When shifting through the gears in a manual transmission properly, the driver will shift to another gear while engaging/pressing down the clutch pedal. After the gear selection and change has been made, the clutch is released. If the pedal is released quickly, a definite lurch can be felt as the engine and driveshaft re-engage and their speeds equalize. However, if the clutch is released slowly the clutch disc will “slip” against the flywheel; this friction permits the engine a smoother transition to its new rotation speed. This routine slippage is normal and does cause genuine every-day wear-and-tear. Some amount of wear is unavoidable, but with better clutch and gear-shifting technique it can be minimized.
Excessive wear occurs when the driver “rides the clutch”. When riding the clutch , the driver will rest their foot on the clutch pedal while driving. This will partially depress the clutch and wear it out prematurely. This needless clutch-riding will leave the clutch partially disengaged and will result in the clutch being unable to fully engage with the flywheel, causing premature wear on the disc. Riding the clutch provides just enough pressure to keep the release bearing against the release springs. This causes the bearing to remain spinning, which leads to premature bearing failure.
The act of riding the clutch is distinctively different from the normal use of a clutch, and is also different to the highly stressful practice of fully engaging the clutch too quickly.
At the risk of being ageist and sexist, riding the clutch is often done by nervous old ladies who are afraid that they may stall at any moment. Riding the clutch leads to a condition referred to in our family as “grandmother’s clutch” – something to be aware of when the car salesperson vows that the car has had the stereotypical little old lady owner.We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is Riding The Clutch?’!
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