MOVING OFF, THE PEDALS AND THE OBSERVATIONS.
To move off the really important thing is to understand what the pedals actually do and be able to translate that into action.
The clutch is simply a way of feeding power to the wheels once you have selected the gear. If you put the clutch down you separate the engine and the wheels. If you bring the clutch up you connect the engine and the wheels.
The car might well weigh over a ton and so bringing the clutch up really quickly will be too much of a shock for the engine because you are trying to make the engine move more than a ton of car from rest.
The result is usually a stall.
If you smoothly bring the clutch up to the point where the engines sound changes slightly and the car starts to sit up slightly and vibrate then what you should do is keep your foot still. (If you get a creaking noise from the back of the car then you are bringing the clutch up too high).
You’ve now found what is called the ‘biting point’. Once you’ve found the biting point and released the handbrake then the car should move. What you do next is WAIT until the car has moved a couple of metres and ONLY THEN should you bring the clutch completely up and maybe press the gas a little more to accelerate away.
Practice bringing the clutch up to that point lot’s of times and try to get the clutch to the ‘biting point’ quickly and then holding at that point. If you can do that reliably and consistently then your early attempts at moving off should go really well. It will also be much smoother if you press the gas pedal down slightly because although the clutch is capable of moving the car off on it’s own a bit of extra power can help to make moving off more reliable, easier and smoother.
So the routine is;
Into first gear
Set the gas so that the engine note is just slightly higher than at idling speed
Find the biting point
KEEP YOUR FEET STILL!
Have a look around by checking the mirrors and into your blindspot
Think about whether to signal or not
If it’s safe to go, release the handbrake
When the car has moved a metre or two then lift off the clutch and smoothly accelerate away
And that’s all there is to it!
Apart from moving off uphill. The difference there is that the car might take a little longer to get moving so the plan should be to wait a little longer before you take your foot off the clutch. Also use a little more gas than normal to help get the car moving.
SLOWING DOWN AND MOVING OFF WITHOUT STOPPING.
When you approach a junction to turn either left or right, you generally slow the car down. If you don’t then the result could be disastrous. Imagine going around a corner way too fast and not being able to steer in time to make the turn.
Stand by a T-Junction and watch how drivers deal with it. Does every single driver stop at the ‘Give Way’ lines even if the road they are turning into is clear?
Of course they don’t. They drive incredibly slowly up to the ‘Give Way’ lines and then if it’s clear they make the turn slowly and accelerate away.
So what you need to learn is how to slow your car down to an absolute crawl and then move off again without stopping. There are two different situations you need to be able to deal with, those situations where you are going uphill and those where you are going downhill or on the level.
Going uphill, just come off the gas pedal and the car will start to slow down. As it begins to get very slow put the clutch down and move into first gear, then just as you are running out of speed bring the clutch up BUT ONLY TO THE BITING POINT. At the same time give a trickle of gas and with a bit of practice you should be able to hold the car still on the hill by using the clutch or creep it forward VERY slowly.
When you get to this point and you want to move off again just ease the clutch up a millimetre or three and you should move away, then after a couple of metres you can come off the clutch completely and give more gas to accelerate away.
Downhill or on the level the procedure is pretty much the same except that just taking your foot off the gas pedal may not be enough to slow you down to a crawl. In this situation and especially going downhill you may also need to use a little brake to slow down (But not quite stop).
So if you are on the level or going downhill, come off the gas pedal and the car should start to slow down then use a little brake if necessary to slow yourself to a crawl. As it begins to get very slow put the clutch down and move into first gear. When you want to move off again bring the clutch up BUT ONLY TO THE BITING POINT. At the same time give a trickle of gas and with a bit of practice you should be able to creep it forward VERY slowly.
When you get to this point and you want to build up speed again just ease the clutch up a little and you should move away, then after a couple of metres you can come off the clutch completely and give more gas to accelerate away.
It takes practice to get right but it is precisely the skill that millions of drivers use every day to deal with junctions.
Some instructors do teach people to stop at every junction rather than do what I’ve described above.
I know this because their confused pupils come to me on a regular basis and tell me that they’ve been taught to do things differently to the way that they see their parent’s and friends drive.
If your instructor teaches that way ask them why. If they say it’s because they want to teach you how to safely use the handbrake when stopping on hills that’s fair enough but if you then aren’t shown how to use the method I’ve described above, change instructors.
It’s an essential part of driving and you NEED to know how to do it.