When you drive a manual transmission vehicle, the clutch is one of the most sensitive and important pieces of equipment in your car. It will naturally wear out over time, but some of the silly habits we have as drivers can also decrease performance and lead to a shorter clutch lifespan.

The good news is that there are some habits that you can try to correct and simple ideas you can implement in order to make your car, truck or van’s clutch last as long as possible. Here are 5 easy tips for clutch care:

1. Don’t Leave Your Foot on the Clutch

This is the best tip, but it can be a hard habit to break. If you “ride” the clutch all the time with your left foot (even just applying the tiniest bit of pressure as you hover over it), it will really put unnecessary strain and wear on the entire clutch assembly. The clutch pedal should either be pressed all the way down to the bottom or completely untouched. Anything in between at any time will shorten its lifespan for sure.

2. Come to Steady Stops

If you see a red light ahead or a slow down in traffic, slowly and steadily get ready for a stop and shift down as needed. Oftentimes, you’ll find that the green light may turn or traffic will keep flowing ahead of you and you won’t always have to come to a complete stop. This allows you to avoid clutch slippage and keep the engine idling smoother.

3. Don’t Abuse Your Clutch on Uphill Starts

If you are stopped on an incline, use your hand/parking break to keep the car still while you engage the clutch and put the vehicle into gear. If you just hold the clutch down and roll backward while waiting for first gear to engage, it will put a lot of strain on the clutch and gear box.

4. Pull Away Smoothly

Unless you are in a race, there’s no need to take off at full speed. Pull away smoothly and gently, and shift up naturally as you increase speed/RPMs. Your clutch will thank you for it!

5. Don’t Use Your Clutch to Help with Braking

When you downshift smoothly and apply the brakes properly when coming to a slow down or full stop, it will put less force on the clutch assembly. It is one more way to extend the lifespan of your clutch. Just remember that new brake pads are much less expensive than a new clutch!

For more help with your vehicle’s clutch maintenance, clutch repairs or clutch replacement, call Ralph’s Transmission, your transmission shop in Modesto, at 209.526.1909 or schedule a service appointment online. We’re experts in clutches and all things transmission, so let us help you with your clutch repair needs.