The trend of automatic transmissions is still in its catchup phase in India. However, automatic transmissions have been around since 1939 when GM introduced the Hydramatic transmission. With the advent of high-range electric cars, the conventional gearboxes are being sidelined even more. There is still some time though 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. There are many 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
It’s a common notion that not releasing the clutch pedal completely and accelerating results in a better start off the line. The combination of half-engaged clutch and accelerator leads to a quick rise in the engine but this does not imply that all the energy is transferred to the transmission. For perfect launches, professional drivers maintain a very fine balance between the clutch and the accelerator which is achieved through practice.
Slipping the clutch deliberately causes overheating and heavy damage to the clutch plates while making them unusable much before their expected life. In fact, doing so does not make your car accelerate faster but only slows you down. The reason behind this is that the transmission does not get the full amount of power dished out by engine due to incomplete clutch engagement. The loud sound and tire smoke might be pretty good for a party trick and may lead you into thinking that the car is going faster but that is not the case. For the best starts and accelerations, always release the clutch smoothly and as quickly as possible.
Pro Tip: For a wheelspin run, slipping of the clutch is necessary. To get the best spins that are also longer in duration, try and release the clutch quickly after reaching the sweet point when the wheels start to spin. However, every wheelspin shortens the life of the clutch substantially.
Riding the clutch
One of the most common and basic mistakes associated with manual transmissions, riding the clutch is often committed by new drivers. However, we have seen many experienced drivers doing the same too. Riding the clutch translates into driving the car without releasing the clutch pedal completely. Diesel cars do have a harder clutch but laying your feet on the clutch in a petrol car damages the clutch plate and result in lower fuel efficiency. 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
Most cars don’t come with a dead pedal which leads to many people resting their foot on the clutch which is a pretty bad practice. As mentioned before, diesel cars have a slightly harder clutch and hence can take the load of a lightly kept foot but always 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 and even the slightest weight will cause the pedal to disengage the clutch partially. This leads to slip and wear quickly and also affects the fuel efficiency negatively.
Pro Tip: If you have a habit of resting your foot on the clutch, you should start to rest your left foot on the floorboard instead. Best is to use the dead pedal if you are lucky enough to have a car that comes with it. If now, 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.
Simply said, holding the car on an incline by using clutch and accelerator is called clutch balancing. While such manoeuvres should be done by applying the brakes, clutch balancing causes the clutch to quickly overheat and can lead to instant clutch failure in some cases, especially if the clutch is already worn out. Clutch balancing brings down the life of the clutch and 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.