As a rule, you should replace the clutch in a manual car every 30,000 to 100,000 miles. However, if you don’t treat your car right, you can end up wearing it out a lot sooner. You may unconsciously have a number of bad habits that are harmful to your car’s clutch. Here are a few habits to avoid.
Putting the Car in Gear While Stopped –
When you’re at a stoplight, or otherwise not moving for at least the next 20 seconds or so, then your car should be in Neutral. Leaving it in gear, or putting it in gear too soon (before the light turns green) will cause damage. Whenever you come to a stoplight, put the car in Neutral and take your foot off the clutch pedal until it turns green.
Riding or Slipping the Clutch –
The only time the clutch pedal should be pressed is as you’re shifting gears. Don’t leave your foot on the pedal in anticipation of your next shift. That includes while you’re driving, as well as while you’re stopped and in neutral. It’s easy to let your foot stay on the pedal without even thinking about it, or to drive with the clutch sort of half pressed. This is called riding the clutch, and it causes damage over time. Some people also leave the pedal half pressed between shifts deliberately, in an attempt to go faster. Not only does this not actually work to build speed, it causes overheating. To save your clutch, be aware of where your foot is and when you are and aren’t shifting gears, and only press the clutch when you need to.
Leaving Your Hand on the Gear Shift –
Just like leaving your foot idly on the clutch, it’s easy to leave your hand idly on the gear shift while driving, in anticipation of the next gear. Doing this results in undue pressure, which can keep the rotating collar from rotating and cause significant damage.
Clutch Balancing –
When you’re driving up a hill or incline, your car needs an extra boost of power to keep it moving forward. The clutch gives it more power, so the temptation is, when driving uphill, to use the clutch, in combination with the accelerator. This WILL give the car more power. It will also cause the clutch to slip and overheat. When driving on a hill, use the break, not the clutch.
Shifting Gears Too Fast of Too Slowly –
Some drivers, particularly ones inexperienced with a manual transmission, will shift gears very slowly. This will cause many of the problems listed above that come with lingering on the pedal when you shouldn’t, such as overheating and other damage. Likewise, you shouldn’t release the clutch too quickly. This gives your car a jerky motion as it moves, and can also cause stalling, both of which will damage both the engine and the transmission over time. It should always be a smooth, fluid transition from one gear to the next. Look for the clutch’s bite point, when the two plates meet. Right at the bite point, the engine’s sound will change, and the front of the car will lift up a tiny bit. With practice, you’ll be able to hear and feel the bite point of your car easily, which will help you make smoother, more fluid gear shifts.
Taking care of your clutch and breaking your bad habits is important. Not only will it help your clutch last longer, it will give you a better, smoother driving experience overall. And when you do finally need to replace your clutch, you can call us, to make sure the job is done right.
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