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Dealing with Stalls

How to Cope When You Stall the Car

Once you've got the hang of the car a bit, a new worry pops up for nearly every learner driver - stalling the car with traffic behind you, turning at a junction, or entering a roundabout. Your On Fire Instructor will tell you exactly what to do when this happens, but it's nice to know how it all works beforehand.

Stalls nearly always happen in first gear, but sometimes you may stall because you're trying to pull away from a near standstill due to the fact that you've forgotten you're still in second, or even third gear.*

Bear in mind that it's practically impossible to stall an On Fire DS3 when it's going above 10mph - you may race the engine because you've gone into second instead of fourth at 40mph, or make it go, 'ur-hurh-ur-hurh-ur-hurh' because you're doing 9mph in fifth, but it won't stall.

First Thing to remember is DO NOT PANIC. If you panic, you'll be put in the On Fire for Driving Headlock later and given a right doin' :-) [ This happened to me. Don't recommend it. Ed. ] Your natural instinct will be to hurry up and get going again, but a second stall awaits you there. Going slowly will give you time to gather your wits.

Second Thing to remember is that experienced drivers stall their cars - just a wee bit too fast bringing up that clutch, and the machine goes,'DUFF.' The drivers around you, even if they've only got half-an-eye on the road, will know you've stalled because your car makes a funny sort of 'duh' jerk, and rolls to a stop if on the flat. They don't want to run into the back of you, so they'll generally give you a bit of room, and time, to sort yourself out. You have 'L' plates on, yeah? You'll be forgiven, because they do it themselves, even if they're pulling faces and pretending they don't. ;-)

Here's how to deal. DO NOT RUSH:

Beginning Stall Drill

Get the footbrake on so the car is safe.
Handbrake on, release footbrake.
Clutch to floor.
Car into neutral.
Deep breath (v.important).Turn the ignition key a fraction back, then forward, restarting the engine.
Clutch to floor.
First gear.
Find bite.
Handbrake off.
Pick up where you left off.
Remember to breathe.

Chilled Stall Drill (Whilst swearing lightly)

Footbrake, then handbrake.
Clutch to floor, first gear.
Ignition on.
Find bite, handbrake off, continue.

Obviously if you stall in a particularly awkward situation once you’re used to this ‘stall drill’, your On Fire Instructor will intervene, and talk you through it. However, knowing roughly what to do in advance is good. And as you become more experienced, you’ll be able to restart from a stall while the car is still rolling, but this requires judgement according to the traffic and terrain. S’all simply practice and familiarity.

*Oh, and if you do manage to pull away in second gear, even third, it means you’re really developing your skills and a ‘feel’ for the car and what the engine wants, with a fine subtlety on the clutch. Don’t do it on your Test, but …  ;-)

The On Fire for Driving Team