Wisdom > Ask

Is resting your hand on the stick shift really that bad?

Not really, but there’s a reason why you shouldn’t

A manual transmission gives you more control over the car, but does it need to be babied? PHOTO BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Though the manual transmission isn’t that popular these days, purists and enthusiasts would often prefer driving a car with a stick. It just adds to that connection between man and machine. A sense of having more control of the vehicle.

My late dad taught me how to drive using a manual (in a Volkswagen Sakbayan). He was a very thorough and strict driving instructor who would make me very conscious (and nervous) of my driving. For the record, he was an engineer for reputable companies and a very good mechanic.

There’s no harm in looking cool like Dominic Toretto, but keep both hands on the steering wheel, please. IMAGE FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES

He never once mentioned that resting my hand on the shifter was bad for the transmission, but he did make sure that I didn’t do so. After each shift, he reminded me to grip the steering wheel with both hands even at a dead stop. Safety first before everything, as he would say.

So, is resting your hand on the stick really bad for the transmission? Apparently, there has been some debate on this topic from both car enthusiasts and technicians. Out of curiosity, I did some digging myself and came across a very informative video from DriveTribe on YouTube.

In case of emergencies, it’s better to have both hands on the wheel for more control as to where you are going. PHOTO FROM MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

The presenter explained in technical detail how popular opinion has stated that it isn’t recommended to rest your hand on the gearstick as it would eventually adversely affect the mechanism inside and beneath it. Thats a school of thought shared by my fellow VISOR writer Frank Schuengel.

To put this debate to rest, veteran mechanic Edd China (of Wheeler Dealers fame) comes on to explain that this common habit (yes, I’m guilty of this) won’t cause any mechanical issues. He did, however, state that you shouldn’t be resting your hand on the gearstick, and should instead keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

The way I see it, whether this habit may or may not cause mechanical issues with a car’s gearbox, that is no longer the relevant topic here. The bottom line is safety. As always, driving discipline and safety should supersede everything when we are on the road (something gravely lacking in our motoring culture). All habits that contribute to reducing safety and discipline must be corrected immediately and appropriately.

Manskee Nascimento

Manskee is a music-loving petrolhead who specializes in car care. He finds peace in long drives to and from his home in La Union.