Extending Clutch Life

selling
volkswagen
beetle

#1

Is it better to let the clutch out slowly or to “drop” the clutch on a manual transmission car? I like to let the clutch out slowly to avoid jerking. I have a 2000 VW Beetle with 140k miles that I bought new. All my friends who have VWs have replaced their clutch between 80 and 140k miles. I wonder if it is my driving style or just luck that I have not launched my clutch yet. I never engine break, don’t slip the clutch on hills, and I put the car in neutral and let out the clutch at stop lights. We drove our last car, a 1989 Mazda 626, 240 miles over 16 years and never had to replace the clutch.


#2

The main thing is keeping RPMs low when you pull away from a stop. If your clutch is in good shape and engages smoothly, you can launch the car from a stop at around 1,100 RPM (maybe around 1,300 on a hill). Also, when starting on a hill, DON’T DRIFT BACK! I use one side of my foot on the brake and the other side on the throttle to avoid drifting back. My techniques will not win any drag races, but they will allow one to start out quickly enough for most purposes. If you drove a car 240,000 miles without replacing the clutch, you must be doing something right!


#3

You the “clutch man.” Well done !


#4

AAAAAAmen


#5

You can make a clutch last forever if you don’t beat hell out of it. You may never have to replace it.


#6

You can also greatly extend your clutch’s life by getting in the habit of slowing down in advance when you see a red light up ahead so that you are still moving forward when it’s time to go again.
Even if your car is only going at a walking speed, you can just drop the clutch on an idling engine and then push the accelerator with zero clutch slipping.


#7

Is it better to let the clutch out slowly or to “drop” the clutch on a manual transmission car?

I think the best approach is something in between. In line with doubleclutch’s advice, when I am in a hurry, I wait until my foot is fully off the clutch before I open up the throttle, only pressing gently on the throttle while the clutch is partially engaged in the friction zone.

Putting the car in neutral and letting out the clutch at stop lights is fine when you are not first in line, but there are times when it is okay to be in gear with the clutch fully pressed, like when you are first in line, or when you are in a sketchy part of town where your safety might benefit from you being ready to drive away. When I am first in line at a red light, and I can’t anticipate when the light will turn green, I generally put the car in gear so I am ready to go, just to be courteous to those behind me. As long as you don’t make a habit of it, and only sit in gear when it is necessary, it shouldn’t cause premature failure of the throwout bearing.


#8

It is your (extremely skilled) driving style. Good job! Whatever you are doing, don’t change a thing!


#9

Rev it up too about 4000rpm then “side step” the clutch, I have been told this will discourage people from asking you for rides.


#10

How quickly you engage the clutch has some effect on slippage wear.
But it’s more important to engage slowly enough to make the process smooth, which extends the life of many other parts besides the clutch.

When the clutch is partly engaged and slipping: Time X RPMs = Wear

240K out of a clutch means you’ve got the technique “under your fingers”.

I’ve never replaced a clutch due to wear.
It’s always been a crank seal or trans bearing failure that called for detaching the trans.
I think the longest was 203K miles.


#11

I always release slowly at low rpm’s. I seldom shift to neutral at stop light. I got about 260K out of the last clutch in my '88 Escort that now has 515K miles on it. The current clutch has about 205K on it and showing no signs of problems. The only clutch that wore out prematurely on the Escort was the original, but my niece drove the car a few times and wasn’t familiar with a straight shift, I think that contributed to the premature failure of the clutch.

Many years ago I had friend replacing some needle bearing in the transmission of a Mazda pickup and told him to go ahead and replace the clutch. The truck had 80K miles on it so I figured it needed a new one. My friend did as I ask and put a new one in, but when I picked up the truck he told me the old clutch was still like new.


#12

I will also state that I almost never engine brake. If I am going down a long hill, I will put it in a reasonable gear to put the engine at perhaps 2,100 or 2,200 RPM, but I do not downshift through the gears when coming to a stop. As far as clutch life goes, downshifts should always be properly rev-matched. If one is accurate enough, it can even be done without de-clutching.


#13

engine breaking is not that hard on a clutch, if you don’t go to first at 80 MPH. Also, putting it in N at a stop light isn’t helping nor hurting much. It is during engagement when the clutch has to use friction between the moving plate and non-moving plate. Like brakes. Once the car is stopped, the brakes are not sliding against each other. Once the clutch is all the way on or off (in or out?) there is no rubbing, so no wear.


#14

engine breaking is not that hard on a clutch, if you don’t go to first at 80 MPH.

Sorry, but I disagree. Even the most careful normal wear is wear. The more you disengage and engage the clutch, the sooner it will wear out. Period. Downshifting, even done with the best technique, necessitates excessive use of the clutch. Besides, the brakes were made to stop the car, and the clutch wasn’t, and a brake job is always cheaper than a clutch job.

Also, putting it in N at a stop light isn’t helping nor hurting much.

If, every time you stop, you leave the transmission in gear with the clutch pressed all the way down, you will cause premature wear to the throwout bearing.

Once the clutch is all the way on or off (in or out?) there is no rubbing, so no wear.

If I knew all the parts of the clutch system, I could explain why this is wrong. I will only say that when the clutch is pressed, the throwout bearing is in use. The more use it gets, the sooner it will wear out. Being in neutral and having your foot off the clutch prevents this wear. Maybe somebody can explain it better than I can.

My 1998 Civic has 203,000 miles on the odometer. It also has the original clutch.


#15

I’ll give it a shot, Whitey. The throw-out bearing is the bearing between the spinning parts and the non-spinning parts of the mechanism that disengages the clutch when you step on the pedal. When you are sitting still in first gear with your foot on the clutch, the throw-out bearing is bearing the force of the clutch spring while spinning. When you are sitting still in neutral with your foot off the clutch, the throw-out bearing is not bearing the force of the clutch springs.

Your 203,000 miles on the original clutch is impressive! My Saturn had 181,500 miles and it quit running, and I ditched it because the rocker frames were rusted through. The original clutch was still in decent shape, though.