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Stick shift stop uphill

Hey there Car Talk folks! So I’ve got an 89 BMW 325i with a manual transmission, which is fun as heck to drive. Sometimes when I’m bored in traffic and stopped at a light on an uphill, rather than applying the break, I lift up on the clutch slightly and give it a little gas just enough to counteract gravity. Now I realize this isn’t particularly safe, that it means my brake lights aren’t on and that if I’m rear-ended I’ll slam into the car in front of me and shouldn’t do it and so forth. My question is, though, is this bad for the transmission? The clutch? I had to replace the master cylinder on the clutch a year or so back, could my driving behavior be to blame? Thanks a bunch

By doing this, you are greatly accelerating the wear and tear on the clutch.
When you are stopped on a hill, put the trans in neutral, take your foot off the clutch pedal, and use the brake to hold the car in place.

I suggest that you learn how to use the hand brake, in conjunction with the clutch, in order to provide a smooth take-off on a hill.

You are damaging the clutch. Learn how to transition from accel/brake to accel/clutch on a hill. Once you get the hang of it its second nature. You can do it without thinking.

Holding the car on a hill with the clutch will wear out/burn up your clutch REAL quick! In a car designed with sporty inclinations such as your BMW, the pedals should be positioned in relation to each other so that it is easy (with practice) to hold the car with one side of your (right) foot on the brake and the other side on the throttle to launch the car on a hill without drifting back or using too much clutch slippage.

If you are stopped at a traffic signal facing uphill, you could set the parking brake. When you are ready to take off, put the car in gear, accelerate as you let the clutch up and release the parking brake. It is easier to do with a hand operated parking brake, but I was able to do it with the 1954 Buick and the 1965 Rambler that I owned that had step on parking brakes and manual transmissions.

Triedaq is absolutely correct. It amazes me how few can do the simplest of things like this when driving a standard transmission. When teaching our kids to drive a standard…which both still prefer today, using the parking brake for this and other situation was mandatory. Car companies have no choice but to only offer autos in most of their models if drivers continue to do unsafe acts like that discribes by OP.

New brake pads = $250
New clutch = $1,300

Which do you prefer?

“hill holding” by using the clutch is a very good way to kill the clutch. No advantages, and lots of disadvantages. No harm to the transmission.

New brake pads = $250…Geez! I usually pay about $65.

I agree with everything said here, except with the implication that using the brakes to hold the car on a hill will accelerate brake pad wear. The cost of brake pads vs cost of a clutch job is a strong argument against downshifting when approaching a stop sign or red light. Many people do this to save wear on the brakes, but don’t seem to realize they are doing so at the expense of the life of their clutch. Hill holding with the clutch, however, is one of the worst habits you can develop when driving a manual transmission vehicle. Depending on how much gas you give it to hill hold, hill holding for 30 seconds probably produces as much wear on the clutch as at least 200-300 standing starts, and that’s if you’re gentle with your hill-holding method. For what it’s worth, my father recently scrapped an old five speed Cavalier he used to teach me and my siblings to drive in. He was very adamant about no hill holding or excessive throttle or clutch slippage when starting the car from a stop, and no downshifting unless absolutely necessary on a long, steep hill. The car had nearly a quarter million miles on it when scrapped due to rust, and had received a new starter around 220k miles. I inspected the clutch (which was original to the car) as best I could with the starter out of the car, and the disc looked like new. If you avoid bad habits like these, you may never have to replace a clutch again.

I would suggest to the OP that he swap the BMW for a Studebaker with the optional hill-holder. I know that this feature was available on the 1947 through the 1955 models and may have been available even later. With the hill-holder feature and the optional Borg-Warner overdrive, you would not only keep from rolling backward when stopped on an uphill slope, but you would have 5 forward speeds as well.

If you owned a 65 Mustang I would say to not worry about it, in 1969. Parts and labor would have been cheap because you could have done the job in about three hours in your garage. BMW parts are a little more expensive than 65 Mustang parts. Don’t do that.

Holding a car on a hill by using the clutch is downright stupid. Using the foot brakes will not cause any wear to the brakes.

Not only will you very quickly wear the clutch out, You’ll probably end up having to have the flywheel surface machined when you do the clutch change.

Looks like OP has had enough bashing, but I have to comment on the below quote:

@Triedaq wrote:
“It is easier to do with a hand operated parking brake, but I was able to do it with the 1954 Buick and the 1965 Rambler that I owned that had step on parking brakes and manual transmissions.”

That is a relatively impressive accomplishment. At least I think so…

@CCar–Driving the 1954 Buick was like operating the pedal keyboard on a pipe organ. From left to right there was the parking brake, the dimmer switch, the clutch pedal, the button to advance the Selectronic radio to the next station, the brake pedal, and the accelerator pedal. Also, to start the Buick, you turned the ignition switch from either “off” or “lock” to on and stepped on the accelerator–the starter was combined with the accelerator. I have never understood why a “step-on” parking brake was considered an advantage over a hand operated parking brake, but many cars back in the 1950s went from the hand operated parking brake to one that was foot operated. I personally preferred the way the hand brake was actuated on my 1950 1 ton Chevrolet pickup truck–it was a big lever right by the floor mounted gear shift that one pulled back to engage the parking brake.

Nothing like the smell of a smoking clutch in the morning!!!

This thread reminds me of a story a mechanic friend told me. He had a customer bring in a 1946 Buick Roadmaster with the clutch that was almost gone. My mechanic friend changed the clutch which was quite a job on those Buicks because they had an enclosed driveshaft (torque tube drive it was called) and the rear axle had to be dropped to remove the transmission. At any rate, the car checked out, but two months later the customer was back with the same problem. The clutch was changed again and everything worked. The customer didn’t complain about paying the bill. However, in another two months or so, the customer returned with the clutch shot. After the mechanic changed the clutch, he had the customer take him for a ride The customer only let the clutch out to the friction point and let it slip while he drove. When my mechanic friend suggested he let the clutch all the way out and save wearing out the clutch, the customer replied indignantly, “This is the only way I know how to drive a car I’ll pay for the clutches–you put them in”. My friend said at this point he just kept quiet.

Thanks to all. Your advice has been univocal, convincing, and just a little bit humbling. In quasi-defense of my driving habits: I’m really quite adept at starting from a stop on hill as you suggest, I only “hill hold” (great to know there’s a term for it BTW) occasionally and out of sheer boredom. I may be guilty of occasionally using the hill hold to rock the car forward and backward a couple inches in time to the music while stopped, as well. So, yeah. I’ll stop doing that.

It was smart of you to ask, and even smarter to agree…