Proper care and feeding of your clutch

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Taking good care of your clutches is incredibly important. Image from Flickr.

If you are one of the 18 percent of drivers in the United States who drives a car with a clutch, taking good care of that clutch is important. Taking a second look at your driving practices could end up saving you thousands of dollars. Your clutch does have a lifetime, but extending it can be relatively easy. Just taking a look at three of the biggest clutch-driving mistakes and fixing them can extend the life by months, if not years.

Shifting at the right time

A clutch is used to shift gears while your engine is running. Changing those gears at the right time will help reduce the wear and tear on the clutch — and make your engine run better. On most vehicles, you want to shift up when the engine RPMs are at about 3,000 to 4,000. When braking, downshift the engine before you apply the brake – it will help prevent wear and tear on both your clutch and your brakes.

Where to rest your feet

It can be very tempting to rest your foot on the clutch pedal while you’re driving. If you rest your foot on that third pedal, though, you are putting pressure on the mechanism. That pressure will slowly but surely grind down your clutch. So keep your foot off that pedal if you’re not using it.

Park it safely

When you park your vehicle on a hill, you should put it in gear to help keep it from rolling. However, you should never rely on just the gears to keep it there. Always use your emergency brake along with either reverse or first gear. If your engine pressure is low or the gears are slipping, not using the emergency brake could mean you end up chasing your vehicle down the hill. Be safe and always use the emergency brake.

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