For the dwindling few skilled in their use, stick shifts offer many advantages over automatic transmissions. It’s far cheaper to replace a clutch than an automatic. Stick shifts also provide drivers with greater control. They allow for faster acceleration, assuming properly timed shifts. They can also reduce fuel consumption.
Here are five fuel-saving stick shift techniques:
1. Throw in the clutch and coast on a downhill. Avoid using the brake as much as possible. If you can maintain the proper speed coasting downhill with the transmission disengaged, there’s no point in keeping the engine in gear. That only burns more fuel. The more you hit the brake, the sooner you’ll have to put the engine back in gear.
2. Don’t rush toward a red light or stop sign. Instead, throw in the clutch and coast. Not only does this save fuel, it also reduces brake wear. What’s the point of keeping your foot on the accelerator, just to slam on the brakes at a stop sign?
3. This is related to the previous tip. Try not to come to a full stop when approaching a red light. Throw the clutch in. Coast. Time your approach so that you still maintain some speed when the light turns green. The less you slow down, the more fuel you will save bringing your speed back up.
This is more an art than a science. It requires good timing. If you slow down too soon, you’ll step on the gas to catch the light, and possibly miss it. If you don’t slow down soon enough, you’ll end up stopping. This, of course, also burns more fuel.
Eventually, you’ll get a feel for how each light in your area is timed. Other factors are important too, such as how many cars are stopped behind the red light as you approach.
4. Of all five fuel-saving stick shift techniques listed, here’s the only one not dependent on coasting. Cruise near your engine’s optimal speed for fuel economy. Don’t keep the engine over-revved. More revolutions per minute mean more, fuel-burning explosions in your engine’s cylinders. Don’t lug or under-rev the engine either. That demands a heavier foot on the gas pedal to accelerate, or climb uphill.
5. When stuck in traffic, don’t step on the gas just to keep up with the car ahead of you. Instead, judge the traffic farther down the road. If all you see are cars crawling along, allow for a reasonable gap ahead. Then barely hit the accelerator. Unless you’re heading uphill, throw in the clutch and coast.
These fuel-saving stick shift techniques work for me. I calculated over 26 mpg for my Ford Ranger’s last fill-up. When I’m not paying attention, that figure drops about five mpg.
As my user name implies, I'm a long-time runner, and a lazy bum who would rather write than do real work for a living. I enjoy listening to roots music, such as James Brown and Elmore James, and discovering good, but little-known, movies and shows on Netflix. I live in the Seattle area.