#1 Don’t Keep Your Car In Gear When You’re At A Stop Light
Why It’s Bad: Your clutch will suffer from unnecessary wear and tear.
When you’re sitting at a stop light and putting your car into gear, you’re essentially pressing the three main parts of your clutch into one another: the spring, the bearing, and the diaphragm. Eventually, this wears them out.
If your clutch wears out, you’ll have to replace it and that’s no cheap task. It will cost you a lot of money and some time. Instead, toss it in neutral and let the clutch out. This allows it to “relax,” so to speak.
The common argument going the other way is that having your car in gear allows you to move right away if needed. Unless you’re a sloth, it probably only takes you a second to put your car in gear anyway. So don’t worry about it. Protect your clutch.
People often say it’s a good idea to leave your car in gear in case you need to go right away. Well let’s be honest here, how much time does it take for you to put your car in gear? Well unless you’re a sloth, probably under a second right? You’re not saving any time.
The Bottom Line: When you put your car in neutral at a stop light, you’re lessening the general wear on your clutch
Take a second and enjoy this awesome sloth.
#2 Don’t Use the Clutch to Hold Yourself On a Hill
Why It’s Bad: It wears out your friction material and clutch.
A common habit people have is to feather the clutch pedal (tap it repeatedly) so they can avoid rolling down a hill. What you’re actually doing is burning out the friction material on your clutch disc.
This means your clutch is spinning at one speed, while your engine’s pressure plate (which is sandwiched between this disk and the fly wheel) is moving at another speed. They’re working against each other! This wears out your friction material and thus, your clutch.
Try a couple of easy techniques instead!
- Some cars have what’s called a Brake Hold. When you’re on a hill and you have the clutch pressed in, when you slowly ease your foot off the brake, the brake will hold for you! Hence the name, duh!
- However, some vehicles don’t have Brake Holds. In this situation, you just have to get on the gas pedal quickly while stepping off your clutch simultaneously. Try and make this as smooth a transition as possible. You might roll back a bit, but it won’t be anything significant.
- What happens if you’re on a steep hill and there’s a vehicle right behind you? All of a sudden the car is a Ferrari and you’re imagining yourself hurtling back into it at light speed. Relax, there’s an easy way for you to maneuver should you face this kind of situation. Pull the E-brake up. Push your clutch peddle in. Put your foot on the brake. Now you can slowly let your foot off the brake, put it in gear, ease off the clutch and when you feel it start to bite, let off the E-brake and go!*
*For extra confidence, practice on a flat surface to get the hang of it
The Bottom Line: There are ways to avoid rolling down a hill without holding the clutch in.
#3 Don’t Rest Your Hand On the Gear Shift
Why It’s Bad: It will wear down your clutch and it’s just plain unsafe.
This one is a bit surprising. The weight of your hand can actually cause the parts responsible for gear shifting to rub together. After a while, this actually rubs them down. This will cause your car to jump out of gear and, quite frankly, that sucks.
Don’t think your hand weighs very much? You’re right. But the fact that your hand is elevated means there’s added pressure coming through your shoulder, past your forearm, through your hand.
Weighty hands aside, holding your gear shift isn’t recommended from a safety perspective. We don’t like to hear it, but both of your hands should be on the steering wheel while you’re driving unless you’re shifting gears.
The Bottom Line: Your gear shift is not a hand rest.
#4 Don’t Floor the Gas Pedal When Your Engine Is at a Low RPM
Why It’s Bad: It’s unhealthy for your engine.
When you start flooring the gas pedal at low RPMs, you’re sending your vehicle a mixed signal.
Your car thinks is should be relaxing, while your foot is telling it to step on it. It stresses the engine out, which will eventually lead to the need for repairs.
This is what’s called “lugging the engine.
Rather than flooring it while you’re in 5th gear, just downshift. You can even skip a couple of gears if need be, as long as you rev match (a technique to prevent shock through the transmission when you’re gearing down).
The Bottom Line: Don’t lug the engine. It will cause major problems for you in the long run.
#5 Don’t Rest Your Foot On the Clutch When Driving
Why It’s Bad: It will wear out your clutch.
You’ve heard the term before. It’s called “riding the clutch.”
Let’s put this in the simplest terms possible. Your clutch is not a resting place for your foot. Even though you think there’s no pressure being applied, there most certainly is and it’s bad news bears.
Your foot forces the clutch pedal down and then causes it to take up the slack. This, in turn, causes the clutch friction disk to slip, creating heat and ultimately wearing your clutch out.
What does all this mean? A hefty bill when you’ll eventually need to replace your clutch.
Resting your foot on the pedal also means your clutch may not be fully engaged. That can cause major slippage with your clutch disc (also wearing down your clutch).
The Bottom Line: Resting your foot on the clutch is a bad habit to get into, so try and avoid it as much as possible.