Once upon a time, learning to drive a stick shift was a rite of passage. Now, it's a dying art. According to U.S. News and World Report, as little as 18% of Americans know how to drive a manual.
Driving a stick shift isn't easy at first. Stalling every time you shift, and don't even try stopping uphill. But once you get the hang of it, it's fun. And many car enthusiasts will tell you, they prefer driving a manual over an automatic. But not many new drivers are taking the time to learn on a stick.
"I think it's a dying trend just because it's easier to drive an automatic. There are more cars out there, they make more cars that are automatic," said Dave Eiguren, a driving instructor and owner of Eiguren Driving School in Boise.
Eiguren offers stick shift lessons to those who already know how to drive an automatic.
"You know right now the kids, when their grandpa dies or they find just the right car that's a stick shift, then they're calling me saying, 'Now that I know how to drive, I want to know how to move and I want to move this car and it's a stick.' Or a lot of times when there's a marriage, two cars come in, one of the people has to learn how to drive the other car," Eiguren said.
Head to a car dealership and you'll have a tough time finding a car with a clutch pedal. At Peterson Auto Group, manuals make up just 5% of the total inventory. That means of their 2,500 new and used cars, only 125 of them are manuals.
"It's a turn off most of the time unless they're looking for it. But some will love a car and then say, 'Wait a minute what is that thing in there? I can't drive that,'" said Brady Peterson, General Manager of Peterson Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac.
Several companies still offer sticks in select models, and Peterson says you can make a special order. Sports cars also still draw customers looking for manuals.
Manuals were once known for their durability, better gas mileage, and cheaper upfront cost. But as automakers learn to make the automatic transmission less expensive and more dependable, many drivers are leaving the shifting to the car.
"I love it. I have a manual and an automatic and I prefer the manual. It's an experience. Every night I go on a drive and I prefer to take the manual out. So it's dying, but I wish it wasn't. It's so much fun, it is," Peterson said.