How Much Do You Know About Manual Transmissions?


By: J. Reinoehl

7 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Some people drive them for the challenge, while others find them to be not worth the bother. Love them or hate them, they have been a solid part of car history since the beginning. Test exactly how much you know about manual transmissions by taking this quiz!

How do you start a manual transmission when your battery is dead?

“The Volkswagen Beetle could kill a rain forest at 400 paces whereas today's Golf trundles around with tulips coming out of its exhaust. The gas coming out of a Saab is actually cleaner than the air that went in.” –Jeremy Clarkson in Born to Be Riled


In which country are manual transmissions rare?

Manual transmissions make up only about 4% of new car sales in the United States. In Japan and European countries, over 80% are manual transmissions.


Where is the clutch pedal located?

“I build my cars to go, not to stop.” –Ettore Bugatti


At which RPM would you want to shift to the next gear if you were driving for fuel economy?

The best fuel economy is achieved by getting through all the gears as quickly as possible. Usually this means shifting at about 3000 rpm.


A manual transmission usually weighs…?

“Ferrari never spoke to me again. He was a great man, I admit, but it was so very easy to upset him.” –Ferruccio Lamborghini


Which one transfers power from the engine into the transmission?

Clutches are a combination of metal and a friction material. Some clutches are also made from ceramics.


What does a tachometer measure?

“Strive for perfection in everything. Take the best that exists and make it better. If it doesn’t exist, create it. Accept nothing nearly right or good enough.” –Henry Royce


When you change the clutch on a manual transmission, what else should you do as part of that job?

You must drain the transmission oil when you are changing the clutch, so it is a natural time to replace the oil. In addition, the flywheel will have buildup that should be ground off to ensure the maximum life of your transmission components.


What tool would be helpful to change the oil in a manual transmission?

“Under pressure, the mouth speaks when the brain is disengaged and, sometimes unwittingly, the gearshift is in reverse when it should be in neutral.” –Henry Ford


On average, how much more power will you get out of a manual transmission as opposed to an automatic in the same car?

A manual transmission diverts all the engine’s power to the drivetrain. Although modern automatics have improved, they still cannot beat the amount of power delivered by an equivalent manual driven properly.


What is the opposite of downshift?

“Now, I know what they're trying to say, look, you got two gears for quick acceleration and three for good fuel economy. But actually, the acceleration wasn't that good and the fuel economy wasn't that good and you have nothing in the middle. This one has an automatic, which makes it, well... worse.” –Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear December 26, 2004


What is drifting?

Manual transmissions allow you to drift without slowing down. Although you can drift in an automatic transmission car, it is slightly more difficult and involves different techniques.


Which of the following fluids would you use in a manual transmission?

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” –Henry Ford


What does “red line” mean?

All tachometers have a red line, although where that line starts depends on the car. If you allow the RPMs to increase to the red line, you risk blowing your engine.


What does “three on the tree” mean?

“The fact is, I don’t just drive to get from A to B. I enjoy feeling the car’s reactions, becoming part of it.” –Enzo Ferrari


If a tachometer says “4,” what is your rpm?

Tachometers measure the crankshaft’s rpms (revolutions per minute). They are measured by thousands.


How do you shift gears?

“And there's this: The gaiter at the base of the gear lever [on the Honda NSX-R]. Usually leather, it's been replaced with fine mesh to save 10 grams. I could've done that wearing a thinner pair of socks.” –Richard Hammond on Top Gear December 28, 2003


What is the quickest method of braking in a manual?

Using the engine to slow down the car is quicker than only using the brake. It is especially useful on hills.


At which RPM would you want to shift to the next gear if you were driving for performance?

“It’s a never ending battle of making your cars better and also trying to be better yourself.” –Dale Earnhardt


How frequently should you change standard manual transmission oil on average?

Some cars with manual transmissions come with instructions to never change the oil but this is generally because the maker did not expect the vehicle to outlive the oil (synthetics can make it 200,000—300,000 miles). Unlike automatic transmissions, you can change manual transmission oil even if you are long past the recommended change time, without causing further damage.


What is a clutch alignment tool?

“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work. Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed.” –Henry Ford


What double clutching?

Using the clutch twice as you upshift or downshift prevents some wear to your transmission components. To properly double clutch, you depress the clutch and shift into neutral, release the clutch, and then depress the clutch a second time to shift into the next gear.


What is gear ratio?

“A dream without ambition is like a car without gas—you’re not going anywhere.” –Sean Hampton


Why shouldn’t you rest your hand on the gearshift when you aren’t shifting?

If you place your hand on the gearshift, you put some pressure on the transaxle forks that shift. This wears them down sooner. It is also safer to have both hands on the wheel as much as possible when you are driving.


Inside the average manual transmission, what does the countershaft do?

“Change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day.” –Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear (November 2, 2008) about the difficulties of driving a truck and the forklift driver recently jailed for killing five prostitutes.


In a five-speed manual transmission, which gear should you be in to minimize wear when you are sitting at a stoplight?

If you have the car in gear at a stoplight, you must keep the clutch pedal depressed or you will kill the engine. Depressing the clutch pedal puts constant pressure on the clutch.


What does “riding the clutch” mean?

“Nothing ages your car as much as the sight of your neighbor’s new one.” –Evan Esar


What does the term heel-toeing mean?

The heel-and-toe technique is primarily used by racecar drivers when they are downshifting for corners and curves. Although it is tricky to learn (and involves using all three pedals in quick succession), it reduces wear and allows you to maintain better control throughout the turn.


The transmission is also called what?

“If you restore a car and you’re making money, then you’re doing it wrong.” –Jay Leno


Which of the following laws regarding manual transmissions would you encounter in some of the United States?

Many of the states do not have driving laws specific to manual transmission vehicles, but several do not allow drivers to coast in neutral down a hill.


What is a symptom of a clutch that is slipping?

“Whether you believe you can or not, you’re right.” –Henry Ford


What is rev matching?

Rev matching ensures smooth downshifting. By tapping the gas pedal to increase the speed of the engine to that of the transmission after a downshift, you don’t cause the car to buck when you release the clutch.


When driving a manual in the United Kingdom, what must you do at every stoplight to pass the driving test?

“Float like a Cadillac. Sting like a Beemer.” –Mater (Cars, 2006)


What is floating gears?

Because of the number of gears semi-truck drivers have to go through, they sometimes use a method of shifting without using the clutch to save them legwork. Although clutchless shifting is easier to do correctly on a truck, it causes severe wear to the internal components of the transmission (especially on car transmissions), whenever it is done instead of allowing the clutch to do its job. You can float gears on a car, but is trickier and even more dangerous for the transmission since there are more components and the gear ratios are greater.


How do you release the parking brake on a manual transmission car?

“The thing is, it's a gearbox, okay? It has one job to do! One job! Pull the lever... ‘Am I a pencil? Am I a cauliflower? Am I a nuclear power sta— I'm a gearbox! Oh, heavens, I'm gonna swap some cogs around!’” –Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear (May 11, 2003) about the transmission of the Smart Roadster


Explore More Quizzes

About Zoo

Our goal at is to keep you entertained in this crazy life we all live.

We want you to look inward and explore new and interesting things about yourself. We want you to look outward and marvel at the world around you. We want you to laugh at past memories that helped shape the person you’ve become. We want to dream with you about all your future holds. Our hope is our quizzes and articles inspire you to do just that.

Life is a zoo! Embrace it on