Many pupils learning to drive for the first time, dread stalling the car! Maybe that’s why some pupils opt to learn on an automatic. There are some simple techniques though, which will help you avoid stalling.
What is stalling?
Firstly, what do we mean by stalling? Simply put, this is when the engine stops running requiring a restart. That’s all very well, but most pupils want to know why and how can they stop it!
To understand why a car stalls though, we need to understand the role of the clutch in all this.
What does the clutch do?
Simply put, the clutch connects and disconnects the engine. Therefore, early on in the first driving-lessons, the pupil soon discovers ‘stalling’: when they forget to de-clutch or depress the clutch when braking to a halt. The stall happens because as the engine is still connected to the now stationary wheels via the clutch plates, the engine always loses the tug or war between them!
Another situation where a stall is more likely for the novice driver: is the hill start. This is because, a car moving up and away on a hill, requires more power and a good biting point (the point at which the clutch plates connect and the engine begins to be connected to the wheels). Therefore, if the pupil forgets to get a good biting point and put on the necessary extra gas and power, then the car is likely to roll backwards or stall!
Often though, pupils are caught out by the car simply stalling on a very slight incline. Many modern tuition vehicles with small petrol engines are very sensitive; if the pupil forgets to put a bit of gas on before releasing the clutch or brings the clutch up too fast with no gas at all – then the engine just can’t cope and stalls.
Again, stalling may simply take place because the pupil is worried that they are going to stall! In other words, because they are nervous or apprehensive, they rush and bring the clutch up too fast – and of course they stall! (A bit of a negative feedback loop!)
Another effect, is what I call ‘kangarooing!’ This is when the car nearly stalls: jerking violently backwards and forwards. This effect happens because the pupil’s foot is moving up and down on the clutch pedal in response to the jerking motion. The answer is to just de-clutch.
How to avoid stalling
To be honest though, one reason most pupils stall is that they don’t use the handbrake enough and ‘move off on the fly’ ( bringing the clutch up slowly until the car begins to move).
If instead, you use the handbrake to find the biting point accurately, all you need to do to move off, is release the handbrake and keep your clutch foot still until you are in motion. This is especially useful if you want to move off rapidly say at a busy roundabout because its more reliable and less prone to stalling.
What do I do when I stall?
Lastly though what do you do when you do stall? Firstly, its not the end of the world so don’t panic. Of course, make sure that the car has actually stalled: to do this look at the rev-counter. Is it on zero revs and is the red oil lamp on the dash board on? If so, then you have definitely stalled!
Secondly, make the car safe. In other words, engage the handbrake to stop rolling and restart the engine to restore power.
In conclusion then, to avoid stalling: plan and think about every move off by setting the appropriate gas and biting point and decide whether you are going to move off using the handbrake or on the fly.
Amber ( a trainee hairdresser) recently passed her driving test with me after around 50 hrs of tuition.
She had not had any previous lessons and passed first time with only 5 minors. This is what she had to say about my lessons:
“I did my lessons with Paul, would highly recommend. Doesn’t just stay local which gives a really good experience to driving different areas”
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