Learn to drive automatic or manual car – which is best? In the UK the majority of learner drivers are taught in a manual car (manual & automatic refer to the type of gear change mechanism). Because the majority of used cars for sale have a manual gearbox and automatic cars are more expensive to buy and maintain. Passing a driving test in an automatic car will only allow the driver to drive automatics. Passing a test in a manual car, enables the driver to drive both type of car – manual and automatic. Those are the facts! Now here are the myths.
Learn to Drive Automatic car
New drivers who are disabled or come from a country where automatic cars are predominant have a reason to learn to drive in an automatic car.
In the UK a new driver is often influenced by others – including their driving instructor into learning to drive in an automatic. I have been teaching for 41 years and never advised a new driver to swap to an automatic car, despite teaching pupils who were disabled.
A professional driving instructor who suggests a new driver should learn to drive in an automatic car, because they are struggling. Is not for the benefit of the student, it’s because it’s hard work for the instructor. An instructor in this situation should find another way of helping this particular student. The instructor should consider the needs of the student first.
Pupils that leave their instructor because they were told they would never learn to drive, specially in a manual car. May have been misinformed. At instructor training college I was taught to teach anyone to drive who wanted to. I’ve never veered from that statement. Perseverance by both instructor and pupil can get excellent results.
Learn to Drive in a shorter time
Learning to drive in a shorter time with an automatic is sometimes the reason a new driver swaps from a manual car. I have come across this question often, “My friend / instructor said I would learn to drive in a shorter time. If I learned in an automatic.” My answer, “What problem are you having with the gears?” student replies “None, I was just told it would save time”.
Passing your driving test is difficult only if you think it is. Become smarter and you can pass your driving test with ease providing you have had enough of the right kind of practice. Why do many people think that it is difficult to pass a driving test? A lack of understanding of the basics is one reason and urban myths another. Lets take look at a basic skill set that needs to be mastered before anything else.
Passing Your Driving Test-Car Control
Starting with basic car control is a fundamental. Never mind traffic lights, roundabouts, lane positions, other drivers. These are important, but not at the early learning stage. You must be confident with your car control, before you can master anything else.
Lets look at clutch control:
The clutch pedal is always operated by your left foot.
Pressing the clutch pedal to the floor will disengage the clutch – this means with the engine switched on the car will no longer drive. Your task to make the car move is to engage the engine onto the wheels so that the car will move. The engine side of the clutch plate (flywheel in the diagram) is moving. Because the car is stationary the other half of the clutch plates are stationary also. If you raise your left foot too quick the two clutch plates will bang together causing the car to stall.
The car stalls because you are placing a moving object (engine side of clutch) onto a stationary clutch plate. The skill you need to master is to find where the two clutch plates just touch. Once found, keep your left foot still until the car moves slowly forward. Once you feel the car moving, you may gently raise your let foot off the pedal. That is you now driving the car. The point at which the clutch plates touch is called ‘the biting point’. Mastering this is essential to become a safe and confident driver. More information can be found here Passing your driving test does not need to be difficult. It must be the only test in the UK that you know the answers before you start.
Car control – stalling an engine
There are two main reasons that you stall a car engine. The first one is when you are moving off from a stationary position. The text above informs you on how to drive away smoothly without a stall. The second reason a car stalls is when stopping. When stopping you press the middle pedal (B) the brake with your right foot, this is also a slowing down pedal. In normal driving you operate the brake pedal to slow down before eventually stopping by pressing it as much or as little as you need to get the result you are after. Within reason, the earlier you press the brake pedal the better, it warns other drivers following you that you might be stopping. It does this by automatically turning the red stop lights on, which are at the rear of the car.
Once the car has stopped it will stall unless you press the clutch pedal down to the floor. The reason for the stall is that the two clutch plates are still operating together and are making the car drive forward. The correct process for stopping would be to slow down using the foot brake and keeping the clutch up. When the car is about a car length or so from the point at which you intend to stop, press the clutch fully to the floor.
To pass your driving test it is essential you master the clutch. It will build your confidence enormously. Be a smarter safer driver for life.
Read the road situation at every opportunity. Reading the road means understanding the other road users, who they are (driver, pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist etc) and what they are either doing, or you anticipate what they might do.
Understand the correct process for a) Driving away from the kerb, b)Correct use of mirrors, c)Correct use of signals, d) Correct use of gears – [thoughts: You may know how to signal, but when do you actually signal? This alters according to where you are. You may know how to look in a mirror, but do you know how to act upon what you see?
Dealing with other drivers at a crossroad when you both arrive from opposite directions at the same time. What about approaching a mini-roundabout which has a road to your left & right together with a road straight ahead; you arrive at this roundabout the same time as 3 other cars on these other roads. Who has priority?
On your test the examiner is seen to be writing on his report sheet. Does this distract you because you think you have failed?
Do you think on your test what the examiner might be thinking, or do you just get on with the drive?
If you are reading this as a learner driver who has failed their driving test because of nerves, maybe you recognise a few of these points.
Nervous Learner Drivers Can Pass First Time
In answer to the question “Why do so many learner drivers fail their driving test because of ‘nerves’? ”
Short answer: Because of a lack of understanding of the basic principles. Understanding the basic principles of any topic you are being examined on will always reduce exam nerves. Confidence comes from knowing your topic well.
If you know your topic well, you will still have nerves, but they will not show up in the way you drive. Focusing on the drive and all of the procedures you need to carry out, will stop the nerves from showing.
We offer one week intensive driving courses as a means of re-enforcing these principles. An intensive course though, is not the answer to overcoming test nerves for new drivers, in fact in can do the opposite. Our intensive courses are carefully balanced to help the individual student & an intensive course is a great way to boost confidence when used correctly.
Intensive driving lessons are they a good thing? This is a Money Supermarket website headline. Below is a comment I wrote on the moneysupermarket.com website.
Intensive courses the old fashioned way : First lesson on Monday test on Friday no longer work for most people. Engineers, siblings of a farmer would be the exception. Intensive courses when used as part of an overall learning to drive programme can save a lot of money and time. Whilst producing a very safe driver at the end. A 5 day intensive gets the process of car control into the nervous system with outstanding results. The following 5 days after a few days, or even a week off, the new driver blossoms out. The new driver is more than ready on this next 5 day course to take on traffic and challenging situations. A test should never be booked whilst taking an intensive course. It blocks the learning process. Once things start to come together a test cancellation is then booked with extremely good results.
As you can see, I am firm believer that intensive driving courses, when used as part of an overall driver training programme are an excellent way to save money and also save time. The really important added bonus though is the built in extra safety factor, over and above taking weekly lessons.
Are intensive driving lessons a good thing? Safety Observation
From a road safety viewpoint, intensive driving lessons produce a safer, more experienced driver. When a pupil makes a driving mistake. There is plenty of time to practice the correction. On weekly driving lessons it is usually left until next weeks lesson to try again. But this is often forgotten now by both instructor and pupil.
Repetition of good driving skills raises the standard of driving and produces a very safe and confident driver.