On this lesson, you’ll focus on learning more about what the clutch is and how to use it.
- how to use clutch control to move slowly
- how to move away uphill
- how to move away downhill
WHAT IS THE CLUTCH
The clutch is the connection between the engine and the gear box / wheels.
The clutch pedal is on the far left.
You need to press the clutch pedal down:
- just before you change gear
- just before you stop the car
To use the clutch pedal:
Press it all the way down with your left foot to separate the 2 clutch plates.
One clutch plate is connected to the engine and is spinning all the time the engine is turned on.
The other clutch plate is connected to the wheels and is only spinning when it is held against the first plate.
When the clutch pedal is down the plates are separated so you can’t get power to the wheels to move the car.
When the clutch pedal is up, the clutch plates are together and, if the car is in gear (not in neutral) you can get power to the wheels to move the car.
You must bring the clutch pedal up smoothly. You are connecting the plate that is spinning and the plate that is not spinning together.
If you bring the clutch pedal up too quickly you are bringing the plates together too quickly. This can make the car judder or stall (stalling is when the engine cuts out).
This is when the 2 clutch plates have just started to connect together.
You know you have got to biting point because:
- you can hear the engine tone dip
- the engine revs will drop
- the car bonnet starts to lift
You’ll learn to easily judge exactly when you have got to biting point with practice.
Being able to know when you are at biting point is essential to good clutch control. You will practice this in your driving lesson. Your instructor has a few exercises that will help.
You will practice moving the car very slowly.
To do this you will:
- press the clutch pedal all the way down
- select 1st gear
- set some gas – until the engine revs are at about 1500 rpm
- raise the clutch pedal until you get to biting point
- check it’s safe to move, and then release the handbrake
- the car should be moving very slowly now – keep your feet still
- if you raise the clutch pedal by ‘a bit’, the car will go a little faster
- if you lower the clutch pedal by ‘a bit’, the car will go a little slower
At this slow speed you are controlling the speed of the car with the clutch pedal, not the gas!
This is a vital skill for parking, reversing, moving along in slow moving traffic and approaching junctions.
Clutch Down – Slows the Car Down
Clutch Up – Speeds the Car Up
(How much is ‘a bit’? Look at how thick a pound coin is? That is what is meant by ‘a bit’)
The car needs a little extra gas and a high biting point to move away uphill. You don’t want the car to roll backwards!
To move away uphill, you will:
- press the clutch down and select 1st gear
- set more gas than normal, this will depend on how steep the hill is
- bring the clutch pedal up till you are at a slightly higher biting point then normal
- check it’s safe to move away
- lift the parking brake and release the button while you press a little more gas
- put the parking brake down a little while you release the clutch ‘a bit’
- if the car holds or starts to move, put the parking brake all the way down
- if the car rolls back slightly put the handbrake back on and try again
Your instructor’s car may have ‘Hill-Start Assist’ that will help when you move away on a hill. Even so, you will learn how to do a hill start…your own car might not have this feature and it’s a vital skill to have.
The car does not need any gas or bite to move away downhill. Gravity will get the car moving.
To move away downhill, you will:
- press the clutch down and select the appropriate gear depending on how steep the hill is, this may be 2nd gear.
- Keep the clutch down and press the brake pedal firmly
- Release the parking brake – the car will not move because you still have the footbrake applied
- check it’s safe to move away
- release the footbrake
- bring the clutch pedal up smoothly as the car starts to move away