Burning out a clutch

Our daughter will be learning to drive this summer. We have the option of having her learn on one of our standard transmission cars after she completes the training on an automatic. My husband is afraid she will burn out the clutch if we let her learn on one of our cars. I learned how to drive a standard in by 20s and have never burned out a clutch. How worried do we really need to be about this?

I’ve never seen a clutch undamaged from someone learning to drive a manual transmission. It’s a learning curve. How quickly do they get it compared to the abuse of the clutch?


With proper instruction, the clutch is safe. I taught both our daughters on a stick shift Subaru. The clutch survived…This is not an issue.

A lady posted on this board about 3 years? ago in regards to a situation like this.
The woman had just purchased a brand new VW New Beetle, attempted to teach her daughter to drive it the very next day, and the daughter fried the clutch on Day Two of the new car ownership.

So it depends.

That’s the instructors fault, not the student…A big, open parking lot is the best place to learn the starting technique. No traffic and no distractions. No reving the engine and slipping the clutch. Have the instructor DEMONSTRATE the technique several times. Then have the student try it. Tell them that stalling the engine is MUCH preferred over racing the engine and slipping the clutch. Once they develop CONFIDENCE in the parking lot, they can tackle a stop light. Shifting between the gears comes very quickly after they have mastered pulling away from a stop…While in the parking lot, also practice coming to a stop without stalling the engine. Depressing the clutch and shifting to neutral take a little while for those who learned to drive an automatic first…One hour sessions are long enough. “Lets try it again tomorrow, it will be a lot easier”…

Teaching someone to drive a stick shouldn’t cause too much damage. What leads to burnt out clutches is when you give someone the quick little 5 minute stick shift lesson and then turn them loose-- they’ll almost invariably develop bad habits that can burn a clutch in a matter of days to weeks.

I usually say they need at least an hour or two minimum supervised practice before I’d set 'em loose.

I taught two kids to drive manual transmission cars with no damage to the clutch of either vehicle.

It’s my opinion this is how people should be taught to drive. If they want to switch to an automatic later that’s fine, but they should learn to drive with a clutch.

This is just one of the many reasons I will never be King.

I’ve never seen a clutch undamaged from someone learning to drive a manual transmission.

I taught myself to drive stick on my 1965 Sunbeam Imp. I put over 100,000 miles on it before I sold it and it still had the original clutch.

The OP’s question reminds me of a post in this forum a few years ago where a guy asked: “Should I teach my daughter how to drive a standard or should I let her boyfriend teach her?”

My favorite reply, paraphrased, was:

Teach her yourself. Drive to an empty parking lot by some circuitous route while showing her all the steps for driving a standard. Then let her try. On her first attempt, she will let out the clutch and it will stall. That’s when she will look in your eyes for help, the same way she did when she was six and you knew everything in the universe. Remember that precious moment because that’s the last time she will look at you that way.

So true.

I started out in this parenthood thing with the belief that there were certain life skills that my kids should have, just in case they ever really needed to use them. My daughters knew how to swim as soon as they were old enough to walk. They knew how to drive a stick shift and how to ride a motorcycle as soon as they had their driver’s licenses.

I put them both in stick shift Volvo 240s in high school. I don’t think it was them learning to drive that was hard on the clutches, I think it was them teaching their classmates and their cousins to drive stick shift that did it. The sedan clutch survived for the four years we owned that car, but the wagon clutch gave up after about four years of being used as a trainer for their friends. The clutch had about 100k miles on it at the time, so its life was roughly cut in half by being used to teach who-knows how many kids to drive clutch.

For for teaching just one kid - don’t worry about it.

The tricky part is explaining how to do it. When my kids asked me to explain it, I asked them to explain to me how to ride a bicycle - how you correct the steering as you put weight on alternating pedals and how you turn the wheel to the left in order to turn the bike to the right. It is more about feeling then thinking. I told them that driving a clutch is much the same thing, but you use your ears as well.

We decided to teach her ourselves on the standard. Thanks for your comments, very helpful.

We agreed that learning how to drive a manual is a good skill. We will probably not let friends drive it, at least not for a couple of years. She has to drive with us for awhile, anyway.

Agree, it’s an important skill. We’ll teach her ourselves, comments very helpful.

I think with proper suggestions the clutch should be fairly safe. I will be teaching my daughter to drive the stick (another truck) can’t get as bad as the times I smoked it pulling the boat out in rugged conditions, and the clutch was still good at 120k when I traded it in. Tester what damages do you see and what do you do to avoid them?

I learned to drive in my father’s 1990 Chevy Cavalier five speed at age 15. He also taught both my younger siblings to drive in that car. He still has the car, and it has between 190k and 200k miles on it with the original clutch. No damage done, clutch still doesn’t slip a bit last time I drove it.