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Clutch slightly engaged at stop light

So I’ve had a habit of slightly engaging my clutch at stop lights so that the transition to the gas is easier and quicker. Never had a problem until today where I smelt the dreaded clutch burn odor. I think I had it too engaged since it was sorta lugging at a standstill for a bit, but in general is this a bad idea? If I don’t go as aggressive as the lugging feeling but slightly release it, am I doing damage?


It’s hard to overstate what a terrible idea this is. Knock it off.

How many miles on this? Hopefully you will get more on your next clutch when you ditch this bad habit.

Hmm only 200 miles. Clearly need to cut it out then! I guess I will hold it in if not in neutral then release to that point quickly as I transition to the gas.

I cannot overemphasize how right auto-owner is.

It’s better not to do that if you want to avoid an early clutch re-do. But its not the end of the world either. When the engine is a idle rpm you don’t do much harm to the clutch even if you ride it a little. What quickly damages a clutch is a fast rpm and riding the clutch. How fast the clutch material wears is highly dependent on how hot it gets. If it melts, it wears away very fast. Try this. Rub your hands together slowly vs very fast. Notice the huge difference in how hot they get?

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of anyone ever doing something like this deliberately. As mentioned, it’s a very bad, and expensive, habit to have.

Imagine you are using a rope tow at the bunny slope of some ski resort. You grab the moving rope with your hands and let it pull you up the hill so you can ski back down. Now think about just letting the rope slip through your hands grabbing it just tight enough to keep you from sliding backwards. How long do you think you can keep that up before you have first and second degree burns on your hands?

What’s happening to your hands in this scenario is exactly what’s happening to your clutch disk when you use the clutch to hold a hill while waiting for a light to change and the clutches of people who develop this habit usually are not going to be long in this world. It’s people who do this that give manual transmission reliability a bad name.

" I guess I will hold it in if not in neutral then release to that point quickly as I transition to the gas"

I’d leave it in neutral and clutch OUT (engaged) at a light and when the light changes put it into first gear.

Clutches don’t wear when pedal is fully depressed or fully released. They only wear when in between…which is exactly what you’re doing.

That’s one bad habit that you need to break.

B.L.E., I liked your analogy. I don’t know how well it’ll work in New Mexico, but I like it. :smile:

I cannot overemphasize how right the same mountainbike is about not being able to overemphasize how right auto-owner is. :wink:

In all seriousness, BLE has a great analogy. (And it works just fine in New Mexico. Taos and Sandia Peak have great ski runs!)

Thanks a lot everyone. Will fix immediately.

Do you think the 100 or so miles did irreparable damage? We smelled the clutch on two separate incidents.

It certainly shortened the life of the clutch, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get some more out of it. When you begin to suspect it’s slipping, the best test is to simply floor it in high gear while driving. If it’s slipping, that’s when it’ll slip.

When my Father taught me to drive a clutch when I was 13 years old he stressed that when not using the clutch your foot was on the floor never on the clutch pedal. I have never “had” to replace one but have replaced 3 good discs and release bearings just because the engine or transmission was already removed. My current Kia has a huge “dead pedal”. If I’m not accelerating from a stop or shifting (including between shifts) that’s where my left foot is.

Your dad taught you well.

Depending on the type of emergency brake you have, it’s a great alternative to jumping from brake to gas/clutch. Truckers have to do this type of thing all the time, especially on hills. Engage the parking brake while you’re sitting, then when you’re ready to move, slightly engage the clutch, pop the parking brake, and fully engage the clutch. It’s far easier with a hand use parking brake, but very difficult with a foot operated one.

Cars with pedal parking brake should come standard with a baseball bat. It’s your choice to either use it to push the pedal down or to club the marketing people for convincing us that pedal parking brake is a better idea than console mounted ones. Console ones are safer, as it is available to both the driver and passengers

Cars had pedal parking brakes long, long before they had console parking brakes. They also had a “T-handle” that one pulled to engage the parking brake long before console parking brakes became common.