A question from a racerchick on Clutch
Question: I have recently begun
driving a car with a standard transmission.
I have always driven automatic in the past.
The car is an 83 Volvo with 66,000 miles on
it. It is a good car according to my
mechanic, however, my clutch went out today.
I was wondering if it could be due to
something I have been doing wrong. Is it
true that you should always press in the
clutch when you press in the brake or could
that cause a clutch to go out?
Answer: No, it is NOT necessary to
depress the clutch each time you step on the
brake. In fact you really don't want to do
it. When the clutch is depressed the engine
drops to idle, then when it is re-engaged it
has to spin the engine back up to the wheel
speed using the clutch disk. This cannot
only cause undue wear on the clutch, but can
cause a loss of traction at the drive
wheels, and even a loss of control. Racing
instructors call it "trailing- clutch
oversteer". Body shops call it a gift.
The clutch pedal should only be used at two
1. When the shift lever is in motion
2. When the car has almost rolled to a
complete stop (less than 5 mph.).
Other tips to increase clutch life:
Do not rest your foot on the clutch pedal
when driving. This can wear the disk and can
even destroy the thrust bearing on the
crankshaft leading to premature engine
Do not "slip" the clutch on upshifts or down
shifts, just let it out and wait for it be
fully engaged before adding power. Try to
slip it as little as possible when starting
out from rest.
Dont ever hold the car on a hill by slipping
Learn to "heel and toe" downshift, not only
does it prolong clutch life, it sounds
really cool and impresses your friends.
However when done wrong it looks and sounds
like a cat choking on a bone.
For more information on how to drive a
standard transmission check out our article
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