The clutch pedal is an essential part of a manual transmission car that helps change gears when engaged. However, it may be alien to those who are more conversant with automatic transmission cars only. Manual cars, as opposed to automatic transmission cars, come with three pedals. The one on the left-hand side is the clutch pedal. Automatic vehicles come with two pedals, the accelerator and brake pedal.
The clutch pedal can be the most frustrating part of learning how to drive a manual transmission car. Manipulating it for learners is often troublesome, and it leaves them with a sting. This sting lies to them that they will never get the hang of how the clutch pedal works.
Thus, most learners often drift to an automatic transmission car as they are easier to learn and manipulate easily. Most experienced drivers will argue that manual transmission cars are a lot more fun to drive and quite engaging. It is commonly said that the clutch pedal is straightforward to use.
It just needs a lot of time and practice to gain mastery. To make your experience of this pedal become friendly than you imagined possible, attention to pressure and timing but be your best friends.
To better aid your understanding, I have put together an article on how the clutch pedal works; you should check it out.
How to avoid wearing out your clutch
Earlier on, we referred to pressure and timing as two cardinal factors that must be engaged to avoid a terrible experience. Now, we will be looking at it in a more excellent light. Here are a few tips to help you by navigating your way or using the clutch pedal without causing wear.
Five (5) tips to help you avoid clutch wear
Do not engage the clutch continuously for a long time
Often, young or inexperienced drivers make the mistake of pressing the clutch pedal down continuously at standstills or traffic hold-ups. This mistake places more pressure than necessary on the clutch's release pressure. Over time of always making this mistake, the wear is inevitable.
Be gentle with your rev
Understanding how a car's clutch and bit point works will save you from a lot of stress and possible wear in the same vein. When drivers become excessively careless with their revs while the clutch is engaged, these unnecessary revs will cause the clutch to wear. This wear will happen quite frequently if the action persists.
This act is common when drivers try to maneuver through hilly terrains. As a driver, you should seek to feel how many revs you need to get your ride going. Sometimes a rev might not be required to maintain the speed. If you must accelerate at such time, let it be gentle. A little pressure on your accelerator and you are good to go.
Change your gear quickly
Although this is often associated with new drivers, it is common not to spend so much time on your gear. Engaging your clutch pedal for too long when you need another gear stresses the clutch.
This approach doesn't mean you have to change your gear too fast. However, it would be best if you do it adequately. Spending more seconds when you clutch down will only damage your clutch when you do it repeatedly.
Anticipate your gear change before engaging your clutch pedal
We mean that before you change your gear, look at the state of traffic, and change your gear accordingly. Being indecisive in the gear you wish to switch to is what often causes prolonged clutch down of your clutch pedal. Instead of being indecisive and changing gear too frequently, you can stay in one gear and maintain the momentum.
However, you must note that this call for anticipation and decisiveness prevents you from using your clutch often. When you restrain from using your clutch, you put more pressure on your brakes. This applied pressure on the brakes will cause it to wear out faster.
Please read our article on the brake drum to understand this better. The advice here is for you not to spend so much time with your gearbox. Obeying this instruction will increase the life-span of your clutch.
Learn how to make use of your Hand brake
We have been emphasizing not putting stress or strain on the clutch to help your clutch last long. One of the ways to avoid this strain is to use your hand brakes more often.
This is most significant when you park your car and turn off your engine. Some inexperienced drivers make the common mistake of parking in gear—parking in gear to put a strain on your clutch.
Therefore, to eliminate this pressure imposed on your clutch disc when your car is parked, you should make use of the handbrake. Do not leave your car in gear.
Wait in neutral for traffic lights
As simple as this may sound, it is an obvious point of consideration. Some drivers do the wrong thing at the traffic light; they clutch down and engage the first gear with a foot on the brake pedal. I'm afraid that's not right and adds unwanted strain on the clutch. When waiting at traffic lights, especially when it will take some time, it is better to sit in neutral. In addition to sitting in neutral, initiate the handbrake to keep the car from rolling.
Common faults associated with the clutch pedal system
- Strong clutch pedal: this is a scenario where engaging your clutch pedal requires that you engage more force than necessary. When this happens, it is indicative of an existing problem. We advise that you rectify it immediately.
- Wear: a lot of what the clutch does is associated with friction. As earlier mention, wear can be caused as an adverse effect of this friction. This friction-based wear is caused by prolonged engagement of the clutch pedal.
- Fluid leak: a leak may occur and cause the fluids in the cylinders to undergo a shortage. This shortage means the adequate pressure will be absent required to help your clutch work efficiently.
- The air in the line: the phenomenon is common when air gets trapped in the space where fluids should be. The air present in the fluid column makes it impossible for the clutch to get enough pressure to function appropriately.
- Other problems include misalignment and broken cable.
Manual gears and clutching
Unlike most automatic transmission cars, manual transmission cars depend on clutching to engage gears to perform distinct functions.
Traditionally, manual transmission cars came with four (4) gears. However, over the years, more gears have been added. Very few vehicles have up to seven gears. Examples of such cars are the such as the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette. Furthermore, most cars used today are not 7 gears but 5-gear manual transmission cars. Nonetheless, cars with 6 gears are currently on the rise, and they will become rampant in a matter of time.
Notwithstanding, remember that the earlier gears were usually 4 in number. These cars were presumably seamless to drive in comparison with what we have today. However, an old technique known as "double-declutching" will have to be learned by today's driver to manipulate this gear system properly. This technique was prevalent back then because these 4-gear manual transmission cars did not have synchromesh gearboxes.
The clutch's design
Primarily, we must bring to your knowledge the design and how the clutch works. The clutch is a mechanical device in any manual vehicle that can transmit the rotational power generated from the engine to the wheels.
Simply put, the clutch is a significant part of the car that links two or more rotating shafts. The clutch of a manual vehicle controls the link between the shaft emanating from the engine and the shafts responsible for the wheels' motion.
As we all know, when the engine is running, it is generating power regularly or continuously, and its parts are in constant motion. However, the wheels of this same car will not move until the clutch pedal is engaged. Thus, the link between the clutch and the wheels temporarily breaks for the wheels not to move.
The clutch consists of two vital parts which include, the clutch plate and the flywheel. When you do not press the clutch pedal down with a manual car, what happens is a set of springs that places pressure on a pressure plate is pushed directly against the clutch plate.
The pressure it places on the springs also puts pressure on the flywheel. Therefore, when you press your clutch pedal down, the impact falls on a release fork, which with the help of multiple springs and pins, releases the pressure from the clutch plate. This process creates a disconnection between the running engine and the car's wheels.
By implication, this means the wheel won't stop abruptly but continue to spin, free from the momentum sponsored by the engine. At this point, where the clutch pedal is pressed down, they move by their rate. The clutch's design allows the driver to break the link from the engine in a bid to change gear. This break in connection inadvertently enables the driver to have great control over the speed of his vehicle.
Advantages of manual gears over automatic transmission
When it comes to picking between manual gears and automatics, it drops majorly to your preference. However, we are going to look at the advantages the manual gears pose over the automatics. Maybe you might fall in love with the manual gearboxes.
Firstly, if you have a personality that loves to control every move, then wait no more. The manual gears are for you. We can also weigh the fact that manual cars are cheap than automatics and consume less gas.
The gas consumption in automatic gearboxes denotes higher because they are heavier than their manual counterparts. The torque-converter automatic boxes need more energy to develop a hydraulic fluid resistance that helps move the engine's drive to the car wheels.
Manual cars are more comfortable to manipulate on muddy terrain or difficult conditions caused by unpleasant weather conditions. The ability to change gears manually helps the driving move faster over an obstacle with perfect timing. Whereas, with the automatic gears, the response is not as fast. You will most like to experience a little delay before the gears switch. The car might even end up selecting the wrong gear in this process.
In a manual transmission car, selecting a higher gear is seamless and more reliable than in automatics. Also, you can choose a lower gear without using your brakes. All you need to do is press your clutch pedal and switch to a lower gear. Notwithstanding, newer automatic transmission models have a manual mode or sport mode designed to help navigate effectively over such obstacles.
- The clutch pedal is always present in manual transmission cars. It is the third pedal from the right. The clutch pedal is pressed down when the driver intends to engage the gear. This action can be from a lower gear to a higher gear or a higher gear to a lower one.
- The clutch allows the car to change speed and bring the vehicle to a halt. In simpler words, this can happen with the engine still running.
- A manual transmission car is the best for drivers who love to control every move while driving. With the presence of the clutch pedal, the vehicle can switch cars more conveniently and faster.
- Improper engagement of the clutch pedal will wear it out. A driver must not strain the clutch to avoid such wear. Manual transmission cars today are commonly five (5) gears. Although the earlier years had predominantly four (4) gears.
- The rise of 6-gears manual transmission cars are becoming more apparent by the day. However, there are rare cases of vehicles with 7-gear manual transmission. Manual cars are cheaper and consume less gas when compared with automatics.