Complete novice with a simple problem

Hi there, despite loving Car Talk here in Glasgow, Scotland, I’m a complete novice when it comes to cars outside of driving one. I’ve had this Kia Picanto City since June and it’s ran great up until recently. The clutch is a fair bit more slack than it should be, and my dad thinks that’s down to the terrible way both myself and my brother were taught to change gears down when approaching a round-about or turn etc. (essentially coasting with the clutch down). However it’s never really been a problem driving it. This winter, it’s difficult to get the car moving in the morning. The car turns on fine and everything, but when i try to drive it out it’s parking space, the car feels like it’s trying to move but the wheels stay still. It then takes a fair bit of effort to move it, it’s as if I’m rolling over a dead body on the road. That’s been a daily occurrence but this morning it was worse than usual, making a bad sound and smell. When I got the car moving it was making a noise like it was a jet engine slowing down and speeding up depending on speed. Like a “wumph, wumph, wumph”. I decided to turn around and leave it at home, because like i said, i’m a novice.

Any help would be much appreciated. Cheers!

Your clutch is worn out.

If the sound you describe is the engine revving up and back down, then Rod Knox is right. Does the car have a Tachometer or rev counter?

My guess is it’s just TIME for the clutch to be replaced. How many miles/kilometers are on your car?

Unless you are coasting to slow down with the clutch PARTIALLY engaged, that has nothing to do with the clutch’s demise. Do you EVER rest your foot on the clutch pedal when going down the street? We call that riding the clutch. It will ruin one quickly.

The OP can count this as one more person who believes that the clutch is simply worn out.
However, whether this has to do with the OP’s driving style or to the (unknown) odometer mileage of this car, I can’t say.

It’s only got about 3000 miles on it. Maybe I didn’t describe the sound that well, it’s probably more of a knocking sound than a rev. I took the car out just there and setting off wasn’t a problem and the noise went away just a little up the street. A second opinion ive had from a neighbour has suggested stuck brakes or something along those lines as the car sits outside in a cold and currently very wet and puddle-filled space. If I drive the car in the morning after having problems setting off, the car will set off fine on the way home.

When I was coasting and driving badly it was always with the clutch fully down. I make sure not to rest my foot on it or have it partially engaged.

Thanks for your help guys.

This is a new car with only 3k miles on the odometer?
Hmmm…While it is not common for a clutch to wear out in 3k miles, believe it or not, it can happen. We don’t know exactly how you and your brother drive, so none of us can say whether it is a clutch problem or not, but…trust me…I have seen people wear out the clutch on a brand new car w/in less than 2 weeks.

However, “stuck brakes” is probably more of a likelihood than a worn-out clutch on a new car. I don’t know what your winter temps are like, but I would advise that you NOT use your parking brake in freezing weather, as it is certainly possible for the brake cable to freeze-up in the “perfect storm” of lots of moisture coupled with falling temperatures. Just leave the car in gear when you park it, and be sure to cut the wheels toward the curb (I think you may spell it “kerb” on the other side of the pond) in order to prevent the car from rolling.

Ah never thought about the parking brake. It’s been a particularly cold december here so that will help. Looking to live and work in the US in a couple of years so hopefully the weather issues won’t be as prevalent!


Depending on where you live in the US, your winter weather conditions might actually be far worse than in Scotland! In Minnesota recently, the temperatures have been something like negative 20 degrees, and even where I live–in the rolling hills of Central NJ–the temperatures on Friday of this week may fall to 1 degree at night.

If you want warm weather consistently, you will probably have to aim your sights at Florida (where the summer weather conditions are brutally hot & HUMID in most of the state) or California (where there are frequent threats of earthquakes and wildfires in the warmer months).

Where in the US do you think that you would like to live?

I had my sights set on Austin. Purely for the city more than the weather. Never liked the idea of living in Texas until I started reading about Austin everywhere. Lot’s of jobs in tech and creative industries too I hear. The North East has appealed to me as well, probably because I am both Irish and Italian and so there’s alot of like-minded people!

Austin is actually the only city in Texas in which I would consider living. Not that I am about to move there, but the social/cultural/political climate there is certainly more to my liking than what is typical of the rest of the state.

In the Northeast, you would find a lot of incredible Italian restaurants, along with lots of Italian & Irish folks. And, the pizza in NYC, Connecticut, and NJ is the best that you will find anywhere outside of Italy!

Some people must have read your description of the symptoms too fast. I was thinking stuck brake all the way. While leaving it off for a couple of overnight parks is a good idea to find out if that clears it up, you will want to have the issue addressed so that you can use it. Cleaning and lubrication of the rear brakes and parking brake mechanism and cable would be in order.

Maybe a silly question, but the car hasn’t been given a thorough wash in a while. Could that be affecting the brakes?

@ScottishNovice Are you sure you read the mileage correctly? It sounds like you have 30,000 miles on the car, not 3000. Please double-check. At 3000 miles all items on the car would still be covered by warranty and the dealer would fix them all at no cost.

If you were ever to come to the USA or Canada to live, it is mandatory you become “car-smart”. Having no car knowledge here is a severe handicap, as you may have concluded from reading some of the posts here.

definitely 3000, i bought it new 6 months ago.

Thanks for the tip, I’ll definitely make the effort to learn more.

I agree with cigroller that the issue is probably a sticking parking brake and that some of the earlier posters misunderstood your symptoms. By the way, I’ve had my tires freeze to the pavement after washing the car in extremely cold weather, but that doesn’t sound like your issue here. If you notice the burning smell again, carefully check if one or more wheels are very hot; if so, that helps to confirm a stuck brake.

I’m not going to ask how you know what it feels like to drive over a dead body!