How To Use A Clutch To Prolong Clutch Lifespan

Clutch and clutch pedal overview

If your car has a manual gearbox, your car will have a clutch. As you might have experienced in the past, a clutch is particularly susceptible to wear. Especially if it is not used properly. If you remember clutches cost usually cost upward of 200 pounds, excluding labour it’s clear it makes sense to reconsider how one uses the clutch. Therefore let’s have a look at how to use a clutch sensibly to prolong its lifespan.

Taking account of the following tips you might be able to improve clutch life. In turn, it could be that you are able to minimise the intervals at which you will need a costly and time-intensive clutch replacement and possibly saving you many Pounds over the lifetime of the car. Taking care of how you use your clutch on your daily drive will mean that it will stay in the best working order for as long as possible.

When changing gear

One of the key points to minimise wear to the clutch is to remember where the biting point of the clutch is. This is the point where the clutch plates meet; essentially the point when the car starts to move when you slowly get off the clutch pedal after having depressed it. If the clutch has reached its biting point it is thus important you release the pedal as to not inflict unnecessary wear upon it through clutch slippage. Remember, the biting point is different on every car.

When changing gear this would mean that, if you want to change gear, you rapidly depress the pedal, change the gear with your gear stick and slowly release the clutch again. Making sure it does not travel too slowly, causing clutch slippage, or too quickly causing an unsmooth and clumsy gear change. Over time you and through regular driving, you will establish an understanding of where the biting point is. Changing gear correctly reduces the amount of time the clutch discs are engaged.

Under braking

To save fuel and extend clutch life it is important you make use of the engine braking when you lift off the accelerator and brake. The generally accepted way to operate your clutch under braking is not to use it at all to just before the point that the engine starts to struggle and cut out. The basic rule here then is to depress the clutch if your car’s speed is too low for the gear selected.

That said, under heavy braking one would usually depress the clutch at the same time as the brake. Ensuring, on the one hand, that the engine does not cut out and, on the other, that you retain better control over the car under braking (fewer load shifts to cope with).

When ‘coasting’

Coasting is another way to slow the car down (very slowly). By ‘freewheeling’  the car along the road fuel can be saved. In this case, you would depress the clutch fully, to disconnect the engine from the rest of the drive train. For short periods you could just do this by depressing the clutch pedal, for longer periods it is important to change into neutral and let the car roll that way.

Engine braking

In the same sense, you can use engine braking, to slow the car down. In this case, you would not touch the clutch at all to retain the connection between the gearbox and the engine. This sort of braking is especially useful when rolling downhill, as using the brakes when rolling down steep inclines continuously is not advisable. The brakes can quickly overheat, leading to brake fade, meaning that when you really need them the brakes will not stop the car adequately or at all. Moreover, braking on slopes wears out the brake pads much quicker. Of course, when you find the engine chokes, depress the clutch and change down a gear.

When driving

During driving school, a useful way to learn how to operate the clutch quickly is to “ride” it. This means that your clutch pedal is pressed lightly down permanently to allow a faster gear change. In reality, this is a bad habit you should stop immediately. Keeping your foot pressed on the pedal and therefore the clutch discs engaged at all times puts additional strain and friction on the parts. A better way is to learn to read the road and anticipate behaviour ahead of time. The sooner you can identify a potentially dangerous or tricky situation, the sooner you can act accordingly.

When stopping

It is tempting to keep the clutch engaged either fully or at the biting point when you’re stopping at a traffic light or are sat in stationary traffic. This, however, puts more strain on the mechanism and as a result will add to faster wear and tear. The better way is to change gear into neutral, engaging the clutch swiftly rather than keeping under prolonged strain and friction.

Bottom line

In the end, it comes down to engaging and disengaging the clutch only when truly necessary. Moreover,  if you do (dis-)engage it, do carefully. Always try to limit the amount of time you do not fully depress the clutch pedal (as the clutch slips it will chafe against the flywheel, gently wearing it out). When you can, do not touch the clutch at all. It will not only extend the lifespan of your clutch but will also save fuel and brake pads. It requires a little practice, but you’ll be able to reap the rewards fairly soon in hard Pound savings.

Of course, this is just an impression of methods that can be used, it is by no means exhaustive. As with most things in life, experiment and find the right way for you. Different people prefer different methods, therefore always follow the guidance by a manufacturer and driving experts to prolong the lifespan of the clutch and ensure a safe driving experience.

Should you experience problems with your clutch, and if it prevents you from changing gear properly, it might be time to replace it. Clickmechanic is here to help in that case, get a quote from us here.

Happy driving!

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Photo: Ford (via)

 

How Do I Know If My Clutch Needs Replacing?

A clutch is a friction disc and it’s one of the most important components of a manual transmission car. It’s responsible for transferring the power from the engine through to the transmission, so it can drive the wheels.

Over time, a clutch can wear out and begin to lose performance. When that happens, symptoms such as noise, vibration, and slippage will start to occur. If left unchanged, a clutch will eventually wear out, and fail to transfer any power to the wheels. There are a few easy tests to see if your clutch is fully functioning, or if it is time for a clutch replacement.

Test 1: Does the clutch engage properly?

With the vehicle running, step on the clutch and put the vehicle into gear. It should do so without any grinding or popping sounds. If the clutch isn’t engaging properly then it likely needs to be replaced. Pay attention to any signs that the clutch is slipping – this could cause the engine to shake, hesitate or rev whilst driving.

Test 2: Driving off in first gear

Put the vehicle into first gear, and drive off as usual. When releasing the clutch, watch for any signs that your clutch isn’t fully functioning. These include slippage, grinding or squeaking noises or burning smells. If you spot any of these, it’s a sign of excessive wear and your clutch may need to be replaced.

Test 3: Driving off in third gear

This is something we’ve all done by accident by selecting the wrong gear. However, for the purposes of the test, it’s best to do this off the road.

From a stop, try to set off from third gear – you will need to release the clutch very slowly and rev the engine. The car should move away, though slowly. Again, if you notice signs of slippage, noises or burning smells then you should get your clutch looked at and possibly replaced.

If you’ve got a problem with your clutch, or you’re unsure how to diagnose it then we can help. Make a booking for a clutch replacement and we’ll send you a qualified mechanic to get your car back into top condition.

Happy driving!

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5 Ways To Prolong Your Clutch’s Lifespan

Clutch and clutch pedal overview

 

If your car has a manual gear box, your car will have a clutch. Clutches are infamously susceptible to wear, and getting a mechanic to replace it can cost upwards of £500!  Luckily, by making a few tweaks to your driving style, you can drastically increase the lifespan of you clutch, saving you both time and money in the long run. Lets take a look.

 

1.     Avoid “riding the Clutch”

If the clutch is partially disengaged, when it could be engaged or disengaged they you are known as “riding the clutch”. Essentially it means that you will be adding unnecessary stress is created between the flywheel and the clutch disc, which speeds up the wear of this part. Resting your foot on the clutch pedal is an example of riding the clutch; if you kick this habit, you could save £1000s in the long run

 

2.     Don’t use your Clutch to slow down

You really shouldn’t use your clutch to slow down. That’s what your brake pads are for. And a brake pad replacement on a Ford Focus would cost you around £60. A clutch replacement is closer to £400! You wouldn’t use a laptop as a hammer would you?

 

3.     Don’t just find the biting point, know the biting point 

For learner driver finding the clutch biting point is an easy introduction getting your car moving without an embarrassing stall. But once you’ve thrown away those learner plates (and furry wing mirror dice) it time to step it up a gear. Rather than finding the biting point, slowly release the clutch pedal, hovering over the bite point before lifting. The manoeuvre is a little trickier, but will vastly increase the longevity of your clutch.

 

 4.     Be decisive with your clutch control

As with riding the clutch, sloppy clutch control can add unnecessary wear on you clutch. If you don’t engage or release the clutch confidently, then you can end up hovering in the middle, which creates additional stress on your clutch plate. A little practice can go a long way, so next time try thinking about the movements you want to make on the Clutch pedal before you make them.

 

5.     Make full use of the parking brake

Leaving your car in gear is an easy way to stop your car from rolling down the hill , but using this as the sole technique to prevent a run away vehicle puts a lot of strain to the clutch. Next time, use the parking brake in addition to leaving your car in gear, as the parking brake can help carry the load.

 

The Bottom Line

In the end it comes down moving between engaging and disengaging the clutch only when truly necessary. It will not only extend the lifespan of your clutch, but will also save fuel and brake pads. It requires a little practice, but you’ll be able to reap the rewards in the long term.
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Clutch making a funny noise or doesn’t feel right? Our mechanics are here to help! Start your booking here. 

If you’re not sure what is wrong with the car book a diagnostic inspection – one of our mechanics will come out to work out whats wrong with your vehicle. If you’re sure that you need a Clutch Replacement, select that option from the repairs opting during the booking process.

How Not to Treat Your Car: Blowing Up the Clutch

DodgeNeon

To start of, this is not a weekly advice column, dear blog reader. We see #HowNotToTreatYourCar as a place to make some precautionary comments and display a selection of  ‘cars gone wrong’ videos from the web. Take note though, who knows, you might learn something (if you don’t like huge repair bills that is). Have a laugh too, if you feel like it.

We start of with a rather silly chap in and his Dodge Neon (apparently already missing a window?), see video below. First of all, this guy wants to do a burn out, despite his car being front wheel drive. Simple advice in that case; don’t. Simply because it’s never going to look as good as a burn out in a rear wheel drive car. Moreover, seeing that the Neon has ABS, you’ll never go a long way in your burn out, blowing up the clutch on the other hand is an easy thing to do. Still, that didn’t prevent this guy from trying, for some reason..

Result: A failed burnout, failed clutch, broken crankshaft and demolished engine block.

Verdict: Avoid entirely. It’s no fun demolishing your drivetrain like this.