Hawkwell Driving School - Driving lessons in Hockley, Rayleigh, Rochford, & Hullbridge.    Tel. 01702 204674

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Controls of the car basics:

The controls are shown in the following photographs. There are a few important things to know:

The accelerator (gas) controls the speed of the engine, not necessarily the car: For the gas to control the speed of the car you have to be in gear, with the clutch above the biting point. The car will keep going if you come off the gas while you are driving along, and keep going, and keep going.

The clutch controls the speed of the car when pulling away, by using the biting point. This is about half-way up in the clutch pedal travel, and is the point when the engine begins to power the wheels. Pulling away is normally done by holding the biting point, for about 5 seconds, once the car starts to move, or almost until you want to change up into 2nd gear. Sometimes however pulling away can be achieved more smoothly by easing the clutch down just as you begin to move off. 

Try to have your heel on the floor whilst holding the clutch at the biting point, This gives much more fine control. Imagine using the gas pedal without your heel on the floor!

Easing the clutch down is necessary to control the speed when you are pulling away and turning the steering, such as emerging from a junction. If you do not, then you may go too fast and not have time to straighten the steering.

When performing a hill start the clutch must be carefully held at the biting point: It should be brought up until you feel the car begin to lift. Once you can feel the car lift you know that you've taken the weight, and it won't roll backwards. You can then release the handbrake gradually, trying to balance the clutch against the handbrake, not allowing the car to leap forward. As you begin to move away keep controlling the clutch, for longer than you would on a flat start, to prevent the car stalling.

The clutch is also used when changing gear (see below), and to disconnect the engine before stopping.

When you are driving along your foot should be completely clear from the clutch. Any pressure on it at all takes out all the free play, which can wear the release bearing (expensive).  Cover the clutch at low speed, when it might be needed in a hurry.  But, once into 2nd gear it is best to take your foot away..

The footbrake controls the braking of the car. It works on all four wheels, and is 3 times more powerful than the handbrake (MoT standards). To stop smoothly it is best to aim to stop about a car length before you want to actually stop, and ease off the brake smoothly for the last few metres.

The handbrake is only a parking brake. It is used when parking: For security whilst waiting, and for hill starts so that you can take your foot off the footbrake without rolling backwards. The handbrake works by pulling a cable that works the back brakes; the more you pull it, the more effect it has.
Note:   A front wheel drive car (such as our Fiesta) will pull away with the handbrake partially applied, or even fully applied.

The gear lever is used to change gear. It has a strong spring that, if you let go, locates the lever between 3rd and 4th. You can only feel this spring in neutral. When selecting 1st or 2nd, push the gear lever to the left against the spring. When you want 3rd, move the lever from 2nd into neutral, let the spring locate it in the correct position, then push the gear lever forward into 3rd. For 4th just move the lever back- no sideways pressure. To select 5th, into neutral, pull to the right, move to the front.

Using the gears:
Speeding up: You start off in 1st, then 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th. Changing gear each time the engine revs (rev-counter is to the left of the speedometer) exceed 2000rpm. When slowing down you can change down gears one-by-one, or jump to the gear you want. If you do jump down gears you must be going at the correct speed for the gear you want before selecting it. If you are trying to get into 1st gear, and it won't go in - you are probably going too fast. Slow down more and try again.

When changing gear: the sequence for changing up is:

for changing down, whilst slowing down:

Make sure that you remain on the brake until you are going slowly enough. You can bring the clutch up while you are on the brake as long as you are not too slow for the gear you are in. If you are too slow the car will vibrate, and protest. If it does push the clutch down again.




Teaching people to drive for over 30 years! Professional driving lessons with
Alan J Barker BA DSA ADI. Covering Hockley, Rayleigh, Rochford, & Hullbridge areas