Tips to improve your car's clutch life, and make sure that it doesn't wear out prematurely

BAD habits that will destroy your car’s clutch

Admit it or not, but the world’s slowly moving towards automatic transmission and ditching the good old manuals. However, there is still some time before the complete shift happens and therefore there are several things you need to know about a manual transmission in order to operate them perfectly. In a manual transmission, the clutch is the most important and the only link between the engine and gearbox. It is also the part that takes most of the beating resulting from improper gearbox and clutch lever usage. Depending on one’s driving style, the clutch needs to be replaced after a period of time as it goes through much wear and tear during its life. However, there are many ways or what you can say as bad habits that destroy the clutch much earlier than the expected life. Here are 6 bad habits that can destroy the clutch and should not be done in any scenario.

Slipping the clutch for more pick-up

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Many consider that not release the clutch pedal completely and accelerating gives them a better start off the line. Though the combination of half engaged clutch and accelerator will let the engine rpm to rise quickly, it does not mean that all the energy is transferred to the transmission. There is a very fine balance between the clutch and the accelerator which one has to achieve through practice in order to do perfect launches. Usually, doing so results in clutch slip which causes overheating and heavy damage to the clutch plates while making them unusable much before their expected life.

Moreover, slipping the clutch does not make your car accelerate faster but in turn, only slows you down. This is because the transmission is not getting the full amount of power processed out by the engine due to incomplete clutch engagement. The loud sound lent out of the engine may trick you into thinking that the car is going faster but that is not the case. For the best starts and accelerations, release the clutch smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Pro Tip: If you are trying to do a wheelspin run, that means slipping of the clutch is involved. However, to get the best spins that are also longer in duration, release the clutch quickly after reaching the sweet point when the wheels start to spin. Do note that every wheelspin you do shortens the life of the clutch substantially.

Riding the clutch

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Riding the clutch is quite a common practice by many and is often committed by new drivers, though we have seen many experienced drivers doing the same too. Riding the clutch means driving the car without releasing the clutch pedal completely. In a more enlightening manner of explanation, when the clutch is slightly depressed even when the car is already in motion and has gone past the biting point of the clutch, it is called riding the clutch. The slight pressure on the clutch lever in such condition causes the clutch mechanism unable to engage fully, which leads it to slip a bit which in turn leads to unnatural wear of the clutch.

Resting the foot on the clutch

A pedal is a simple and inexpensive piece of metal that provides immense comfort to the clutch operating foot and hence does not come with the majority of cars. Maybe, manufacturers consider all car owners to be chauffer driven and hence skip on this. The lack of a dead pedal leads many people to rest their foot on the clutch instead which is a pretty bad practice. Even though diesel cars have a slightly harder clutch and hence you can afford to rest your foot on it, make sure that your foot is not depressing the clutch pedal at all. The case of petrol cars is different and they have a light clutch. Even the slightest weight on the pedal will cause it to disengage the clutch partially, causing it to slip and wear quickly. It also affects fuel efficiency negatively as the engine’s power does not get used completely.

Pro Tip: If you have this habit of resting your foot on the clutch intentionally or unintentionally, make it a habit to rest your left foot on the floorboard instead. If your car comes with a dead pedal then consider yourself lucky and start using it. If not, the floorboard is the saviour. It may seem a little difficult initially but you will get the hang of it quickly.

Releasing the clutch too soon

The panel of the holy trinity (accelerator, clutch, brake) you see above needs perfect harmony in their operation for the car to deliver its best. Most of the professional drivers learn the art of operating the clutch perfectly early on in their lives. Many people who drive cars daily release the clutch too soon which makes the car jerk, which on the other hand puts excessive pressure on the engine and the transmission. This again leads to the overheating of the clutch leading to its deterioration. The clutch is actually a pressure plate that transfers the engine power to the transmission. The engine flywheel is always revolving when the engine is on. When the car is stationary and the clutch is in neutral, the transmission and the engine flywheel are disconnected.

When the first gear is engaged and the clutch is released slowly, the clutch plates start to engage, which in turn moves the transmission and car moves ahead. If the clutch is released quickly, the transmission, which is stationary will apply opposite force and the clutch will wear off much quicker than normal usage. Releasing the clutch quickly can also do serious damage to the transmission.

Pro Tip: Driving car for a substantial period of time will lead you to catch the exact biting point of the car’s clutch. Some clutches have an early biting point, while some catch hold of the desired gear at the very end. Knowing the bite point precisely leads to overall better control of the car and reduces the chances of you jerking or stalling the car.

Using the clutch pedal during traffic signals

Keep the clutch pinned down knowing that you’re not going to move in the next 20 seconds is like killing the clutch yourself. If you know that the car has to remain stationary for some time, stop and put the car in neutral. Doing so disengages the clutch completely and also lets you relax your leg or a while. Keeping the clutch pinned down for long periods continuously can cause damage the ball bearing in the clutch assembly. Even though the bearings can be replaced but that can be done only after the whole set-up is taken out. As a rule of thumb, the less your cars vital components like the engine, gearbox among others are opened, the longer they are likely to run problem free.

Clutch balancing

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Clutch balancing, as its name suggests, happens when you try to hold the car on an incline by using clutch and accelerator, which actually should be done by applying the brakes. Doing so causes the clutch to quickly overheat and even leads to instant clutch failure sometimes if the clutch is already worn out. Not only it brings down the life of the clutch drastically, but doing so also puts unnecessary strain on other moving parts. Though the clutch transfers enough power to the transmission in order to keep the car from rolling backwards, it also causes the clutch to slip and heat excessively at the same time, which in turn cause serious damage.


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