Save Gas when Driving a Car With a Manual Transmission

While driving a car with a manual transmission may initially be more difficult than driving an automatic, it does have its advantages!


  1. Learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission.
  2. Now that you know how to drive the car, begin driving as you normally would.
  3. Shifting to a higher gear allows the car to achieve a higher top speed. However, that doesn't mean that you "have" to drive faster. Try it- when doing around {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}}, in third gear, shift up to fourth as you normally would, but don't press the accelerator down far enough to speed up.
  4. Note that while you are still traveling the same speed as you were before, your engine is now rotating at about 1,200-1,500 RPMs (this varies from car to car) less than before you shifted.
  5. Because your car's engine is running at a lower rate, it uses less gasoline!
  6. Drive a little faster uphills, and your car can stay in higher gears, longer. Not too fast, though.


  • Just because your engine is running at a lower rpm doesn't mean it uses less gasoline. Using a high gear at a low speed means a lower rpm so it should use less gas, but if you need power to accelerate in a higher gear, more gasoline is injected in order to move the pistons faster. It's the same as going really slow in a high gear on your bicycle and trying to accelerate, you will be laboring a lot to move the bike faster, even though the pedals are moving slowly. So don't labor the engine, it doesn't improve fuel economy. Whenever more than a slight amount of acceleration is needed when in a high gear (relative to the speed), it saves fuel to downshift to a gear suited to the needed acceleration
  • Shifting a few hundred RPMs earlier than normal will also save gas because you aren't winding the engine up so much.
  • Don't tailgate. Leave an adequate following distance. You will spend a lot less time braking/accelerating and overall wearing yourself and your car out reacting to those idiots in front of you.
  • Slow down and predict traffic signals. You can reach a speed that will get you stopped at the next signal, or still be rolling when it turns in your favor, and coast most of the distance. Most of the (normal) wear on clutches is in 1st gear from a stop, and if you can avoid stopping, you save fuel and mechanical wear and tear.
  • When at a stop, only give the car enough gas to maintain its idle RPM when you are easing off the clutch. This way you are not revving the engine up very high while you are barely moving.
  • To a degree, the manual transmission will save money inherently. It subtracts about $1000 from a new car with an automatic, and doesn't need routine maintenance to change its hydraulic fluid and filters. The predictive shifting you do with your eyes will always be better than the reactive shifting that all automatic transmissions use (i.e. you see a hill and down-shift shortly before; an automatic transmission down-shifts after it's already on the hill and bogging down).
  • Even when 100% of the power appears to be coming from gravity on a downhill slope, most normal cars burn more fuel in a lower gear than in a higher gear, or idle. It seems to be related to keeping the engine at its normal operating temperature and/or making sure it instantly has power (doesn't hesitate) when you're ready to accelerate again.
  • It's possible to drive out of gear (free-wheeling) in a lot of situations. Your car is out of gear much of the time anyway (when stopped, between gear shifting), and this is just expanding the number of situations where you leave it in neutral. You can 'coast' between traffic signals and such that you expect to change. This will take all of the engine and transmission drag out of the picture. This is also safer (when used appropriately) in rainy conditions as it can prevent hydroplaning. There are many places in this world where you can leave the car in neutral for a up to a mile or so and maintain a safe speed.


  • Never hold your position at a signal by modulating the clutch, no matter how soon you think the signal will change. That's what the brakes are for.
  • Freewheeling (leaving the car in neutral) on downhill slopes is illegal (though poorly defined) in many jurisdictions, and can be very dangerous on steep grades. Know your local traffic laws and your local roads and conditions.
  • As with all manual transmissions- DON'T try to move forward from a stop in a gear other than first or possibly second- You'll stall the engine (and if you don't stall, you might burn out the clutch)
  • A clutch is a terrible thing to waste. A clutch in a passenger car should last {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} or more. Driving hard and abusing the clutch can become very expensive. When in doubt, put wear on the brakes. All four of them can be much less expensive than the cost of replacing one clutch.
  • When the car is in gear and gas is not being fed to the engine by depressing the accelerator pedal, so that it is coasting perhaps down a hill, in a fuel-injected car no gas or very little is being used, thus saving fuel.
  • Using a higher gear than necessary has dangers, too- the higher gear the car is in, the less acceleration the car has. BE CAREFUL!

Things You'll Need

  • A car with a manual transmission that is registered (and has passed inspections if your area requires them).
  • A valid driver's license.
  • Always wear your seatbelt!

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