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Discussion Starter #1
The '08 Si I bought a few months ago is the first manual/standard car I've ever owned.

I watched countless videos "how-to" guides for driving stick before buying the car and thought it wouldn't be as hard for me to pick up as it's been. I even had a stick-driving buddy with me the first few times I drove it to give me some pointers. Needless to say, it's a much different beast once you're behind the wheel. I stalled numerous times trying to get rolling and it wasn't until my buddy told me to try starting out in 2nd gear that I was able to get rolling properly and drive off.

I currently am not able to drive the car because not only does it sit at my parents house as I live in a tiny apartment complex and don't have the room to park it, nor do I trust it to not get dinged or worse, but I don't have a ton of spare time between work, getting ready to move to another state, AND waiting until my parents are home to move their cars that are blocking it in their driveway.

Anyway, the reason for this post is just to get some answers and tips on driving on my Civic and I figured the best place to get them would be from the community that knows these cars best.

1. Starting in 2nd gear is definitely NOT something I'm supposed to be doing right? Any explanation as to why it was a tiny bit easier for me to actually not stall?

2. What is the proper technique for a smooth start?

3. Downshifting/stopping - Say I'm cruising around in 4th and need to stop at a stop light/sign. What's the proper procedure here? Downshift sequentially to 1st while slowing down? I figure it most likely isn't okay to bring the car to a stop while in 4th.

4. Does the clutch NEED to be pushed fully to the floor in order to shift gears? I did it this way while driving but my buddy says otherwise.

I think that's all I have, sorry for the beginner questions but I am just an anxiety riddled person and this would really just put me at ease. Thanks so much!
 

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I'm gonna tell you what I do, it doesn't mean its the only way to do it, but its just what I prefer.

1. I always start off in 1st gear.
2. technique for a smooth start is learning where the catch point is, practice slowly and feel where the clutch starts to grab.
3. If I am coming to a stop and I'm in fourth gear, I keep it in fourth gear until I'm at about 10-15mph and then put the car in neutral if its gonna a long stop or I put into first if I'm only gonna wait 5 seconds or less.
4. I always push the clutch all the way in.
 

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1. The k20 isn’t a v8 with a ton of torque and really needs to be in 1st gear in order to get rolling.

2. Getting to a smooth start really just takes practice and learning where and how to slip the clutch.

3. I always downshifted to 3rd and about half the time to 2nd too. Never went all the way to first because 1st gear is so steep. Also I started to slow down early and used the engine to do some of the braking also.

4. Always go to the floor.


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Practice on a hill with no traffic and practice the uphill until you learn the power clutch ratio of the car. Ride with some one who knows how to drive manual and learn good habits. Dont leave your foot engage on the clutch when your stopped more than 4 secs. Welcome to engine braking
 

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Thank you guys very much for the responses! I had the time to do a bit of driving today and definitely felt more confident on the road, though I still get nervous when at a stop sign or intersection with other cars behind me and ended up stalling.
There’s no better way to learn than getting your own manual car. The civic is very forgiving as stated above. It’s not a V8. For a while you will be your own worst enemy. Don’t over think it.
Practice finding the catch point of your clutch.
Easiest way to do this for me and how I’ve learned on all my cars is going somewhere safe like an empty parking lot or a drive way if you have the space. Pop up the ebrake just to be safe and clutch to the floor and pop it in 1st. SLOWLY release the clutch when you see the RPMS dip and feel vibration that is your catch point. Do this repeatedly to get a feel for exactly where the catch point is. It will become second nature. I’ve been driving stick since I was 11 and this is how I’ve learned the catch point on every car I’ve ever driven.

Remember that you treat the pedals like an old school scale, as one goes down the other comes up so as you’re releasing the clutch you’re evenly applying pressure to the gas.

Also, starting in 2nd is easier for you because you’re most likely feeding too much gas, if you do this in first and dump the gear too fast you’ll most likely panic and stall. It’s all about balancing the pressure between the two.

Hope this helps!
 

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I recommend you go to an empty parking lot. Get in a level place where you can drive straight at least 50 yards. I want you to practice starting in first, getting up to about 15, shifting in second and stopping. Then I want you to back up straight to the beginning. Straight forward then backwards. Then do it again and again until you feel comfortable with the clutch. Be patient. At that point, try getting up to speed and making a turn. You can go around a corner in second without the clutch. Then try going far enough to get to third, then downshift to second and do the corner. Be patient and practice where no others are, you’ll get it in no time.
 

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I feel your pain, because I was in your exact situation about 2 months ago. My 8th gen is the first manual car I’ve owned as well! What everyone else is saying is absolutely right, especially about downshifting to say 3rd when coming to a stop. That seems to be the best gear for engine braking in my experience.

The reason you’re having so much trouble is because the 8th gen Si has an electronic throttle instead of a mechanical linkage to the throttle body. This means the percentage of your throttle is being monitored by a sensor and relayed to the ECU.While this has numerous benefits, unfortunately it means that you can’t exactly “feel” the percentage of throttle you’re giving the car. So, pulling away in first gear and rev-matching your downshifts can really take some proper time learning the car more than other cars. Not to mention the mannerisms of a manual car are different to an auto.

What I have found that helps with pulling away is:

1. Be ready with your clutch foot flat about 5 seconds before the light changes if you can see the other lights.
2. Give it a liiiiiittle throttle. Enough to get to about 1.3k rpm and then slowly let the clutch out until you can feel the car begin to move.
3. Unless you start giving the car a little more gas once you’ve hit the “biting point” you’ll feel it start to shudder and just generally be unhappy.
4. Give it a bit more gas as you slowly let the clutch out.
5. Practice practice practice.
You’ll eventually get it, I’m sure you aren’t doing much wrong apart from pulling away in second. I wouldn’t recommend that. =P
 

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I've taught my wife and three kids to drive a stick. Flat parking lot with a lot of space. no gas, 1st gear, use just clutch, no gas - start rolling with only the clutch until its fully engaged. Do this until you can do it 10 + times in a row without stalling. Then repeat the same in 2nd gear until 10 + times. Then go back to 1st gear and incorporate gas into the mix and shifting from first to second. You need to be patient and you'll get the hang of it. And just when you think its safe to drive on the road and someone is behind you you'll stall 4-5 times in a row and you'll be frustrated but it will come. And once you feel comfortable driving a stick you'll wonder how it was that it was so clumsy in the beginning and how simple it is once you get it. The Si can drive in 2nd gear from a stop to highway speeds without having to shift, its a great car to learn how to drive a manual. The e46 M3 is another sweet forgiving clutch with an equally great transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks a million for all the incredibly helpful tips guys! Wasn't expecting this many responses!

Got another quick question though before I take the car out again tomorrow and get in some serious practice:

Say I'm trying to reverse a short distance, like backing out of a driveway, what's the right way to handle this? Is it fine to hold the clutch, right at the point that the vehicle starts moving, until I'm fully out? Isn't this considered "riding" the clutch? Also what about being stuck in slow, bumper-to-bumper traffic?
 

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Backing out is just like going forward until you need to change direction, clutch in the change to 1st, then start rolling forward. Don’t over think it.

And traffic while driving stuck is just never fun. Lots of clutch in and out until things clear up. Actually preferred my truck in traffic because it doesn’t need throttle input to get rolling (Ford 300, so tons of torque and a motor that will lug) lol


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The only thing I can say when it comes to reversing is ensure that the car is at an absolute complete stop before shifting into reverse, and then once you’re ready to pull away stop completely before shifting into first. You don’t want to put extra strain on your transmission by not coming to a complete stop. Other than that, I’m sure that all will make sense eventually. :)
 

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The only thing I can say when it comes to reversing is ensure that the car is at an absolute complete stop before shifting into reverse, and then once you’re ready to pull away stop completely before shifting into first. You don’t want to put extra strain on your transmission by not coming to a complete stop. Other than that, I’m sure that all will make sense eventually. :)
While the complete stop is probably the best way to go about it, I’ve had never had an issue with shifting them between 1st and reverse while moving. As long as the clutch is good and it’s all the way in then I haven’t had any issues.


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While the complete stop is probably the best way to go about it, I’ve had never had an issue with shifting them between 1st and reverse while moving. As long as the clutch is good and it’s all the way in then I haven’t had any issues.


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While it may not cause any perceivable damage, every time you do that, it is causing an amount of wear to occur on your transmission. It’s not like if you don’t come to a complete stop you’ll destroy first/reverse gear and be unable to drive; it’s more so a lesson in mechanical sympathy because if you do that very often your transmission will go bad sooner.
 
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