LEARNING CLUTCH CONTROL
Clutch control is important to avoid stalling, being able to pull away smoothly, control the speed of the pull away and to be able to pull away efficiently on a hill. Manoeuvres also require a high level of clutch control by keeping the car at an incredibly slow steady speed so that you are in control.
To work the clutch –
Depress the clutch fully and select first gear.
Provide the engine with a little extra power if necessary by very gently pressing the accelerator so that the rev counter reads around 1500 rpm.
Ensure before your car moves that it is safe to do so and now very slowly, raise the clutch.
When the clutch plates just start to meet, this is called the biting point. You will know it’s the at the bite point when the car will slowly start to move. The bite point will always be in the same place for that particular car. The key here is with plenty of practice is to remember where the bite point is. You may wish to practice finding the bite with the handbrake on and try holding the bite then depressing the clutch and repeat the process until you feel confident with it.
With the handbrake off and the fact that you have found the bite point, the car is slowly starting to move forward, now fully depress the clutch and gently brake to a stop. Keep repeating the process by giving the engine a little power and very slowly lifting the clutch till the car starts to move and fully depressing the clutch. By repeating this, you will gain an understanding where the bite point occurs.
Once you have got the hang of that, try it again but instead of fully depressing the clutch once the car starts to move, press the clutch just a small amount. By doing this you are slightly releasing the clutch plates, disengaging the wheels and letting the car slow down. As soon as the car has slowed slightly, lift the clutch around the same point again to move the car once more. Essentially what you are trying to achieve is to keep the car moving but at the slowest possible speed. We call this creeping forward and is required to perform the driving manoeuvres as well as emerging from Junctions.
MOVING A CAR OFF QUICKLY
To move off quickly you will need to first find the bite, hold it and then provide significantly more gas/revs to the engine. By providing more gas, in the region of 2500 rpm, you are able to bring the clutch up faster without fear of stalling. This will enable you to move the car off much faster in situations such as busy roundabouts and pulling out of junctions. Be a little cautious however as giving the car too much gas and releasing the clutch too fast may result in the wheels spining
More advanced clutch control techniques will need to be mastered for holding the car steady on the clutch bite point. These techniques are important for safely moving a car off on a hill.
CLUTCH CONTROL ON A HILL
If you stop on a hill, the process is similar to above, except you will require the use of the handbrake. Once stopped:
Apply the handbrake and select first gear.
Provide the engine with a little extra power, again around 1500 rpm to 2000 rpm on the rev counter.
Gently raise the clutch until you reach the bite point. You will know when you have the bite point as the car may creak a little or the bonnet may rise slightly as the car tries to move forward but cannot due to the handbrake being applied.
Provided you have the clutch bite point, the car will not roll backwards when you release the handbrake.
CLUTCH CONTROL IN TRAFFIC
During driving lessons and the driving test, there will be plenty of occasions that you stop in traffic. Look well ahead for any indication that the traffic is starting to move. This can be traffic lights changing ahead or through other car windows. This will better prepare you to move the car off and less likely to stall. Try to get into the habit of fully depressing the clutch while stationary and finding the bite point just before moving off. This will reduce the wear and tear of the clutch or the possible clutch burning.
CLUTCH CONTROL AT JUNCTIONS
During the driving test, you will likely be taken through many different types of junctions. Often the most challenging are closed junction. A closed junction is very difficult to observe and approaching traffic as there are often obstacles blocking your view.
These can be tree’s, bushes, fences etc. A high level of clutch control is required at these types of junctions as you will need the ability to move forward very slowly. Fractionally pressing the clutch just under the bite point to slow the car and lifting very slightly to move forward. The technique for Learning clutch control should be employed in such instances. We call this creep and peak. Quick and constant observations should be made and the ability to quickly depress the clutch and brake if there is need to stop.
SLIPPING THE CLUTCH
Slipping the clutch is referred to when the clutch is lowered and raised in the bite point area to keep the car moving slowly. Slipping the clutch is used when moving very slowly in traffic or when performing driving manoeuvres such as the Parralel Park.
RIDING THE CLUTCH
Whilst driving at a steady speed on a clear road, ideally the driver should remove their foot from resting on the clutch and place it on the foot well floor or a dead pedal (place to rest your foot) if the vehicle has one. If a driver rests the foot on the clutch whilst driving, this is referred to riding the clutch. Clutches contain a clutch release bearing which applies pressure to the pressure plates to aid releasing the clutch plates. Resting your foot on the clutch can cause wear on the release bearing and too much pressure can cause the plates themselves to slip, causing significant wear to the clutch plate friction material.
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