Driving a manual is inarguably more exciting and engaging than any automatic transmission, be it a CVT, a torque converter, or even a DCT. But unlike an automatic, a manual transmission requires care and attention to perform at its best.
Have you ever thought of the strain that you put on your clutch and how that affects it? Something as common as starting and stopping intermittently in traffic can harm both your gearbox and clutch. This is true for all manual cars, whether it is an old used Honda Accord or a brand new Mustang.
Here are some of the driving habits that damage your clutch and the dos and don’ts that you need to know to ensure the longevity of your clutch:
- Do not rest your hand on the gear shifter when you are driving. This might sound trivial, but it does have some negative effects. When you put your hand on the shifter while driving, it hinders the action of the rotating collar which eventually harms your gearbox and clutch. However, it can be avoided if you just keep yourself in check.
- Shifting gears slowly can also result in your clutch wearing out. Always make sure to press the clutch pedal and immediately change gears. The longer you take to change your gears, the worse it is for the clutch.
- Launching a manual car from a standstill at very high RPMs can also harm your clutch. Although it might seem thrilling, it can’t be worse for your clutch. The truth is that, unlike sportscars that feature a heavy-duty clutch and an overbuilt transmission, most regular cars can’t cope with the sudden flow of torque which will eventually lead to your clutch burning out sooner or later. This is especially true for older cars. So, unless you want to replace your clutch frequently, you should avoid launching your car.
- You also mustn’t put your car in high gear and drive slowly as this puts strain on both your engine and transmission, eventually leading to the clutch wearing out sooner. You must match your gear to the speed you are doing. If you are driving slowly, you should be in a lower gear, if you are on a highway and need to speed up, you should shift to a higher gear.
- When you are stopping the car momentarily, make sure that you don’t engage the clutch pedal. Once again, this will have adverse effects on your clutch. Instead, you can just put the car in neutral and step on the brakes if you are on a slope.
- Pressing the clutch pedal momentarily while driving the car should also be avoided. You shouldn’t engage your clutch for anything else than shifting gears. Always remember that the more you engage your clutch, the faster it wears out.
- These are the driving habits that you should get rid of for the longevity of your clutch. But what if your clutch has already started to wear out? Well, in that case, here are a few common symptoms that might indicate that.
- If your clutch is slipping, it’s a clear indication that your clutch has already worn out to an extent. How would you detect a clutch slippage? It occurs when the engine RPM rises, but the actual speed of the car does not. This happens when there is not enough friction in the clutch, and it’s not able to deliver the power to the transmission, and subsequently, to the wheels.
- The clutch is responsible for separating the transmission from the engine, and whenever you press the clutch pedal, it briefly disconnects the engine from the transmission. If you are experiencing some trouble while shifting gears, the clutch might be the culprit. Moreover, if shifting gears requires more effort than usual, it means that the clutch has started to wear out.
- When you press the clutch pedal and let go, you might hear a chirping noise. If you hear this sharp noise, it is a safe bet that your clutch has already worn out.
- If you can feel your engine shuddering, it’s another indication that the clutch is experiencing issues. This especially happens when your clutch is filled with grease or oil. However, shuddering can also be caused by other factors, such as a faulty spark plug, or a clogged air filter. But still, if you experience shuddering, you should get your clutch checked.
Normally, a clutch does not have a specific “life span”. If it is taken care of, and if you drive carefully, it can last for a lot longer than you intend to keep your car for. With proper care, a clutch can even last the lifetime of your car, but if not, then it certainly will need replacing sooner than later. Also, the quality of the clutch varies from one car to another. A more reliable car will present you with lesser problems than an unreliable one. It also depends on the conditions you drive in, the climate and weather conditions also play a major role in the longevity of the clutch.
There are quite a few factors that determine the life span of your clutch. But under normal driving conditions and habits, a clutch can last for a very long time.
You might also want to get your car checked by a mechanic if you are experiencing any of the symptoms that we have mentioned above. If you let any minor issue slide, it can turn into something severe and might cost you thousands of dollars. However, if you stick to the recommended driving techniques, you don’t have to worry about your clutch wearing out anytime soon.