The main thing to remember is that clutches wear out. They wear out surprisingly slowly, considered the massive forces they endure during operation, but they will eventually go.
Predicting how long a clutch will last is a much trickier question, as there are so many variables. As a few of our blog posts have highlighted, there are ways to make your clutch last longer by adjusting your driving style – indeed driving style is the biggest factor in how many miles you will get out of your clutch. There are stories of drivers getting over 100,000miles out of their clutches, while others get less than 30,000 miles – I’m sure if you went for a passenger ride with these drivers you would notice distinct differences in their approach to driving.
Also the brand of car, clutch and other components will also be a variable. With no clutch change listed in the paperwork when it was purchased, my BMW E46 now has over 149,000 miles – still on the original clutch… I’m expecting to give A1 Clutches a call any day now! There will be other brands where the clutches wear sooner no doubt; it is just the way things are.
Roughly speaking, 170,000 miles is just about the top of the life expectancy range although this is assuming quality parts are used and the vehicle is driven properly. So how many years does that equate to for you? Motorway miles will be kinder on the clutch than the constant stop start of urban town driving, so also bear this in mind.
To reiterate some pointers, if you haven’t seen our earlier posts on how to increase the lifespan of your clutch, include:
Don’t use the clutch more than you have. If you are sitting at lights, or in traffic, don’t keep the clutch pressed in – slip the car into neutral if you are expecting to be sat there for longer than 10 seconds. The impact of re-engaging a gear after this amount of time will be less harmful to the clutch than sitting there with the pedal down.
Do not ride the clutch – either as you are changing gear or as a way to control the speed of your car. That’s what the accelerator and brakes are for. Don’t keep the clutch in the position of neither in nor out for any longer than you have to, doing this could potentially add years to the life of your clutch.
Take it easy with the accelerator when you change gear – let the gear engage before giving the accelerator the full gas. Also change at an appropriate speed wherever possible – 20mph for 3rd gear, 30mph for 4th gear and so on. Change gear around the 2,500 revolutions per minute point to extend the life of your clutch and also to make your driving more fuel efficient.
Follow these rules, and the general rules of keeping on top of your car maintenance needs, to increase the life of your clutch significantly. As the clutch is a key part of the transmission train in your vehicle, taking these steps to look after it will also help the other transmission components too – these things do not operate in silos. Me? I’m going to continue to drive sensibly, and take care of my aging clutch and see just how miles it can go for! (This is not advised! Changing your clutch when it is necessary will make sure your other drivetrain components are looked after.)