Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving

DEFENSIVE > CONTROLS > CLUTCH

Clutch

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In a manual transmission, proper use of the clutch can make for a smoother drive and save on unnecessary expenses.

🛈 Info:

💡 Tips:

Question:

Defensive Controls Clutch

🛈 How a car clutch works

The clutch in a car is an important component that allows for the transfer of power from the engine to the wheels. It enables the driver to engage and disengage the engine's power from the transmission, allowing for smooth gear changes and control over the vehicle's speed. Here's a general overview of how a car clutch works:

  • Clutch Components: The clutch system consists of several components, including the clutch pedal, clutch disc, pressure plate, flywheel, release bearing, and clutch fork. These components work together to engage or disengage the clutch.

  • Clutch Pedal Activation: When you press the clutch pedal with your foot, it engages a hydraulic or cable mechanism that activates the clutch system.

  • Clutch Disc Engagement: The clutch disc is located between the engine flywheel and the transmission input shaft. When the clutch pedal is pressed, the pressure plate, which is connected to the clutch pedal, releases the pressure on the clutch disc. This disengages the clutch, allowing the engine's power to be disconnected from the transmission.

  • Gear Changes: With the clutch disengaged, you can shift gears using the gear lever. Each gear corresponds to a different ratio between the engine and the wheels, determining the speed and power output of the vehicle.

  • Clutch Disc Disengagement: To engage the clutch and transfer power from the engine to the wheels, you gradually release the clutch pedal. As you do this, the pressure plate applies pressure on the clutch disc, sandwiching it between the flywheel and pressure plate. This re-engages the clutch, allowing power to flow from the engine to the transmission and ultimately to the wheels.

  • Smooth Engagement: Releasing the clutch pedal smoothly and gradually is important for a smooth engagement. If the clutch pedal is released too quickly, it can cause a sudden jolt or stall the engine. Proper coordination between releasing the clutch pedal and applying the throttle is necessary to achieve a smooth transition and prevent excessive wear on the clutch components.

The clutch system requires proper maintenance and adjustment to ensure its smooth operation and longevity. Over time, the clutch disc may wear out and require replacement, and the clutch system may need periodic adjustments or hydraulic fluid replacement. Consulting your vehicle's owner's manual and seeking assistance from a qualified mechanic can provide specific information about your car's clutch system and maintenance requirements.

💡 Tips on using the clutch

  • Mastering clutch control for a smooth and progressive operation will contribute to a comfortable ride and prevent the vehicle from hopping or stalling.

  • If the vehicle is about to stall, immediately depress the clutch.

  • On an incline, do not 'ride' the clutch to keep the car in position. This will quickly wear out the clutch and will be an unnecessary expense to replace.

  • Before changing gear, press the clutch fully, not partially, otherwise this will likely 'grate' the gears.

  • Get into the habit of pressing the clutch fully before starting the engine. It serves as an added precaution should the vehicle be in gear.

  • Make sure the clutch is also fully depressed when stopping, once again to prevent hopping or stalling, should the car be in gear.

? Do all cars have a clutch?

No, not all cars have a clutch in the traditional sense. Most cars with manual transmissions have a clutch, which allows the driver to manually engage and disengage the engine's power from the transmission. However, many modern cars are equipped with automatic transmissions, which operate differently and do not require manual clutch engagement.

Here are the main types of transmissions found in cars:

  • Manual Transmission: In a manual transmission, the driver uses a clutch pedal to engage or disengage the engine's power from the transmission. It requires the driver to manually shift gears using a gear lever. Manual transmissions offer more control and are typically found in sports cars, performance vehicles, and some economy cars.

  • Automatic Transmission: Automatic transmissions do not have a clutch pedal, and the gear shifting is done automatically based on the vehicle's speed, engine load, and other factors. The transmission system uses a torque converter instead of a clutch to transfer power from the engine to the transmission. Most modern cars, including sedans, SUVs, and trucks, are equipped with automatic transmissions for ease of use and convenience.

  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT): CVT is a type of automatic transmission that doesn't use traditional gears but instead uses a belt or chain and pulleys to provide an infinite number of gear ratios. It offers smooth acceleration and better fuel efficiency compared to conventional automatic transmissions. CVTs are commonly found in smaller cars, hybrids, and some larger vehicles.

  • Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT): A dual-clutch transmission is a type of automated manual transmission that combines the efficiency of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic transmission. It uses two separate clutches to engage and disengage gears, allowing for quick and seamless gear shifts. DCTs are often found in performance-oriented vehicles.

It's important to note that while cars without a traditional clutch system offer convenience and ease of use, they still have a clutch mechanism within their transmission system. However, the clutch operation is automated and controlled by the vehicle's computer system, eliminating the need for the driver to manually engage or disengage the clutch.

? What can I do if the clutch fails?

This is an interesting technique, that actually works, which I have had the personal experience of.

  • If you are stationary, make sure the engine is switched off.

  • Put the car in first gear.

  • Switch the engine on, holding the ignition until the engine takes.

  • The car will hop until the engine starts propelling it smoothly.

  • When needing to change gears (whether up or down), move the gear to 'neutral' by taking your foot off the accelerator and put pressure on the gear lever until it slides out of gear.

  • Then rev the engine and then take your foot off the gas pedal.

  • Hold the gear lever with a slight pressure (not too hard), against the gear that you want to change to and keep the pressure there.

  • When the engine revs drop to the correct RPM, you will find that the gear lever easily slides into gear.

  • Repeat for each gear change.

  • Before stopping, make sure the gear is in neutral.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving