Any - Wondering about clutch life - scot22

Yesterday I saw a young driver motoring in an 'enthusiastic' style - lots of screetching. It made me wonder about car parts and longevity. Is there an average clutch life ? what are the main causes for it to wear out ?

Are all car parts affected by driving style or only particulat aspects ?

Any - Wondering about clutch life - RobJP

The key phrase is 'mechanical sympathy'.

I've once managed to 'glaze' a clutch, in horrible stop-start driving on the M62, heading up Saddleworth from rochdale.

Apart from that, I've done probably in excess of a million miles in the last 30 years, and never broken anything. I took an Audi A6 2.5 diesel (clutch and DMF) from 0 to 147k miles in about 3 years without anything going wrong with it, the clutch biting point felt as good on the last day as on the first.

In contrast, I know of someone who managed to kill a clutch in about 5k miles. They claimed it must have been faulty - and then killed the replacement in about 6k miles.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - V4 Heaven

My mum has a habit of going through clutches quite quickly, say 20-30,000 miles, and I took the opportunity to jump in her car with her one day.

Apart from it being a generally scary experience, I noticed that she rode the clutch a lot, especially in traffic and when at uphill junctions; she also slipped the clutch to gain momentum when driving too slowly for that gear.

I have been a bit unsympathetic with mine in the past - I've had my car for 15 years and it's now adjusted the point of it not being adjusted any more, so it's clearly on it's last legs. The traffic light GPs have reduced significantly and I have owned the car from 46,000 miles to the current 232,000 without ever having to change the clutch. For all I know, it may be the original!

When I hear clutches needing replacement before 50,000 miles, I'm always a bit sceptical about how the car has been driven. Replacement clutches can vary in their quality and OE items are expensive.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - craig-pd130

My mum has a habit of going through clutches quite quickly, say 20-30,000 miles, and I took the opportunity to jump in her car with her one day.

Apart from it being a generally scary experience, I noticed that she rode the clutch a lot, especially in traffic and when at uphill junctions; she also slipped the clutch to gain momentum when driving too slowly for that gear.

Nearly 200K miles on a clutch is excellent :)

I suppose it's possible to kill a friction plate in 20 minutes if you try hard enough, but it's interesting that your mum manages to get 20,000+ miles out of a clutch despite abusing it in the way you describe.

SWMBO doesn't use the clutch / 1st gear as a handbrake on hills, nor does she slip the clutch unnecessarily but she does leave her left foot on the pedal, which I try not to mention when she's driving.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - scot22

Thanks for the informative posts. It really shows the range there can be : mainly dependent it seems on 'mechanical sympathy' but also to some extent differences in quality of material.

All the useful things I've found out from being on the forum makes me wonder why our 'education' system doesn't include more about what might be worth knowing in real life. Can't remember the last time I needed to find out a cube root.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - gordonbennet

Driving style obviously makes a difference to component life, but design plays a more important role in my opinion.

As we're on clutches, the life of them depends to a great extent on the tractability of the engine the gearing and the weight and type of use of the car fitted, i've driven heavy 4x4's that had no torque worth diddly below turbo spool up revs and too high first gear in high range, (fine in low for offroad), these quickly developed a reputation for heavy clutch wear, which the designers and maker's road testers should have highlighted and the problem fixed...thats just one example but there are many such cars out there, if you use such a design for towing or even heavy traffic use then regular clutch changes will be required, the same car if on motorway runs would be completely different.

I'm sure we've all driven underpowered cars or cars lacking any grunt at low revs in our time and winced at how cruelly we had to drive the things in order to make safe normal progress.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - badbusdriver

One thing I remember my driving instructor telling me was to not 'rest' your left foot against the clutch pedal. Even a gentle pressure against it can adversely affect the clutch life. Which is something that has stuck with me in the intervening 30 years!.

I use an '06 transit connect for my work, got it about 7 years ago with 60k miles. I did have to change the clutch about 4 years ago, but that wasn't very long after an incident which, in hindsight, was probably unwise!. My brother, who was a mobile car valeter at the time, had broken down at a customers house with his swb Renault Master van, phoned me and asked if I could tow him to the garage he used, a distance of about 15 miles over some country roads. I agreed. However, my connect had a full 500l tank of water (I'm a window cleaner), and his master had about 350l. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when my clutch started slipping shortly after!

Any - Wondering about clutch life - skidpan

Back in the 70's and into the early 80's I used to get approx 40,000 miles out of a clutch regardless of brand of car.

Move into the 80's and never needed to replace a clutch since. One Golf we had did nearly 100,000 miles before leaking diff seals required the box to come off to sort it. While it was in bits seemed rude not to chamge the clutch, trade for a LUK/Valeo kit was approx £50 at the time. When we looked at the original we were stunned, it was in excellent shape, probably the same life left in it.

What made it more remarkable was the fact the car had been used to tow the Caterham on a trailer at least 20 times a year to meetings for 6 years, probably 20,000 + miles with over a ton on the back.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - Andrew-T

Back in the 70's and into the early 80's I used to get approx 40,000 miles out of a clutch regardless of brand of car.

I've driven since 1963 and have not needed to even consider changing a clutch yet. Even the Morris 1100 I sold on in 1970-ish at 70K was still on its original clutch at 90K. I accept that if you drive in a hilly area lots of hill starts will make a difference.

On the other hand, my father-in-law used to go through his quite quickly. And it wasn't hilly.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - Bromptonaut

One thing I remember my driving instructor telling me was to not 'rest' your left foot against the clutch pedal. Even a gentle pressure against it can adversely affect the clutch life. Which is something that has stuck with me in the intervening 30 years!.

My driving instructor said same thing. Wears release mechanism so clutch fails in mode where plates won't clear. Gearchanges become, in quick sucession, baulky then impossible.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - Terry W

I last replaced a clutch 40+ years ago so have probably covered around 800k with no mishaps - mostly not new cars but typically 3-10 years old with between 50-150k on the clock.

I think there are a few basic rules for long clutch life:

- don't ride the clutch

- don't use clutch as a handbrake

- wherever possible let out clutch at low revs

- smooth gear changes (no jerking the dive train)

- city driving and frequent gear changes kills clutches (depends where you need to go)

The reverse is also true - kill the clutch by holding car on hills and in queues using clutch, boy racer starts, extensive city driving, jerky changes etc

Any - Wondering about clutch life - RichT54

A few months ago I started experiencing what appeared to be a very noticeable clutch judder on my A3 1.4TFSI. It became very difficult to pull away cleanly and I was very disappointed as the car had only done about 26,000 miles at the time and worried that I would need to have the clutch replaced. It was most noticeable when attempting to pull away while the engine was cold.

I had been running the car almost exclusively on Shell V-power unleaded for some time. However, when the price started creeping up a bit, I switched to the standard Shell unleaded and, almost immediately, the juddering went away. After a couple of tanks of normal unleaded, I tried some V-Power again and the juddering came back. Switched back to standard unleaded and it stopped again.

Since then I've stuck with standard unleaded and it's been fine as well as saving money. I'm not sure what was happening, maybe it's an engine management issue, but I've not seen any other reports of similar happenings. At least the clutch appears to be OK.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - John F

Beware LHD designs converted to RHD. Our 1983 Passat GL5's clutch was still OK at 192,000m when it was sold but it snapped the release cable every 40,000m or so, because it had to be routed around a pulley, which caused metal fatigue in the cable fibres from being repetitively bent and straightened. For LHD cars it was a shorter cable with a straight pull.

On occasion, the ability to drive without a clutch without wrecking the gearbox was a useful asset!

Any - Wondering about clutch life - Pondlife

I've never had to replace a clutch in any of the manual cars I've owned. I've heard of slipping clutches, so maybe I've been lucky, or perhaps it's mecahnical sympathy.

My manual cars were:

1980 (W Reg) Ford Cortina 1.6. I think I took that from around 50k miles when I bought it to just over 100k miles when I sold it.

1985 Ford Sierra 1.8. I took that from around 30k when I bought it to around 95k when I sold it.

1990 Toyota MR2 2.0. I had that from new up to about 150k miles.

I've had autos after that, although I occasionally drive my daughter's manual Fiat 500 1.4, which is at 55k miles and not showing any clutch problems.

I'm sure clutches do wear, but it seems to be one of those things that may happen once in a car's lifetime if that. But I'm sure that how you drive it has a lot to do with the clutch lifetime.

It may also be a factor that all of my manual cars have been NA petrols.

It may be interesting to ask taxi drivers. They will probably do enough milage in any given car to tell you how long a clutch lasts, and a lot of their milage will be around town where there's a lot of clutch usage.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - scot22

Many thanks for all the interesting and informative posts. Some interesting things to investigate as well.

I suspect the basic principle for looking after a car is 'mechanical sympathy'.

My driving motto is 'Safe and Smooth : Calm and Confident' - don't always manage, and I'll add to my mind 'mechanical sympathy'

Any - Wondering about clutch life - Smileyman

only ever experienced one car which needed a new clutch, back in the early 80's, Datsun Cherry .... yours truly and 2 brothers had learnt to drive on this car so 3 teenagers managed to wear it down to an early replacement ..... must have learnt well, previous car reached 172k, current car on 185k, various other cars in between, all on original clutch.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - gordonbennet

I've bought cars very cheaply over past years that needed new clutches or other work, reason being no money to spare and don't do credit, often enough if the pressure plate wasn't scored i could get the driven plate refaced for a tenner.

I'm amazed by how many people still hold the vehicle on the clutch at junctions, white van drivers mainly.

Any - Wondering about clutch life - corax

I'm amazed by how many people still hold the vehicle on the clutch at junctions, white van drivers mainly.

Company vans no doubt, if it was their own business it's a surefire way of throwing money down the drain.

Diesels give you a false sense that everything will be robust enough to take the punishment, it's far more likely that the clutches will wear out from the high torque.

I've never had to replace a clutch. The only car where I thought I might have to was a Mk2 Escort. It was a 2.0 litre Pinto conversion done badly and after I'd owned it for a few months there was a squeal when I pressed the clutch pedal. It sounded like the release bearing, but when I took it in to the garage they found that the bell housing bolts were loose. I tightened them up, no more noise.

Still had great fun in that car even though it was probably a death trap.

 

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