Frustrated driver stalling car

Reasons for Stalling a Car

Stalling is one of the most frustrating aspects of learning to drive a manual car. Stalling can occur for various reasons and for some learner drivers, it can seem like an impossible complication to overcome. Here we’re going to look at the most common reasons for stalling a car along with some tips on how best to avoid stalling. The most common reasons for stalling a car are as follows:

  1. Stopping without pressing the clutch
  2. Moving off in the wrong gear
  3. Raising the clutch too quickly when moving off
  4. Changing up to a gear that’s too high
  5. Not enough gas when moving off
  6. Moving off on an uphill slope (hill start)

Stopping Without Pressing the Clutch

The first most common reason for stalling a car is due to the driver stopping without pressing down the clutch. This is due to the driver either completely forgetting to press down the clutch before stopping the car, or pressing the clutch down too late.

If you do occasionally forget to press the clutch before stopping, then don’t worry, the more you practice, the easier it becomes and you will eventually press the clutch down without thinking about it. If you find that you press the clutch down too late, try to imagine two car lengths from where you want to stop and press down the clutch there.

Moving Off in the Wrong Gear

The second most common reason for stalling a car is where the driver attempts to move off in too higher gear. It’s fine to move off in 2nd gear if you’re moving off downhill, but at any other time, you should move off in 1st gear. Moving off in the wrong gear often occurs because the driver thinks they’re in 1st gear, but are in fact in 3rd gear. 1st gear is located very closely to 3rd gear and it’s easy to get them muddled up.

A good method in preventing wrong gear selection is to use the palming method. The palming method for changing gears is a technique specifically used to help drivers select the correct gears.

Raising the Clutch Too Quickly When Moving Off

Raising the clutch too quickly when attempting to move off is a very common reason for stalling and frustrates many drivers. This often occurs simply due to a lack of clutch control experience, or when a driver is moving off at a busy junction and wants to get moving quickly.

If you frequently stall due to bringing the clutch up too quickly, it helps if you have a basic knowledge of what the clutch actually is and what it does. To do this, read the learning car clutch for beginners tutorial.

Once you understand the basics of the car’s clutch, you can then move onto understanding the clutch bite point – see what is the clutch bite point. You always need to raise the clutch pedal slowly through the bite point. You can raise the clutch quickly until you reach the bite point and after the bite point, but you need to do it slowly just as the car begins to move off. Hold the bite point for about 2 seconds to allow the car to start moving – see how to find the clutch bite point for help with this. After that, you can fully raise the clutch.

For better clutch control, always rest the heel of your left foot onto the floor and to gain a better ‘feel’ of the pedal, wear flat shoes with a thin sole.

Changing Up to a Gear that’s Too High

The most common example of changing up to a gear that’s too high is just after the driver has moved off, then from 1st gear, they accidently select 4th gear and stall the car.

Before taking driving lessons, if you have a friend or family’s car that you can use, it’ll be beneficial if you practice gear changes. You don’t need to start the engine, just depress the clutch and practice going from 1st up to 5th, 5th back down to 1st and then then practice block gear changing.

After you’ve got the hang of changing gears while looking at them, keep practicing, but without looking at the gear lever. Practice using the palming method, then you’ll be sure to know where all the gears are and you’ll can also be confident of selecting the correct gears.

Not Enough Gas When Moving Off

This is particularly important for petrol cars, and that’s not giving the engine enough gas (accelerator) when moving off. If you’re learning in a diesel car, it’s quite easy to move off, even without any gas. But in a petrol, if you don’t provide the engine with any gas, you’ll likely stall. This often becomes apparent due to new drivers often having an older petrol car as their first vehicle.  Always remember: A, B, C – that’s Accelerator, Brake and Clutch. Get the car ready and into gear, then:

  • A: Give the car a little gas. Press the accelerator pedal till you get about 1 and a half on the rev counter and hold it there. If it’s up hill, you might want a little more.
  • B: Release the handbrake.
  • C: Raise the clutch pedal to the bite point.

Moving Off on an Uphill Slope (Hill Start)

If you’re not used to moving off uphill, also known as a hill start, then you will likely attempt to move off as you normally do. The issue here is that due to moving off uphill and gravity, it means your car’s engine has more work to do than when you move off on a level surface.

The fix is simple, all you need to do is provide the engine with extra power, or ‘gas’ as instructor’s call it. Rather than 1 and a half on the rev counter as you would do on a level surface, a little more gas before moving off at around 2, to 2 and a half depending on the steepness of the hill. That’s all you need to do to stop stalling during a hill start.

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