Top 6 Tips to Keep Your Car’s Clutch in Good Shape
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Your vehicle’s clutch performs a variety of crucial roles. First, it allows you to change gears by stopping the power transmission to the drive shaft. It also slows down the car during instances when you need to engine brake. Finally, the clutch is also designed to prevent engine stalling while you’re in gear at slow speeds.
In short, if your vehicle’s clutch gets damaged, it can affect multiple aspects of driving. It’s easy to find high-quality replacement clutches, sure, but it can also be bad for your finances if you need to make frequent purchases. Thus, the best thing to do for both your driving safety and your budget is to try and keep the clutch in good shape for as long as possible.
Here are some simple driving tips for clutch maintenance:
Don’t Ride the Clutch
Some people develop the habit of resting their foot on the clutch pedal. This is called “riding the clutch” and it’s bad for the internal components. This is because even slight pressure on the clutch pedal can compress the pressure plates, resulting in unnecessary friction. In turn, this results in premature wear and tear. Just keep in mind that the clutch pedal is not a footrest and you’ll be able to prolong its lifespan.
Fully Step on the Clutch
There are only two “modes” for the clutch pedal: fully pressed or not at all. When you don’t step on the clutch properly when shifting, the gears may grind and end up getting damaged or broken. To prevent this, step on the pedal all the way and make sure you’re in the next gear before letting go. This not only keeps the clutch components in good shape, but it also helps create a smoother driving experience.
Don’t Build Up then Dump RPMs
Unless you have a race car that’s specially built for heavy-duty, high-speed driving, it’s a bad idea to rev your vehicle at a red light and then “dump” all those RPMs as soon as the light turns green. Going up to the highest RPM range already does quite a bit of damage to the clutch system components; “launching” your car further harms your car, particularly the input shaft and pressure plates.
Therefore, no matter how tempting it is to showcase your driving skills while on an empty road, it’s still best to stay at low RPMs at stalling point. Then, gradually remove your foot from the clutch when it’s time to move forward.
Use the Handbrake on Steep Inclines
Overusing the clutch, in general, is bad for your car because it can result in heat build-up. Fortunately, this is easy to avoid. For example, if you’re driving on hills and steep inclines, don’t fully rely on your clutch. Instead, use the handbrake to help you keep your car in position. This way, you won’t put a lot of load stress on the clutch.
By utilising the handbrake, gradually increasing the RPM, and slowly easing off the clutch and handbrake, your car will move forward much more smoothly. It might sound a little tricky, but you can definitely master this technique after some practice.
Don’t Step on the Brake and Clutch Simultaneously
Some drivers step on both the brake and clutch pedals while braking, which is, needless to say, is a bad habit. This actually minimises braking power, as the action takes the load away from the engine. It also causes unnecessary and premature wear and tear.
Bottomline: don’t step on these two pedals at once. If you want to slow down, use the brakes or let go of the accelerator gently to coast. If you need to shift gears, use the clutch. Simple, right?
Top Up the Clutch Fluid
There are plenty of fluids and oils that your car needs to run properly. Aside from the engine oil, brake fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid, you also need clutch fluid (which is brake fluid, placed in the clutch reservoir). If you don’t have enough clutch fluid, you might not be able to press the pedal completely. It’s inconvenient at the very least, and dangerous at worst.
The ideal level of the clutch fluid is just below the cap of the reservoir. Check it often and top it up with brake fluid whenever necessary. There should also be a recommended schedule in the car owner’s manual about when to fully top up the clutch reservoir. If you can’t find any, a good benchmark is every 20,000 kilometres.
Last but certainly not least, familiarise yourself with warning signs of a bad clutch and if a new one is needed. Take note of the car’s handling feel and pay attention to any noises, vibrations, and other strange movements. If anything doesn’t feel right when you’re changing gears, slowing down, or parking, don’t hesitate to bring your vehicle for an inspection. In the end, it’s all about your driving comfort and safety.