The clutch is a vitally important component of your car that allows you to select and use the different gears in your transmission.
It’s a component that is constantly receiving friction, though, and will therefore wear out eventually – requiring a replacement.
Below is a series of driving tips that can help you improve the lifespan of your clutch.
Don’t “ride” the clutch
For many drivers, especially inexperienced ones, it can be tempting to leave your foot on the clutch between gear changes, especially when you know you’re going to be changing gears again soon.
An example of this is when you are pulling away at a green light, and you know you will be shifting through the first few gears in relatively quick succession.
Another example is stop-start traffic, where you may be constantly shifting between first, second, as you inch along.
The consequence of this is that resting your foot on the clutch depresses the peddle, even if only slightly, and this adds friction to the partially disengaged clutch, increasing the wear on it.
Likewise, a common mistake made by new drivers is to not push the clutch pedal all the way down when changing gears.
Another small but frequent mistake is to take too long with the gear changes themselves – a few extra seconds may not sound like a lot, but it quickly adds up over the lifespan of your car.
Sit in neutral when stopped
Many drivers leave the car in first gear with the clutch pedal depressed when waiting at a junction, rather than putting the car in neutral.
This is convenient, but keeping the clutch engaged adds otherwise unnecessary strain on it, and it’s recommended that you put the car in neutral if you expect to be idle for any reasonable length of time on the road.
Use the handbrake
Related to the previous point, many motorists will often leave the car in gear when temporarily stopped on an incline.
If you have arrived at a junction at the top of a steep hill, it is better to engage the handbrake and put the car in neutral while you wait, rather than use the clutch.
This is especially important since, depending on the incline, you may need to let out more of the clutch in order to keep the car stationary, leading to a lot of wear and tear.
Similarly, leaving the car parked while still in gear will put strain on the clutch disc, even if the engine is turned off.
You should always use the brake to secure the car, regardless of any incline, as this is generally safer and is also better for the longevity of your clutch.
Think ahead with your gear changes
One of the most important ways you can reduce the wear on your clutch is to not use it as much, which means minimizing gear changes.
Where possible, always try to anticipate changes in your speed ahead of time. This goes hand-in-hand with a more defensive driving style, which in addition to being safer than a more aggressive driving style, should help you to save petrol.
It also means you shouldn’t need to change gears as much.
As an example: if you see that an upcoming traffic light is red, you may drive up to it at speed, brake, change down, and then change back up again as the light turns green. This is inefficient both in terms of fuel consumption and clutch usage.
Rather, you can reduce your speed, often without even needing to change down a gear, and then arrive at the light as it turns green without needing to stop, leading to better fuel efficiency and less time spent using the clutch.