Damaged clutch

I have a 2005 Mazda 6 4 cyl manual transmission, purchased this past holidays. Last week the clutch disk totally wore out and the car was not moving at all… AT 68000 miles only. I am a new manual transmission driver and I think I might have been part of the problem. My mechanic, who is a family friend, has replaced already the clutch kit and he found out that the clutch disc was not only worn out but actually damaged, shattered on a side. So I got scolded by him and my father as they suggested that I damaged it by doing improper shifting. They suggested that I went from 4th or 3rd gear to 1st thus damaging the clutch disc for the car to totally stop moving. However that’s very unlikely in my opinion. I don’t know if Mazda included some sort of safety feature in the transmission, but the car never let me go in 1st gear if it was already in motion, the shifter would lock if I attempted (found that out when driving in stop-and-go heavy traffic). I thought my problem was due to my foot frequently flirting with the clutch pedal in order to keep my driving and shifting smooth. In fact a few friends of mine who drove manuals in the past complimented me on my driving becoming so smooth in a short time. I also think that I bought the car with the clutch kit carrying some sort of damage on it, since in the first weeks of ownership, my practice period, I would often smell a burning odor when I was not doing things smoothly. Once I got better I never smelt the odor again until a few days before the clutch gave out. What could have caused the clutch disc to shatter?? I just want to make sure I don’t run into that issue again.

It doesn’t take long for a person unfamiliar with driving a manual transmission vehicle to damage the clutch. The burning smell is an indication that the clutch was being damaged.

Also, you never step on the clutch pedal unless shifting gears. If you’re in traffic and you’re operating the accelerator along with the clutch pedal to keep the vehicle moving, this is called “Riding the Clutch”. And riding the clutch is one of quickest ways to destroy the clutch.


I honestly think your lack of experience killed the clutch

At work, I recently replaced a clutch on a truck. “They” were using the truck to teach a guy how to drive stick. It didn’t go that well, and he killed the clutch in a few days time.

Right down to the rivets

To the point that the truck would barely move at all

And the clutch that he killed only had about 5K or 10K on it

Don’t feel too bad

It happens

And the learning curve can be steep

My advice is to have somebody experienced teach you how to drive stick shift

Perhaps even a professional

Tom and Ray made some good points about driving stick, by the way. They essentially said if you’re shifting too smoothly, you’re probably wearing out the clutch.

Some who have been around this forum for quite a while may remember the lady who posted some years back about whether or not warranty should cover a clutch repair.

In that particular case, she had been teaching her 16 year old daughter to drive a manual transmission and the daughter had wiped the clutch out on a brand new VW New Beetle in 2 days flat.

We call this clutch failed at once. The cause is operator error.

The problem is not shifting, rather it is taking off from a stop.

Find an experienced person to take you to a hill with no traffic. Once you master taking off from a stop on a hill you will not need to learn anything else.

I have done this before for customers and it works like a champ.

Revving an engine at start up, and slowly slipping the clutch will ruin it in no time. When teaching someone to drive a manual is to give it the least amount of gas to get rolling and clutch fully out in 1st gear. You should be able to get any car rolling at idle in 1st gear without touching the gas pedal… The more you slip it the more wear and this includes excessive downshifting when not required instead of using the brakes…

My dad had a 70 Maverick, and he was a bear on clutches. He had to back up a driveway with a slight incline and I swear he had the engine revved to about 3k backing up. I could smell the clutch burning.

He had a new clutch put in at 30k, then at 10k later he burned that one. I see people at red lights on a hill using the clutch to hold the car instead of using the brake… You see the vehicle rolling back and forth…You always remember the smell of a burning clutch When I see this I just say what an airhead… ( being kind here with words )…just plain stupidity.

The key IMHO is refining your TIMING with clutch and gas. Most people will say to give a bit of gas as you are letting out the clutch. Wrong! That’s what caused the smell you mentioned. The faster the engine is spinning before the clutch is fully engaged, the more the disk is being worn. As others have said, a clutch can be ruined in a matter hours. All it takes is revving the engine when the clutch is at the friction point, where it just begins to grab.

@Howie32703 gives you the first part of the technique:

You should be able to get any car rolling at idle in 1st gear without touching the gas pedal.

Spend a few minutes on flat ground practicing just what Howie says: start from standing still without touching the gas. It’s surprisingly easy. What you are trying to do is develop the muscle memory to know a) exactly where in the clutch pedal’s travel, the car begins to roll, and b) how long you need to hold it right there before you can lift completely.

Think of it as: lift smoothly to friction point…pause…then lift off the pedal. Your object is to make the pause as short as possible, just until the car begins to roll, then smoothly release the clutch pedal and get your foot completely off it.

Stop and repeat. Do it several times until your left leg and foot really do seem to know where to hold, and for how long. Work at shortening that time, and at moving the pedal as smoothly as possible.

When you’ve mastered the placement and timing of the pause, then move on to adding gas. You add gas just after the pause. It will take concentration at first to get the timing dead on. You won’t have to concentrate like that once your left leg gets the motion right, experienced drivers don’t even think about it, it all becomes muscle memory.

I think you can learn this on your own in less than half an hour.

I never thought of it before, but you might find it helpful to do this session at night so there are less visual distractions thus enabling you to really concentrate on the physical awareness of the car beginning to move, and the sensation in your foot. Just an idea.

And for the record, once the car is moving, your left foot goes on the floor, and not resting lightly on the clutch pedal. Get completely off the pedal.

Hope this helps!

I learned 18 years ago when teaching my son to drive a clutch that describing how to do it is almost impossible for me. What I tried instead was to teach him the clutches purpose and let him figure out how to use the clutch from there.

Its function is NOT to allow slip to enable one surface to catch up to the other. Its purpose is to engage and disengage the two surfaces when the two are synched using other methods. When accelerating, that means allowing the clutch to engage at the lowest possible engine speed, and with tenderness. When decelerating, it means dabbing the gas to allow the flywheel to gain speed. The rest was just hours of practice.

NOTE: the idea did not work well with my daughter. My son was a physics brain, my daughter an artist. He easily understood, she took lots and lots and lots of practice. He could envision the parts working, she could not. Many, many hours of practice on hills was much more important for her.

I wonder of Revell ever made a model of how clutch assemblies work. Like the old “Visable V8”.