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Dragstrip and Launch Techniques Discussion 1/4 mile, 1/8 mile, launch discussions.

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Old 07-01-2009, 08:24 PM   #1
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Question for seasoned stick shift drivers

Hey guys,

As of 6/11/09, I became the proud owner of a 2SS/RS IBM Camaro w/ Sunroof and Manual Transmission.

It is my first stick shift car, and I've come a long way in terms of driving it between the 11th and now. I had to have a friend drive it home for me

But I have a few questions that I would appreciate if anyone can answer. It's basically do's and don'ts, more or less...I want to avoid "hurting" my baby as much as I can.

1. As you could probably guess, steep hills are a toughy for a new stick driver (me, anyways). And idiots where I live get right on my ass when I'm on a hill at a stop light or something. So what I have to do so I won't roll and hit the idiot behind me is keep the break depressed and let off the clutch until it hits that "sweet spot" and starts to roll forward without giving it any gas. Is this considered "riding it", and how bad is it for the car? Also, backing up I have been inclined to do this to, since if I give it gas a let off the clutch I will probably go launching into a tree or something ... is this normal?

2. When at a light, do you recommend keeping the clutch depressed or putting it in neutral and letting off the clutch?

Thanks in advance
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:29 PM   #2
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1. Don't be afraid to use the emergency brake to help hold you in place on a hill until you get the hang of it. Go somewhere where you are by yourself and practice. It will payoff.

2. Don't think it matters. Depends on the length of the light, how long you've be driving, etc, etc. Either way isn't going to hurt the car.

Good luck!
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:30 PM   #3
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Answer #1: No. That's just the clutch grabbing onto the engine power to start moving the car: think of it as the equivalent to the idle speed 5 mph on an automatic car. RIDING the clutch is when you give the car gas while you have the clutch depressed which will wear it out. It's common for folks to ride the clutch if they're trying to do a speedy reverse. It's okay to cheat once in awhile but don't make a habit of it. As for steep hills, if it's working for you right now and your car hasn't blown up yet, then keep doing it.

Answer #2: When you're at a light, just put it in first and keep your foot on the clutch. It's not worth putting in neutral since it's bound to not last too long.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:31 PM   #4
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If you are on a hill you can hold in on the emergency button with it pulled up and when you take off just let the emergency brake go, hope this helps. The more you drive it the better you will get. At a light, depending on how long the light is, I usually just leave the clutch in till I am ready to go.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:31 PM   #5
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DO NOT drive with your left foot on the clutch petal! It will mess it up.
Learn the balance of gas and clutch... You do not have to over rev to make it go! If you let the clutch out slow enough, you can start off without touching the gas!!

PRACTICE!!!! Parking lot, driveway... YOU can do it! I have my 14 year old son driving a stick already! You can do it!
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:35 PM   #6
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Good advice while on a hill. When I am at a stop light I almost always put it in neutral and then just relax. Some of the lights can be rather long.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:39 PM   #7
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At a red light, put it in nuetral with the clutch out and your foot off the clutch pedal. Take it easy on the throw out bearing.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:43 PM   #8
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I must say, this is helping me, and I don't even have a car yet! But I plan on getting my V6 Camaro with a manual transmission, and this is making me less nervous.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onechuck View Post
If you are on a hill you can hold in on the emergency button with it pulled up and when you take off just let the emergency brake go, hope this helps. The more you drive it the better you will get. At a light, depending on how long the light is, I usually just leave the clutch in till I am ready to go.
Good advice. That is how I learned taking off from a hill.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nUcLeArEnVoY View Post
Answer #1: No. That's just the clutch grabbing onto the engine power to start moving the car: think of it as the equivalent to the idle speed 5 mph on an automatic car. RIDING the clutch is when you give the car gas while you have the clutch depressed which will wear it out. It's common for folks to ride the clutch if they're trying to do a speedy reverse. It's okay to cheat once in awhile but don't make a habit of it. As for steep hills, if it's working for you right now and your car hasn't blown up yet, then keep doing it.

Answer #2: When you're at a light, just put it in first and keep your foot on the clutch. It's not worth putting in neutral since it's bound to not last too long.

So, with your definition of riding the clutch, is it normal to ride it for split seconds at a time when your taking off (balancing it with the gas) or shifting? Maybe I just need to be quicker or more fluid.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:10 PM   #11
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From what my dad told me you should put it in neutral at a light its never good to keep the clutch depressed any longer then it needs to be.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:10 PM   #12
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Put the car in neutral when your not moving, depress the clutch as few times as you can, try never to hold the pedal down too long. This will prevent wear on the clutch and the T.O. bearing , very costly to replace.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:39 PM   #13
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Do all the above, just avoid using the clutch eased out to hold the car on a hill or any incline.Use the brake and the emergency brake if some one pulls in close behind you. You will get to where lightning fast your off the brake and out just right on the clutch and on the gas for a smooth start like a pro. It helps to not allow the guy behind you to get too close, on a hill you will usually roll a tad so just ease up a little if you see him come in too much.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:41 PM   #14
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if there is someone on my bumper i put it in reverse so they see the lights
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:50 PM   #15
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Find a paved incline somewhere that there are no cars around and practice, practice, practice.
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:04 PM   #16
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I've been driving nothing but manuals for 12 years, and I can't reitterate enough about practice, practice, practice! You NEVER hold the car on a hill with the clutch. Every time you do it, even for a split second, you are burning a bit of the clutch and starting to scar the flywheel.

Practice on empty lots, streets, and get used to where the sweet spot is. You can hold the car on the hill with the parking brake, but I advise agaist that. It teaches you a bad habit if you are in an emergency, and you can get all discombobulated trying to remember to take off the brake, let out the clutch, and give the car gas when the light turns green and everyone behind you is honking their horn.

The most advisable way to stop on a hill is to keep the car in first gear and hold the foot brake and clutch down. When you need to go, take your foot off the brake, give it a LITTLE gas (it's a 430 horse V8 don't forget), and begin to let the cluch out while you are in the process of doing the other things.

Trust me. When you get the hang of it you won't even need to think about it.

But promise you'll never hold the car on a hill with the clutch again please
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:09 PM   #17
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yea driving stick to me is fun, but it could get tiring so i choose automatic
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:12 PM   #18
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Couple other things.

Don't grab and hold the stick. You should be able to downshift with a light touch of 2-3 fingers. Upshift with the palm.

I always keep both hands on the wheel, and only move my hand to the stick when shifting then back again....even with fast runs. This has improved my smoothness 10 fold.

And yes, use the dead pedal whenever you are not shifting. Don't hover your foot over the pedal....even the lightest touch can prematurely wear the clutch.
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:41 PM   #19
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One other thing I didn't see mentioned: When coming to a stop, you do not have to down shift thru all the gears. Brake like normal until you're at a slow speed, and throw it in neutral and stop. Of course the definition of "slow speed" depends whether you're on a freeway or a busy residential street. If I'm in OD I may slow down to 30 and throw it in neutral. As long as you don't drop the rpm's down to a point where the engine wants to stall (below 1000). This will save on your clutch and make for smoother stops. I'm sure some may disagree with me but I've been doing this for over 30 years and have only had to change one clutch.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:11 PM   #20
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yah, but I bet you have gone through more brakes than normal...downshift (you don't have to use every gear, though), use the engine more for braking than the brakes. That's one of the reasons for getting a manual. If you had an automatic you wouldn't put the car in neutral when slowing down, would you?

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Originally Posted by zekefreak View Post
One other thing I didn't see mentioned: When coming to a stop, you do not have to down shift thru all the gears. Brake like normal until you're at a slow speed, and throw it in neutral and stop. Of course the definition of "slow speed" depends whether you're on a freeway or a busy residential street. If I'm in OD I may slow down to 30 and throw it in neutral. As long as you don't drop the rpm's down to a point where the engine wants to stall (below 1000). This will save on your clutch and make for smoother stops. I'm sure some may disagree with me but I've been doing this for over 30 years and have only had to change one clutch.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:12 PM   #21
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1: i used to drive a dodge ram quad cab v8 5-gear manual. people would always ride my ass on a hill. that much weight, any little slope, and i rolled back. when people would be slowing down behind me, i would let the truck roll back a bit to warn the driver not to get to close. when they stopped, i would give it a little gas and move forward to keep some extra space. don't know if that ruins the clutch, i'm sure it wears it out sooner and wastes gas, but keeps little ricers off my ass!!

2: long light - neutral and save your leg muscles!
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:34 PM   #22
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Most all good advice. I like to keep the car in neutral at stops with the clutch released/pedal up. Like it has been said above, keep yer foot off that pedal AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

There are kinda sorta two "bearings" involved at the back of the engine/front of the transmission area. The pilot bearing carries the rear of the engine output and the "throw-out" or "release" bushing/bearing applies pressure to the clutch plate to disconnect it from the flywheel, thereby disconnecting drive force to the transmission. But you knew all that.

If you keep your foot on the clutch while in first at a light, you are "activating" the throw-out. Probably not a big deal. Every time you depress the clutch when the engine is running, this part has to spin up to speed and disconnect the clutch from the flywheel. Some would say that my method would actually wear the part out more quickly, but maybe not...read on.

Think of the engine's flywheel as a big brake disc and the clutch plate as a big brake pad that's trying to stop the engine. Because the engineers want to make that engagement (which moves the car, rather than stops the engine, in a perfect world) a smooth one, balancing the necessary level of slip between the two parts means one of them should wear more than the other...ever so slightly. That's the clutch plate, although just like brakes, the flywheel, or brake disc will wear a little, too. Once the clutch is fully released/engine and transmission engaged -OR- the clutch is fully depressed/engine and transmission not connected, there is no wear on the clutch or the flywheel.

A clutch being engaged without much power or load being applied to this equation is not presenting much wear to these parts. Pulling out of parking spots, stop and go traffic, even moderate hills do not present much of an engagement event to the system, UNLESS more power/load is applied. Think of the forces involved just with the system I have described above when you hammer the throttle just before you let out the clutch! Whoa, you got a spinning engine with buckets of torque that won't allow it to slow down easily coming into contact with a stationary clutch plate that we are asking to get up to speed quickly. And would you mind bringing this 3800 pounds along, too?

So, these parts wear. They also wear if you are a dumbass, as others have noted in previous posts. No, I didn't mean you...you're not a dumbass...you're reading Camaro5, plus you already knew all this stuff.

D.A. (for short) actions include driving along at any speed (but the higher the speed/load, the more dramatic the results) with the clutch slightly depressed, with your foot just barely grazing the top of the pedal or even with you thinking about having your left foot anywhere near that pedal when not in use. And you don't need to use it all that much.

D.A.'s will sometimes redline the engine and "drop" the clutch, most often in 1st from a stop, but also performing "speed shifting," that is, not letting off the accelerator when depressing the clutch for an upshift. Sure, it's effective for the situation, but get the parts on order, grease up the creeper and get the tranny jack ready...you're gonna need 'em.

I'm just kidding around about people being D.A.'s. Don't take it personally or a criticism of your driving style or application to situation. There's a time and place for everything.

I haven't seen much relating to downshifting and its effect on the system discussed. I'll let someone else have a go at it, if you want. Just to say, try to match the engine RPM with what the clutch engagement would drag the engine speed up to anyway when you release the clutch by 'blipping' the throttle just before letting off the pedal if there's going to be a big difference. This applies to slowing down in a fairly big hurry or to matching your gear selection before setting up for a corner you had to slow down for, but want to power through properly.

Keep in mind, I have no idea what I'm talking about, as always, and have fun. And, hey Junior, move that left foot AWAY from the pedal!

John B.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:40 PM   #23
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Ahh, I see people were responding as I was typing my little novel there.

To me, brakes are far easier to replace than a clutch. I do the RPM drop from my currently selected gear and go to neutral/coast if the conditions warrant. Brakes are also cheap.

Why not put an automatic car in neutral and coast to a stop? Ever had one with bad engine mounts? You'll find every reason to shift to neutral there ever was.

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Old 07-02-2009, 12:04 AM   #24
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1. When on a hill, leave your right foot on the brake and let the clutch out until it starts to grab, then give it some gas. You shouldn't roll back more than an inch or two.

2. Put the car in neutral at a light. If you leave your foot on the clutch, and your leg starts to get tired, and doesn't keep the clutch fully engaged, it will wear it out. it is good practice to think "clutch all the way in, or out"

3. Play with downshifting or "engine braking" IE... to go from 4th to third, clutch in, give it a little rev, shift to third (rev and shift can be done at same time while clutch is in), release clutch at even pace. Now you're in third. Matching your rpms (giving it the little rev) is the key to this, along with learning the clutch and how fast to let it out.

4. I can not stress this enough, DO NOT just hold the clutch in for more than a shift, your leg will get worn out and you will begin to not be able to hold the clutch in all the way. say to your clutch.
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Old 07-02-2009, 05:21 PM   #25
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yah, but I bet you have gone through more brakes than normal...downshift (you don't have to use every gear, though), use the engine more for braking than the brakes. That's one of the reasons for getting a manual. If you had an automatic you wouldn't put the car in neutral when slowing down, would you?
I disagree. First of all, the brakes are alot cheaper and easier to replace than a clutch and you don't have the extra wear on the engine by downshifting (although its minimal). No, I wouldn't put an automatic in neutral when stopping because this isn't good for the tranny due to the hydraulics of the system. That's why you're supposed to remove the driveshaft when towing a vehicle with an auto. And lastly, its easier on the brakes to stop a manual in neutral than an auto in drive. When in drive, the engine, even at idle, is still pushing the tranny, like when you let off the brakes at a stand still and the car starts moving. So its actually easier on the brakes and the engine and the clutch to shift to neutral on a manual tranny when coming to a stop.

BTW, I usually get about 3 years on a set of brakes.
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