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Clutch Wear

I’ve typically put a couple hundred thousand miles on each car I’ve driven, and never burned out a clutch, so I know that my driving patterns don’t cause excessive wear on the clutch.

Now that my daughter is getting her learner’s permit, I will teach her the obvious:

Don’t ride the clutch! The clutch is not a foot rest. Etc., etc.

There is one thing that I always avoided, and I do not know whether it has prevented clutch wear or whether it has just been a mannerism that didn’t matter: I do not hold the clutch pedal all the way in (fully disengaged), unless it is to use the clutch. That means I wait with the car in neutral at a red light, and any time the car is not in gear, except when I start the car, I put it in neutral and release the clutch pedal.

Now I’ve read that if you rest your foot on the clutch, even if you don’t (think) you push it in, it will cause wear, and I have no reason to disbelieve it: I’ve certainly seen people who do this who needed to replace their clutch.

I’ve also read (I think) that it’s OK, to have your clutch pedal pressed fully in for longer than you really need to, but I’ve never adopted this process to test whether the clutch burned out or not from it.

On one hand, if the clutch is fully disengaged (or engaged) it should not wear and you should be fine. On the other hand, if you do this habitually, and the clutch is partially engaged, even a little, it stands to reason that it will eventually fail prematurely, just like it does for people who use the clutch as a foot rest. And it takes pressure to hold the clutch in with your foot, too. What if the driver doesn’t hold it quite all the way in?

So is this a practice that will cause the clutch to wear out faster or not? Why or why not? I’d like to provide my daughter with accurate information.

Holding the clutch down while stopped will have no affect on the clutch plate at all, but it will increase the wear on the throwout bearing and possibly on the fingers of the pressure plate where they contact the throwout bearing. It may also have some wear on the pilot bearing.

But I habitually hold my clutch pedal to the floor waiting for the light to change and I have never worn out either of those bearings or the pressure plate, and like you, I have never worn out a clutch and I have gone as far as 275k on one vehicle and have a couple others at 200k. However, the red lights in my area do not stay red for very long, they cycle fast (they don’t stay green very long either) but I have been places where the lights hold for up to 2 minutes before changing, even when no one is coming up to the green. In those areas, I let out the clutch while waiting.

Sensible driving techniques result in a great many benefits and long clutch life seems to be among them. Occasionally someone riding with me comments on how lucky I was to not catch a light while driving a significant distance on city streets. Those same people likely blame the quality of their brakes when they need replacing annually.

And you get better gas mileage too.

And you get one less reason to lose sleep. :smile:

Good luck teaching your daughter. I taught both my kids, and it takes lots and lots of patience.

Only the OP knows how their child thinks ( well as much as one can of a teenager ) but I feel as a new driver I would prefer they hold the clutch in at lights at first. The less they have to do to get moving when light turns green the better. Waiting on a long train is a different deal.

I’ll gladly take one less thing to lose sleep over. The lack of experience/skills/judgment that comes along with your kid being a new teenage driver is already plenty!

Speaking of teaching your daughter how to drive a stick, my favorite story on this was posted here years ago.

Someone asked if he should teach his 16 year old daughter how to drive a stick, or should her boyfriend do it. The replies quickly digressed to the benefits of manual-vs-automatics. Then someone replied with this:

Teach her yourself. On a quiet Sunday morning, drive to a big parking lot via some circuitous route where you're showing her the basics of shifting. Then let her try. When she lets the clutch out for the first time, the car will stall. She will immediately stop and look at you for help - using the same smile she used when she was 6 and you knew everything in the universe.

Remember that precious moment because it may be the last time you’ll
experience it.

Those words resonated with me thinking back on when I taught our daughter to drive a stick.

I’ve always taken my foot off the pedal while driving and if I expect to be stopped for any period of time, like a freshly-red stoplight. As Keith explained, it prevents unnecessary wear on the throwout bearing (also called a release bearing).

In response to your solicitation for assistance in explaining it to her, perhaps this exploded view drawing would help.

I applaud you for teaching your daughter how to drive a manual transmission car. It truly is a dying art these days as its becoming increasingly difficult to even find any. It’s a handy skill to have though, you never know when it could come in handy, and she’ll have a skill that none of her peers are likely to have.

I have a tendency to hold the clutch pedal in and the car in 1st while sitting at red light. I know its a bad habit though. I can remember my father admonishing me not to do that, and he’s been gone a very long time. When I catch myself doing it more and more, I make a conscious effort to not do it. Never broke a throwout bearing tho. . .nor replaced a clutch. . . knock on wood. . . I did have a clutch CABLE break on me last year, after 200,000 miles and 22 years of use.

Yeah, best way is foot is ONLY on the clutch pedal when you are actively shifting gears. Good luck and best wishes to you and your daughter.

Another advantage: at the same time you have that skill, most other people are unlikely to want to try to borrow your car!