be done. There’s a method called the heel and toe technique, and it uses the right foot to manipulate the gas pedal and the brake pedal simultaneously.
You can drive a manual car for a lifetime without ever using heel and toe technique, and that’s just fine. However, there are two situations where the method has some usefulness. One is in heel toe downshifting at speed while turning, and it’s used mostly on the track by racers. The other is for a scenario that’s far removed from the world of racing. The heel and toe technique is useful when starting out a stick shift car uphill from a stop sign or stoplight.
It takes place at the worst possible time. Your manual transmission car starts to shake or hesitate. The engine sputters and then goes silent. You’ve stalled.
It happens to everybody, even folks who’ve been driving stick shift for years. But that’s small consolation when you’ve just pulled out from a stoplight and there’s a line of impatient drivers behind you. If you hear a horn or two from the throng back there, it only adds to your anxiety.
The most important thing is to keep your head and not panic. It takes just a second or two to get the car restarted and on its way. If you rush or become over-anxious there’s a fair chance you’ll stall out again.
Just remember, you haven’t hurt your vehicle, and everybody in line, including you, is going to get where they were going without noticeable delay. Here a few pointers about stalls: what causes them, how to prevent them and what to do if one happens.
If a nice open parking spot is just sitting there waiting for you, it’s about as easy to park a manual transmission car as an automatic car. However, if you have to work to get into a parking space, it can be a bigger challenge with a manual.
In these situations, you’ll need all your stick shift clutch control skills. You’ll also need the normal skills for parking an automatic transmission vehicle: paying attention to your surroundings and precise steering moving both forward and in reverse.
Driving downhill in a stick shift car doesn’t require the skills, the practice and the clutch control of uphill driving, but there’s still plenty to consider. You won’t have to worry about rolling backward, but you still have to think about what gear you’re in, when to brake and how to deal with the traffic around you.
Cruising down from a mountaintop, edging down a steep hill in town and driving through “rollers” in the countryside don’t require exactly the same techniques, but there are some basic rules you should follow no matter what kind of hill you’re descending.