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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,
As of yesterday I am the proud owner of a 2013 challenger R/T with 5.7 and 6 speed. Absolutely love the car. Spent like 5 hours driving around last night in it just enjoying every second of it.
However, I'm still fairly inexperienced at manual cars. I drove one for about 2 months when I owned a 97 BMW Z3.
I got pretty smooth in that car and could shift pretty well based on what other experienced manual drivers would say.
the challenger is a different beast however. Much heavier and bigger car with a good chunk of power over the bmw. I currently struggle to shift smoothly in the car. Sure I can rev it up and pull it to about 3200-3500 and bang through the gears no problem. However I really want to master the manual in this car and make it seem effortless. I understand this takes some time and definitely some miles but what practices can you all recommend? Talk to me like it's my first day driving YOUR manual challenger. How would you want me to drive your baby? Also give me some pointers on things/methods to practice that might be able to point out what I'm doing wrong/can improve on. Thanks!
 

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2020 Dodge Challenger Hellraisin Scat Pack
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Sorry but I wouldn't want you to drive my baby if you haven't mastered smooth shifting after 2 months of driving a BMW and now after whatever time you have spent with your Challenger R/T.

I'm no car God but I think I mastered driving a manual after a few sessions -- no where near 2 months' worth -- in my new to me first car which was a manual. I have driven cars equipped with automatics before and the car replaced my Honda CB-750 motorcycle which was of course equipped with a manual transmission.

It is a matter of timing of operating the gas pedal, clutch pedal, and shift lever in sync. I really can't describe this procedure as I have been driving so long and driving manuals so long it has just become errr automatic with me.

One thing about driving a manual is if you don't get it right the transmission will let you know.

(Years ago I worked with a guy who as a side line to writing software owned along with his wife some dance studios. They were both excellent dancers. There was a lunch meeting at a restaurant across town and I drove my Mustang with this guy as a passenger. Just driving normally not showing off or anything and I happened to catch out of the corner of my eye the co-worker staring at my feet watching as I worked the gas pedal and clutch and the shift lever as I drove away from stop light after stop light and rolled up to stop light after stop light.)

For you practice should have you shifting with no drama.
 

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As with learning most motor skills (as in physiological), usually the best approach is to practice improving one thing at a time. Hold all other variables constant and work on the one thing till you get it. Then pick the next thing to work on.
Eg, you could pick a specific rpm and try to hold the gas fixed there and practice feathering the clutch. Or, you could pick a specific point of clutch engagement (or a very consistent rate of clutch engagement) and practice feathering the throttle. If things get buck-wild you can always stab the clutch back in and give it a little gas to recover sanity and try again. Don't be shy or worry about what any observers might see or think. They simply don't matter. It's you vs yourself and your own skills at work here.

It took me probably a year to get a really good launch down with my HC on the stock clutch. Just driving it was easy (lots of manual experience prior), but to get a really good launch--maxing out traction--riding the edge of spinning took a lot of practice--finding the right rate of clutch engagement and how much to feather the throttle all at the same time.

Then when I installed the new clutch and HRB (BBG units) I not only could barely manage to drive, it was like I had never driven a manual before. Took me months to get it smooth again, and I'm still only about 98% consistent--I still get caught bucking occasionally. But I found some remote place and just did endless starts and stops for hours the first week until I felt at least capable of handling traffic. Launching is still something I have to work on. But I approached it all by changing only one thing at a time until it all dialed in. It's only been a few weeks since I started practicing not depressing the pedal all the way for my shifts (my HRB is set with engagement very high in the travel)--again, just one isolated change at a time. Now I'm getting it pretty good--I can do it at different speeds and different amounts of throttle lift. Worst case scenario I forget and still floorboard it and have a slower shift.

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.
 

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All manual vehicles I've owned were Honda Civic Si, Honda Civic hatchback, and a Acura Integra. The Honda gearbox is much more forgiving than the Tremec 6060 in the Dodge Challenger. I adapted to it within the first week and the most important thing I've learned is the Challenger weighs 4000+ pounds with a much more heavy duty clutch & flywheel to handle the 400 ft/lb torque. With all the previous manual cars I've driven, I never had to give any gas on a flat surface to get it moving forward. In the Challenger, it was absolutely necessary to rev a tiny bit in first gear to get it rolling. The second thing I've adapted to was the notchy shifting. Honda's are well known for smooth silky gear boxes. Our tremec's are high performance and are meant to be driven with "force". I say force because it does take a bit more effort to get it into the desired gear. And my tip to you is when at a stop in first gear, give the gas a slight love tap right before you release the clutch pedal into it's catching point. It took me few days to synchronize this technique. Doing this helps me not over rev. This works on flat surfaces only, dont do this uphill lol
 

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There will be no effortless shifting with a Challenger. The TR6060 is a notchy trans. Its going to take more force than any BMW or Honda you've driven. Thats just how they are.

My biggest complaint is the inconsistency in the clutch pedal. Feels like the grab point moves around a bit. Supposedly the clutch delay valve is what causes this on some cars but I haven't removed mine yet so I can't confirm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There will be no effortless shifting with a Challenger. The TR6060 is a notchy trans. Its going to take more force than any BMW or Honda you've driven. Thats just how they are.

My biggest complaint is the inconsistency in the clutch pedal. Feels like the grab point moves around a bit. Supposedly the clutch delay valve is what causes this on some cars but I haven't removed mine yet so I can't confirm.
I see that makes sense, I've read about the clutch delay valve as well. I've been considering the delete myself. Yea im not grinding the gears or anything but the bmw I could shift with a single finger from 1st all the way thru the gears to 5th and not encounter any resistance hardly. So I guess I just figured I was driving the challenger incorrectly since it seems so clunky. But I love the feeling to some degree as well bc it goes well with the "muscle" feel of the car. Thanks for sharing!
 

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As with learning most motor skills (as in physiological), usually the best approach is to practice improving one thing at a time. Hold all other variables constant and work on the one thing till you get it. Then pick the next thing to work on.
Eg, you could pick a specific rpm and try to hold the gas fixed there and practice feathering the clutch. Or, you could pick a specific point of clutch engagement (or a very consistent rate of clutch engagement) and practice feathering the throttle. If things get buck-wild you can always stab the clutch back in and give it a little gas to recover sanity and try again. Don't be shy or worry about what any observers might see or think. They simply don't matter. It's you vs yourself and your own skills at work here.

It took me probably a year to get a really good launch down with my HC on the stock clutch. Just driving it was easy (lots of manual experience prior), but to get a really good launch--maxing out traction--riding the edge of spinning took a lot of practice--finding the right rate of clutch engagement and how much to feather the throttle all at the same time.

Then when I installed the new clutch and HRB (BBG units) I not only could barely manage to drive, it was like I had never driven a manual before. Took me months to get it smooth again, and I'm still only about 98% consistent--I still get caught bucking occasionally. But I found some remote place and just did endless starts and stops for hours the first week until I felt at least capable of handling traffic. Launching is still something I have to work on. But I approached it all by changing only one thing at a time until it all dialed in. It's only been a few weeks since I started practicing not depressing the pedal all the way for my shifts (my HRB is set with engagement very high in the travel)--again, just one isolated change at a time. Now I'm getting it pretty good--I can do it at different speeds and different amounts of throttle lift. Worst case scenario I forget and still floorboard it and have a slower shift.

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.
A much better reply than mine. Good job.
 

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what I've observed - I recently drove a friend's recently acquired '17 Camaro SS - with the same Tremec TR6060 - but it has different gear ratios and final drive vs. what R/T and Scat Pack models use
- I let him drive my '16 SPS (which has a Barton shifter) - the Camaro has the OEM shift linkage
We drove the cars back-to-back with each of of us taking turns in both to compare

What I've noticed - I have had a M6 Challenger since Nov '08 - 1st gear is short. It was noticeable compared to how the Camaro's M6 ratios.

In order to have a smooth transition in Challenger, you have to stay in 1st longer and higher revs than what you'll do going 2nd > 3rd, etc
so even if driving leisurely, rev to 2,500 - 2,800 rpm and that upshift to 2nd will feel smoother, the other gears can be shifted @ 2K, if you are taking it easy.

The Camaro was easier to shift 1st > 2nd since 1st gear isn't geared as low - and in the same rpm in a given gear, you run higher MPH than the Challenger.

His comment was "wow, notchy shift feel" - which the Barton has a more mechanical feel and the very short throws. Mine has 12K on it at least, so the bushings have worn in and its more smoother than when it was first installed.

It is much tighter on the inside of the Camaro - I hadn't driven the 6th Gen and its tighter than the 5th Gen (pre '16) on the interior and the belt line of the glass is very high up (I'm 5' 11") so that's a big difference.

Another friend has a '17 Corvette - I'd say it has better visibility than the Camaro
 
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