Though automatics may have started gaining popularity in India, the majority of cars sold are still equipped with a manual gearbox. True that automatic transmission equipped cars are easier to drive and hassle-free compared to a manual gearbox but ask any enthusiast and he would definitely go for a manual box. Now precautions regarding automatics gearbox and their usage are well known by now but in all this while, some have forgotten that manual boxes too need to be kept and used properly. Here are the five biggest mistakes that people do while driving manual gearbox equipped cars.
Use the clutch improperly
The main difference between automatic trannies and manual boxes lies in the operation of the clutch. The manual and precise operation of the clutch is what keeps the drivers more engaged and that’s where problems start building in the gearbox if the clutch is not operated properly. For the uninitiated, the clutch acts as a link between the engine and the transmission and as its name suggests, ‘clutches’ the gear that is selected for operation. Now perfect gearing and clutch operation translated into high mileage, long life of the engine, transmission and the clutch itself.
However, what many do is that they press the clutch lever only half while changing gears. This results in the transmission gear grind which is then responsible for reducing the life of the parts significantly. Another issue is clutch riding, which happens when the car is already in motion and has gone past the biting point of the clutch and yet the clutch is slightly depressed. In this condition, the clutch is not engaged completely which results into a little bit slip and abnormal wear and tear. Mind you, the clutch plate and the transmission parts don’t come for cheap and if any form of damage occurs, that means a big hole in your pocket.
Using the clutch pedal as dead pedal
This is among the most common mistake people make in manual cars. Some do it unknowingly while others keep their foot on the clutch thinking this will give them quicker shift time. Now you can keep your foot in contact with the clutch if you find yourself in a condition where constant gear shifts are required but make sure that your foot is not pressing/applying pressure on the clutch pedal at all. The above practice, however, can only be done on diesel cars as they usually have harder clutch levers than their petrol counterparts. For petrol cars, therefore, it is strictly recommended to keep your foot away from the clutch all the time except when shifting gears.
Even the slightest weight on the clutch pedal will cause it to disengage the clutch partially in a petrol car, which further results in a clutch slip and wear. Many manufacturers provide a dead clutch alongside the clutch where the driver can rest their foot but that is not a usual feature. If your car doesn’t come with a dead pedal, make it a habit to rest the foot on the floorboard. It may feel a bit uncomfortable in the start and you may feel that this results in extra work for the foot but over time, it becomes a habit and your foot will not feel out of place at all.
Using the gear lever as an armrest
No folks, the gear lever is not a place to rest your hand. The gear lever was made with one and just one purpose only which is to be the medium of selecting gears easily. A secondary task of being used as a handrest was never a gear lever’s destiny and nor should you try to bring that on it. Now we know that many budget cars do not come with armrests which leads to the tendency of keeping the left hand resting on the clutch lever itself.
While doing so may seem harmless and as many people say, it is just a metal stick and no harm can be done to it by a resting hand. Alas, folks, that’s not the case as resting your hand on it means putting external pressure on it resulting in mechanical damage. As you might already know, the gear stick is connected to a lot of springs and ball bearings underneath that help it to move and change the position. This external and constant force applied by a resting hand can make the springs loosen up over time or grind the ball bearings much quicker, further resulting in reduced transmission parts life.
Putting the car in reverse gear when in motion
The reason why the manual gearbox is preferred by hardcore auto enthusiasts over an automatic tranny, in general, is because of the control it gives you over the vehicle. However, a manual car should also be operated with more precision as failing to operate the manual box properly could lead into a big hole in your pocket.
Doing antics such as putting the car in reverse gear without bringing it to a complete stop can have drastic, or we may say devastating consequences. This is not as uncommon as you think as many people have a habit of putting the transmission in reverse while the car is still moving forward. That, sir, is not only jeopardising your car’s mechanicals but also puts every Physics lesson you ever took to waste. Going by Physics lessons of old, a particle or object can’t move in the direction opposite to its current motion without stopping completely. So going against Physics with the help of your gearbox means that the wrath of your wrong actions is borne by the gearbox.
On a more practical note, putting the car in the reverse gear brings in a third small gear called the idler. It changes the direction of the motion of the gear, which puts it in reverse. Engaging the reverse gear when the car is still moving forward grinds the gear badly and can deeply damage the transmission.
Lugging the engine (Driving the car at a higher gear at low rpm)
A common sight, this happens mainly because of the belief that driving the car in higher gear will result in higher mileage, which is actually true but what it implies is misinterpreted by people. What many do is to try to upshift at lower RPMs. Let us tell you, if you are striving for better fuel efficiency, doing so will yield the exact opposite. Keeping the gear in a higher position and driving the car at a slow speed will put a negative impact on the transmission as well as more strain on the engine.
Higher the selected gear, lower the number of teeth on the gear, which means less work for the engine but only if the speed is maintained according to the gear. Driving the car at low speeds on a high gear, which is also referred to as engine lugging, causes severe damage to your car’s mechanicals over a long period and at the same time increases your fuel bills.