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Old 12-22-2008, 01:34 AM   #1
mr18436572
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2000 SL2
Default Smoothness while shifting a manual

so my 2001 SC2 5 speed is a lot of fun to drive. im not new to manuals, but also most of my experience up to this point has been driving automatics (and i have never been into racing or driving my cars hard). when shifting, when engaging the clutch right before the next gear, how important is it to have a really smooth transition? i try to rev the engine slightly BEFORE engaging the clutch (letting the pedal up). doing that a bit late makes the car jerk a little hard (more noticeable if im in a lower gear) and feels like i am wearing out parts quicker. im finding that in the lower gears, sometimes i have a hard time being completely smooth. basically, is it normal to not be completely smooth during every shift? i guess because im so used to the smoothness of automatics, it feels like im doing something wrong or wearing out parts quicker when my shifts are not as smooth as what im used to. other than that im pretty comfortable with everything else (i really am not a newbie. i learned to drive stick years ago )

...
2000 SL2 auto - 167k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 161k - sold
1997 SC2 auto - 105k - sold
2000 SC2 auto - 117k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 250k - sold
2001 SC2 5sp - 160k - sold

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Old 12-22-2008, 03:12 AM   #2
cfg83
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

mr18436572 -

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr18436572 View Post
so my 2001 SC2 5 speed is a lot of fun to drive. im not new to manuals, but also most of my experience up to this point has been driving automatics (and i have never been into racing or driving my cars hard). when shifting, when engaging the clutch right before the next gear, how important is it to have a really smooth transition? i try to rev the engine slightly BEFORE engaging the clutch (letting the pedal up). doing that a bit late makes the car jerk a little hard (more noticeable if im in a lower gear) and feels like i am wearing out parts quicker. im finding that in the lower gears, sometimes i have a hard time being completely smooth. basically, is it normal to not be completely smooth during every shift? i guess because im so used to the smoothness of automatics, it feels like im doing something wrong or wearing out parts quicker when my shifts are not as smooth as what im used to. other than that im pretty comfortable with everything else (i really am not a newbie. i learned to drive stick years ago )
I'm not car-smart, but this sounds right to me. The lower gears are less forgiving if the transition is off. From your description, I think you just need more hours on your tranny to get the transition to be second nature.

When I am driving for smoothness in my SW2, I usually shift near the economy shift RPM, roughly 2500 RPM in most driving situations. This "tops out" the current gear (my description), and puts your MPH closer to the range of the next gear.

For me, being smooth requires a lot of time on the specific tranny. I am a bit jerky on my Dad's Ford ZX2 because I haven't had enough time on it. I have been driving manual transmissions since 1984. One way I used to practice my gear changes was to monitor my Mom in the passenger seat. If her head swung forward when I changed gears, that was too much. The reason is, the driver *knows* when the gear is engaging/disengaging, but the passenger doesn't. So, the passenger's reaction to the transition is a better barometer, IMO.

CarloSW2

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Old 12-22-2008, 04:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

I am new to the whole manual transmission thing. My 1998 SL2 is the first manual car that I've owned/driven. Well driven for a significant amount of time. I've practiced manuals on my friends' cars before.

I too notice that when shifting from first to second gear my shift is not so smooth. Neither is getting the car moving when it first.

Something that has been bothering me is the fact that the disc seems to be slipping. When shifting gears I slowly let the clutch go, but there is this sound that sounds as if the disc is slipping. Eventually, in about 3-5 seconds, the sound fades away as if the disc is fully engaged and no longer slipping. But it sort of scares me because I know the more the disc slips the quicker it will wear out.

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Old 12-22-2008, 01:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

The lower gears always require more finesse. That is because they have much more torque behind them, whereas the higher gears are meant for fast speeds and lower torque. Usually, 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear you should take a second letting out the clutch while lightly gassing. Try to keep the RPMs around 1200 while doing this for seamless shifts. For 4th and 5th, just shift and let the clutch up really fast and you don't even need to give it any gas while doing so.

Just make sure you never slip the clutch. There is no need to give it tons of gas while letting the clutch out....especially when you don't need to give it gas in the higher gears.

...
2001 Saturn SL 5 speed -- 131,000 miles
Slush boxes..... taking the fun out of driving since 1950!

Last edited by 01SL1SATURN; 12-22-2008 at 01:30 PM..

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Old 12-22-2008, 07:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

yea im so used to automatics and riding a motorcycle for several years until recently (the shifting is very smooth on bikes too). im definitely not doing anything drastic (too much gas when taking off, bogging the engine, etc) that would tell i cant drive stick or things that would cause the clutch to wear prematurely. but i might need to perfect my transitions a little more. especially because i dont usually shift at very low RPM's. well hopefully practice will make perfect, and the more i drive the better i'll get

...
2000 SL2 auto - 167k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 161k - sold
1997 SC2 auto - 105k - sold
2000 SC2 auto - 117k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 250k - sold
2001 SC2 5sp - 160k - sold

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Old 12-24-2008, 12:33 AM   #6
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

getting in a traffic jam with a manual shift car sure sucks ass

couple questions - does holding the pedal down for long periods of time (clutch disengaged) hurt or weaken the pressure plate? and is there a lot of wear on the clutch disk when getting stuck in traffic, since the car has to be accelerated/stopped/accelerated again...and so on?

...
2000 SL2 auto - 167k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 161k - sold
1997 SC2 auto - 105k - sold
2000 SC2 auto - 117k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 250k - sold
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Old 12-24-2008, 01:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr18436572 View Post
getting in a traffic jam with a manual shift car sure sucks ass

couple questions - does holding the pedal down for long periods of time (clutch disengaged) hurt or weaken the pressure plate? and is there a lot of wear on the clutch disk when getting stuck in traffic, since the car has to be accelerated/stopped/accelerated again...and so on?
Yeah, holding down the clutch pedal for long periods is not a good idea. Also I am told it can wear out your throw out bearing faster and scar up your flywheel. Not sure if I buy it, but from experience (I've been driving sticks for a while...) It's not needed. If you're gonna be stopped just throw it in Neutral and let off the clutch and gas and just keep your foot on the brake (or "cheat" and throw on the e-brake while standing still.) In my Infiniti the clutch is so easy and in my SL1 the clutch was always smooth. But I learned on a RX-7 so maybe that was a good way to start my stick driving career. One thing is certain: Every manual transmission car feels different. You could have 2 cars, same make, same model, same condition, and they will drive a little differently. In the end, it's just about time to gain your technique.

One rule I follow is try not to rev the engine before you shift. Just keep the gas consistent while putting in the clutch and shift the gears, and then let off the gas slightly and re-engage the clutch. When I read that, it doesn't seem right, but it's how I got to be smoother on my particular cars.

Oh yeah, and being in traffic SUCKS in general but with a stick it's torture!! (and if you have any back/leg problems like I do, it feels almost like you want to die. Seriously.)

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Old 12-24-2008, 12:20 PM   #8
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

An "Oh By The Way" for the new Saturn hydraulic clutch owners. The throw out bearing is always riding against the diaphragm fingers. Unless it is so cold that he throw out bearing grease keeps it from turning it is always spinning along happily. There is no free play between the bearing face and the diaphragm fingers. The free play is measured between the master cylinder piston and the actuating rod.

As the clutch engages and engine load increases you need to add gas proportional to the load increase.. When you get this sorted out the shift is smooth.

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Old 12-24-2008, 03:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

So I am new to driving manuals. I've found 1st to be practically worthless and hate the shift from 1-2 so much that now I'm shifting straight into 2 from a stop (unless the car is facing uphill of course) and just giving it more gas and easing into 2nd.

Is this all right or am I damaging something by possibly making the clutch "slip" or riding it for too long? Do other drivers bypass 1st if they can?

...
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Old 12-24-2008, 03:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

The gear ratios of the Saturn are selected so that 1st should be used. You will fry the diaphragm spring by always taking off in 2nd. The 1-2 shift is usually reasonably smooth.

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Old 12-24-2008, 04:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

Not to mention that shifting into 2nd is lugging your engine...puts lots of stress on the crankshaft.

2nd should only be used to start if you are in really bad ice. 1st is just to get you moving, so if you are rolling just put it in 2nd. For the record, it is normal for the car not to want to go into 1st when you're rolling forward.

Another word of advice...don't shift into reverse when you're already moving backward. You will be greeted with a nice grind.

...
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Old 12-24-2008, 04:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

When I had my 1993 Saturn I would use the clutch to make a smooth transition between gears .... but at a price ... I burned my clutch out!

On my 1997 Saturn at low gears if I want to have a smoother transition I just shift @ +3.5K RPM.

Also ... Practice makes perfect.

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Old 12-24-2008, 05:39 PM   #13
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

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Originally Posted by 01SL1SATURN View Post
Another word of advice...don't shift into reverse when you're already moving backward. You will be greeted with a nice grind.
Ohhh.. I hate it when I do that.

Like others have said, it's just practice. I commute to work, and being stuck in traffic gave me plenty of practice of shifting in the low gears. =) I feathered the clutch somewhat slow while reving to 1200...and just tried to get progressively faster.

The hills of San Francisco added their own lessons on starting from a stop.

Downshifting took me a bit longer to learn since I usually break all the way to a complete stop. But, just remember - have fun!

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Old 12-24-2008, 07:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

good info guys. +1 to starting in 2nd as long as the car is moving. never from a complete stop

the 1-2 shift is a lot easier during low RPM's. 3rd gear and up i usually shift at a higher RPM

when slowing down from highway speeds, i slow down with the brakes (instead of downshifting each gear and using engine braking). right before the complete stop, i shift to neutral. anyone else do this? if im not gonna stop completely, ive learned to figure out which gear is best for the particular speed im going, then i shift to that gear and continue. im comfortable with everything else but just need more practice with being smooth during transitions. ive gotten better tho since i started driving this car

...
2000 SL2 auto - 167k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 161k - sold
1997 SC2 auto - 105k - sold
2000 SC2 auto - 117k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 250k - sold
2001 SC2 5sp - 160k - sold

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Old 12-25-2008, 02:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

I've owned a few different cars with manual transmissions, and bought a 2001 SL2 about 4 weeks ago. Between my '95 SL, an '02 Beetle, my '04 Vibe and the SL2, the SL2 is *easily* the hardest one to get smooth gear changes with. The clutch is much lighter than the other cars and grabs pretty quick. Like you, the switch from 1st to 2nd is the toughest to do smoothly.

I've taken to not getting back on the gas quite as fast when I'm getting off the clutch, and that seems to help matters a bit. It still take more concentration that it should though. Maybe things will be a little easier once winter is over and I don't have to wear my big heavy boots...they certainly make it harder to "feel" the pedals.

And when I'm at a traffic light, I always put it in neutral and let the clutch out. Whether that's better for the car than constantly holding it in, I don't know. I started doing that because the Vibe's clutch is fairly heavy, so holding it in for extended periods is a little tiring.

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Old 12-25-2008, 02:13 PM   #16
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

here's some good info http://www.standardshift.com/faq.html

...
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Old 12-25-2008, 09:01 PM   #17
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

good link

another reason why i asked about smoothness is because sometimes (i think only during the 1-2 shift) i hear a clunk when the clutch engages again with the driveline. i dont hear it when i shift at low RPM's and the transition is smoother. i assumed that its normal and this sound is just from the mechanical connection that happens, and its just part of not being smooth enough. thoughts? i still havent checked motor mounts to see if they are bad or not

...
2000 SL2 auto - 167k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 161k - sold
1997 SC2 auto - 105k - sold
2000 SC2 auto - 117k - sold
1996 SL2 auto - 250k - sold
2001 SC2 5sp - 160k - sold

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Old 12-26-2008, 12:46 AM   #18
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

Quote:
Originally Posted by themrfreeze View Post

Maybe things will be a little easier once winter is over and I don't have to wear my big heavy boots...they certainly make it harder to "feel" the pedals.
i can only drive well when i'm wearing my Vans. i learned to drive a stick in them, and only ever drive in them. i can drive in other shoes, but only at my peak in vans

...
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(I'm Ben, the car is Doris)

you can't mulch at those speeds man, that's too fast

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Old 12-26-2008, 10:15 PM   #19
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

i dont use my clutch.


i dont need it.


i am good enough where i only need it to start from a stand still.

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Old 12-26-2008, 11:49 PM   #20
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Default Re: Smoothness while shifting a manual

oh yeah the footwear -- I wear vintage/saddle Piloti Sebring driving shoes. They look like "normal" shoes so I can wear them in the office.

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