The clutch is subjected to constant friction, so it is unsurprising that it will wear out eventually. You may find that your clutch lasts 10,000 miles before you need to get a new one or you could drive 150,000 before it gives up.
Exactly how long your car goes without having to replace the clutch depends entirely on the way it is driven. If it’s going to need changing at some point then it may not seem important how long your clutch lasts; but when it could cost you hundreds of pounds to get it replaced you may want to think carefully about how you treat it. Here are a few pieces of advice about how to change your driving style to save your clutch and your money.
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1 Don’t ride the clutch
“Riding the clutch” is a term often used by driving instructors, but it’s not always completely clear what it means or why it can be bad for your car. “Riding the clutch” simply refers to the act of keeping the clutch pedal partially pressed down. This pushes the pressure pad against the clutch plate but doesn't engage completely, therefore creating more friction and wearing out the clutch faster. The best way to avoid this from happening is to keep your foot well away from the clutch unless you are actually changing gear. Don’t go round corners or slow down for traffic lights with the clutch semi-depressed.
2 Sit in neutral when stopped
Waiting at traffic lights or junctions with the clutch down, first gear engaged and your foot on the brake can put unnecessary strain on the clutch. It is much better to change into neutral if you are going to be stopped for any length of time and to use the handbrake to keep the car stationary.
3 Use the handbrake when parking
Leaving the car parked in gear puts strain on the clutch even when the engine is switched off. If at all possible you should use the handbrake to secure the car when parking instead of leaving your vehicle in gear. This will reduce the amount of pressure put on the clutch disc when you are not driving.
4 Change gear quickly
Don’t linger when changing gears. This is a common problem with new drivers when they are first learning how to drive a manual vehicle. Changing gear doesn’t need to take a long time, the longer you keep the clutch pedal pressed down, the more strain you are putting on your clutch each time you change gear. This may only be a matter of a couple of seconds but think of the number of times that you will change gear on an average journey and you will see how quickly this can add up over time.
5 Be decisive about gear changes
Don’t change gear more times than necessary. If you can see far down the road, try to think ahead about the obstacles which you will encounter so that you can try to maintain a constant speed rather than changing gear every few minutes.
Bear in mind that many of the things you do to reduce the amount you use your clutch can end up putting more strain on your brakes instead. A piece of advice often given to increase the shelf life of your clutch is to not use the gearbox to slow down. Changing down through the gears will mean that you use your clutch more often but not doing this will put more pressure on your brakes and wear them out faster. It is a fine balance.
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