The water storage tanks present in your home have massive capacities of around 300-500 litres. The only thing that is preventing all that water from freely flowing through the pipe network is a small device we are familiar with called the tap. Similarly, the cars we drive are capable of producing strong power outputs which just start at 50 kilowatts for small cars. Here also a tap-like device is required to control the transmission of power based on the situation. The device performing that function in your car is the clutch.
The clutch present in your car is a multi-purpose device. It is needed to stop power transmission to the drive shaft so that you can change gears. It prevents the engine from stalling when you are in gear at slow speeds. Lastly, it also functions as a brake to slow down the car during engine braking. With so many key functions under it, the clutch system demands proper usage and a lot of care. So, in this article, we will take a look at some simple tips and techniques on how to make a car clutch last long.
A lot of people have this bad habit of resting their foot on the clutch pedal. This is a really bad habit as even the slightest effort will cause the pressure plates to start compressing. This, in turn, will make some of the friction plates to come in contact and cause unnecessary wear and tear. So when you are using the clutch never use it as a footrest. The clutch pedal should always either be fully pressed or completely untouched. This is arguably the simplest method on how to make a car clutch last long.
Never Slow Down with the Brake and Clutch Simultaneously
Again a commonly observed bad habit that people have is to press the brake and clutch pedals simultaneously, while braking. Not only does this cause unnecessary clutch usage but you are also sacrificing a lot of braking force by taking the load away from the engine. So when you intend to slow down, only use the clutch when it’s necessary to shift gears. Keeping the clutch pressed as soon as you brake could decrease your rate of slowing down and potentially cause an accident.
Use the Handbrake on Inclines Not the Clutch
When you come to a dead stop on an incline and wish to move forward, what do you do? This is a tricky situation but can be overcome easily. The important thing to remember here is to not use the clutch’s force to keep the car in position. By doing that you won’t have enough juice left to move forward without jerks and you are putting a lot of load on the clutch as well. Instead, use the handbrake and take your foot off the brakes. Then slightly increase the RPM and gradually release the clutch and handbrake while increasing the throttle at the same time. This technique sounds complex but will come to you naturally with some practice.
Race Launches are Fun but Also Detrimental
Even if you don’t have a prospective career in F1, building up the RPM and dumping the clutch is just mad fun. If you have a decently sporty car, above average driving skill and you’re the only guy standing on the red light with an empty road ahead of you, the temptation is just excruciating. Sadly as much fun as it is, launching the car puts a whole lot of stress on the clutch.
Firstly, going to 4000-5000 RPM range with the clutch fully pressed, itself does a lot of harm to the entire clutch system. Then releasing all that force in a flash does damage to the pressure plates and the input shaft going to the gears as well. So while moving from a signal, always keep the RPM as low as you can above the stalling point. Remove your foot off the clutch gradually and not in a hurry. However, if you can afford frequent replacements for your clutch, there is no harm in indulging in some fun 😉
Avoid Engine Braking
The final tip on how to make a car clutch last long concerns the controversial topic of engine braking. Many people do use engine braking to slow down their cars. While it can come handy in several situations, it can really eat away the life of the clutch. Engine braking unless done perfectly with the correct level of rev matching will eat up the clutch.
It has more utility on motorcycles, but for cars, the braking force of 4 wheels and the kerb weight itself is enough to slow you down. You can use engine braking in certain situations. For example, if you are driving on a downward slope and you feel that using your brakes might cause you to skid out, you can use engine braking there. But in general, try to rely more on your brakes on normal roads. Keep in mind brake pads are much more affordable than entire clutch assemblies.