Clutch control on start

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amicachips
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Clutch control on start

Postby amicachips » Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:35 pm

Hi everybody,

I'm new to this community, I'm posting here because I think there are a lot of stick shift veterans around.

I bought a new car, a Fiat Panda 2009 1.2 LPG with 60 HP. It's from a while that I own this car; and I have a question about the clutch control on launching (or start).

From what I know (from driving school), the clutch will ruin if:

1) It's slightly pressed uselessly (e.g: riding the clutch)
2) It's used to keep the car balanced on hill (too many heat generated and so wear)
3) On starting up, it remains too much on the friction point and/or the engine is revved up excessively durning this
4) On downshifting, it's not used properly (e.g: shifting with too much rev for the selected gear; III->II)
5) On starting up, using other gears rather than the I

My mechanic says the clutch is like break pads; it's a wear item and don't worry too much about it. But I want to make it last as long as possible; my question is: sometimes I still press first accelerator and then raise up the clutch to friction point (never more than 1200-1400 rpms) and only for 2-3 seconds or I don't raise the clutch up quite enough but in the meanwhile I rev the engine up.

Other times (70%), I'm able to start correctly (e.g: balancing the two pedals at the same time), but it seems to me that when reversing I should always rev up a little more with the clutch to friction point (some seconds and low rpms, though) because I can't raise it up or car will speed up too much (every morining I do this to get the car out from the box where I park it).

On other times, e.g. when I change my shoes, I tend to rev it up but don't raise the clutch up enough to get the car moving (some seconds thought)

I know the first alarm from the clutch is the bad smell, and luckly I haven't never heard it till now. Am I ruining it? Or am I doing fine for now?

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby MH86 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:01 pm

amicachips wrote:Hi everybody,

I'm new to this community, I'm posting here because I think there are a lot of stick shift veterans around.

I bought a new car, a Fiat Panda 2009 1.2 LPG with 60 HP. It's from a while that I own this car; and I have a question about the clutch control on launching (or start).

From what I know (from driving school), the clutch will ruin if:

1) It's slightly pressed uselessly (e.g: riding the clutch)
2) It's used to keep the car balanced on hill (too many heat generated and so wear)
3) On starting up, it remains too much on the friction point and/or the engine is revved up excessively durning this
4) On downshifting, it's not used properly (e.g: shifting with too much rev for the selected gear; III->II)
5) On starting up, using other gears rather than the I

Hi amicachips, welcome to the forum! I'm fairly new here myself, but I can answer a few of your questions. SS veterans, please correct me if I'm giving incorrect advice:

1-4 will definitely wear the clutch out sooner. 5 will too, although I have heard of people starting out in 2nd gear in snowy/icy weather (not sure how relevant this is with traction/stability control in most cars nowadays).

My mechanic says the clutch is like break pads; it's a wear item and don't worry too much about it. But I want to make it last as long as possible; my question is: sometimes I still press first accelerator and then raise up the clutch to friction point (never more than 1200-1400 rpms) and only for 2-3 seconds or I don't raise the clutch up quite enough but in the meanwhile I rev the engine up.

1200-1400 RPM for 2-3 seconds is a perfectly acceptable launch, one that should not cause undue wear to the clutch. Especially with a 1.2 liter 60HP engine. There's nothing wrong with revving the engine a bit before letting up on the clutch. For what it's worth, I rev my engine (VW Jetta with a 1.4 liter 140 HP turbo engine) to around 1500 RPM for a typical start. In time, you'll find yourself using less revs when starting (I find that happening with me every so often), but don't rush it. Enjoy driving the car; your feet will eventually know what to do in the most efficient manner.

Other times (70%), I'm able to start correctly (e.g: balancing the two pedals at the same time), but it seems to me that when reversing I should always rev up a little more with the clutch to friction point (some seconds and low rpms, though) because I can't raise it up or car will speed up too much (every morining I do this to get the car out from the box where I park it).

Reversing is done for very short stretches at very low speeds, so there's really no way to avoid revving the engine a bit and holding the clutch at the friction point when reversing. As long as you're not revving the engine excessively (1200-1500 RPM on level ground should be more than sufficient), you're not going to wear out the clutch.

On other times, e.g. when I change my shoes, I tend to rev it up but don't raise the clutch up enough to get the car moving (some seconds thought)

We can't all be perfect with raising the clutch quickly every single time. As long as you're not making a habit of doing that every time, you'll be fine. As a new manual driver, I too am quite affected when I'm wearing different footwear. If there's a particular pair of shoes you find you drive best with, you might want to make sure you always drive with them for now.

I know the first alarm from the clutch is the bad smell, and luckly I haven't never heard it till now. Am I ruining it? Or am I doing fine for now?

If you experience burning clutch, you will immediately notice it. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've invoked that horrible smell a few times in the past 3 months on some hill starts. If you do smell burning clutch, just make sure to be more gentle on the clutch.

All in all though, clutches these days are supposed to be fairly durable (but I wouldn't test its durability by, for example, using it to keep the car steady on a hill for an entire red light). Since you're taking the time to ask these questions, I'm sure you will end up being very kind to your clutch once you're used to the car.

Have fun driving (safely, I should add) and try not to overthink things (easier said than done in some cases, though, such as mine). Also, try not to expect too much from yourself; it will take some time for your to get used to the car and the amount of time it takes each person will vary greatly.

Finally, feel free to ask any questions. The people on this forum are a friendly bunch, and they've helped me a great amount.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby theholycow » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:40 pm

^Good advice.

Please note that we can advise you on technical issues with our experience but there may be some vague differences since most (all?) here on this forum are in the US, and it sounds like you might be in Europe. We do not have experience with your car, or even anything similar to it. There is nothing here similar to a 60HP LPG 900kg city car, and if someone tried to market one here they probably wouldn't even offer it with a manual transmission. Further, since automatics are so prevalent and manuals are so rare, we have a very different cultural attitude towards them, as well as different costs for mechanics to work on them. Your mechanic probably replaces clutches every day, and your parts stores probably are fully stocked with many clutches.

Anyway, remember this: Whatever is necessary is acceptable. The things you listed in 1 through 5 seem like mostly unnecessary things. The things you describe that you do are necessary for you, so the car will just have to tolerate them. The car is there to do what you need it to do. Try to be the best driver you can, but don't worry about requiring the car to do its job.
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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby Rope-Pusher » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:12 pm

theholycow wrote:^Good advice.

Please note that we can advise you on technical issues with our experience but there may be some vague differences since most (all?) here on this forum are in the US, and it sounds like you might be in Europe. We do not have experience with your car, or even anything similar to it. There is nothing here similar to a 60HP LPG 900kg city car, and if someone tried to market one here they probably wouldn't even offer it with a manual transmission. Further, since automatics are so prevalent and manuals are so rare, we have a very different cultural attitude towards them, as well as different costs for mechanics to work on them. Your mechanic probably replaces clutches every day, and your parts stores probably are fully stocked with many clutches.

Anyway, remember this: Whatever is necessary is acceptable. The things you listed in 1 through 5 seem like mostly unnecessary things. The things you describe that you do are necessary for you, so the car will just have to tolerate them. The car is there to do what you need it to do. Try to be the best driver you can, but don't worry about requiring the car to do its job.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby IMBoring25 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:23 pm

3 and 5 aren't going to be seriously damaging provided you don't make a habit of them.

1 is very damaging over time. Any time you are not actively shifting or launching, your left foot should be on the floor or dead pedal (if your car is equipped with same).

2 is also very damaging over time. Anything more than an extra second or two beyond normal launching, you should be using the brakes to hold the vehicle in place. You can stretch that a little once you've developed the skill of slipping the clutch at idle RPM, but it's still not ideal.

5 is sometimes suggested for launching in snow and/or ice, but I don't really see the use in a manual, where your left foot can deliver any portion of the engine's torque from 0 to 100% just by how you operate the clutch.

Work gradually to lower your RPM and stay on the clutch less time, but the car can take the learning process. Many here (myself included) suggest going to a large open parking lot and practicing no-gas launches to drill clutch technique without the distraction of the throttle. It might be interesting with that car, but it should still do it.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby amicachips » Tue Aug 16, 2016 3:05 am

Thanks for the replies.

I'm in Europe but I usually travel in the US (every two weeks) for work purposes. I googled and found this forum casually. I like to improve my stick shift skills.

I'm aware EU and US have different culture on almost everything, cars included. But stick shift is the same on almost all cars (technically).

I have already done the no-gas excercise, my car starts to move but it's really slow and pointless for normal street drive. Though, I know it's needed only to learn; my car isn't so bad, even if it's a bi-fuel car (gasoline/LPG) it has a good torque, even on lower gears (sometimes it seems to me to drive a diesel car for this). Another advantage is good availability of ever car item at lower prices (at least in Europe).

Altought, this is my first car I love to take care of it, this is why I was asking advice on the clutch use. I don't like to slip clutch too much; so slipping it 2-3 seconds to a max of 1200-1400 rpm and a bit more slip and rpms on hill start should be okay, right?

Last question: I know it's best to give gas with the clutch on friction point, but what if: 1) I give some gas and dont't release quite clutch to get moving (for some seconds) and 2) I give gas before releasing the clutch, does this increase wear?

Thanks for your help

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby theholycow » Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:44 pm

amicachips wrote:slipping it 2-3 seconds to a max of 1200-1400 rpm and a bit more slip and rpms on hill start should be okay, right?

Last question: I know it's best to give gas with the clutch on friction point, but what if: 1) I give some gas and dont't release quite clutch to get moving (for some seconds) and 2) I give gas before releasing the clutch, does this increase wear?

Both of those things are fine.

There is no need to worry about every little bit of wear that you could try to identify. You know the basic things to avoid. You probably don't have any of the bad habits that should be avoided. Normal driving varies greatly and the car is designed to tolerate all the types of drivers who are expected to use the car in all the ways they are expected to use it.

It is normal to be paranoid about this stuff, but truly it is unnecessary. Even in the US where people generally don't have experience as a passenger in a manual transmission vehicle (so we don't have a point of reference), mechanics don't have a lot of experience replacing clutches and need to budget more time than someone who does them daily, and clutches are rare/hard to find in parts stores...even here we don't need to worry about it. I bet it's relatively inexpensive to get a clutch serviced across the pond, compared to other automotive costs -- I know you folks pay a LOT more for fuel, taxes, speeding fines, etc, and probably insurance, and then there are the more stringent inspection requirements that make it impossible to drive a cheap old beater that's falling apart. I know it must be much easier to get a gearbox serviced...in the US it's extremely hard to find someone who can diagnose and repair manual transmission problems beyond the normal clutch replacement, and extremely hard to find gearbox parts.

That is why I talked about location and culture. The vehicles are designed differently (so technique will vary slightly) and the consequences are different (so even if you are imperfect, you have less to worry about). As well, social judgment of your driving will differ greatly. It's my understanding that a lot of drivers there are quite sloppy compared to American manual drivers, because those in the US have chosen to drive manual due to interest in it whereas in other places people drive manual just because that's what's normal and they don't give a damn.

Ok, sorry, went way off on a babbling tangent there...anyway...

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if something is worth worrying about:

1. Is it purposely abusive?

2. Does it seem like something a young, dumb, overexcited teenager would do?

3. Does it seem like something that would be done by the kind of guy who always talks about how awesome he is at racing, or has installed a big wing to look stupid and a ridiculous exhaust system to make needless noise?

4. Is it something an automatic transmission wouldn't do? (Since you probably have experience with automatics from visiting the US, after all.)

5. Are there any unusual sounds or smells that you haven't noticed from other drivers?

6. Would a passenger who doesn't know or care about cars notice it and exclaim "Wow, why did you do that?!"

If you get to the bottom of that list without answering any of them with an emphatic "YES!", then it's probably not something to worry about.
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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby amicachips » Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:51 am

Thanks everyone for your replies.

I'm more relaxed about the clutch and its control, and I have to say a big "thank you" to the entire forum and who replied. I will try to partecipate actively to this community.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby MH86 » Sat Aug 20, 2016 8:25 am

amicachips wrote:Thanks everyone for your replies.

I'm more relaxed about the clutch and its control, and I have to say a big "thank you" to the entire forum and who replied. I will try to partecipate actively to this community.

Glad to hear that you're relaxed about it now. Feel free to stick around and participate.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby amicachips » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:48 pm

Hi all,

I have some new questions.

1) Is it normal that I have to let the clutch slip a little more with a/c turned on? I had to stop on hill and I had to rev about to 1500 rpms to start.
2) Does giving a little gas on clutch releasing while starting downhill cause any harm?

Thanks for your replies.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby potownrob » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:29 am

amicachips wrote:Hi all,

I have some new questions.

1) Is it normal that I have to let the clutch slip a little more with a/c turned on? I had to stop on hill and I had to rev about to 1500 rpms to start.
2) Does giving a little gas on clutch releasing while starting downhill cause any harm?

Thanks for your replies.

1. for your car and engine, it sounds like it's probably normal, but that doesn't mean you have to do it that way. you probably have to either add more gas or let out the clutch more slowly (if not both - i don't know how quickly you're letting the clutch out) to launch with the a/c cranking. try to practice to the point where you don't have to both add a lot of gas AND let out the clutch slowly. letting the clutch out slowly at low rpms, like under ~1500 rpms, will cause less wear to the clutch and drivetrain than letting out the clutch slowly while adding a lot of gas (over ~1500 rpms). i'm putting approximate numbers since it is possible you may need to add more gas to get moving quickly. you want to get to the point where you can launch quickly, which typically means letting out the clutch fairly quickly while adding enough gas (but not much more than just enough) to get moving without bogging down a lot or stalling. in case no one mentioned it (tl;dr), you will probably have to or at least want to slow down a little while releasing the clutch through the engagement zone. if you drop the clutch through the engagement zone, you won't get a smooth launch.

2. nothing wrong with launching with gas, even on a downhill. if you don't add gas, you will have to wait for gravity to roll the car down the hill quick enough to launch. on a very steep hill, you probably won't need to add gas, but on moderate hills it's probably best to add gas. take note of how much gas you have to add and how you let the clutch out to get a fairly smooth launch; your launches on flats shouldn't be much different from a launch on a moderate downhill.
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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby amicachips » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Thank you for the answer.

potownrob wrote:1. for your car and engine, it sounds like it's probably normal, but that doesn't mean you have to do it that way. you probably have to either add more gas or let out the clutch more slowly (if not both - i don't know how quickly you're letting the clutch out) to launch with the a/c cranking. try to practice to the point where you don't have to both add a lot of gas AND let out the clutch slowly. letting the clutch out slowly at low rpms, like under ~1500 rpms, will cause less wear to the clutch and drivetrain than letting out the clutch slowly while adding a lot of gas (over ~1500 rpms). i'm putting approximate numbers since it is possible you may need to add more gas to get moving quickly. you want to get to the point where you can launch quickly, which typically means letting out the clutch fairly quickly while adding enough gas (but not much more than just enough) to get moving without bogging down a lot or stalling. in case no one mentioned it (tl;dr), you will probably have to or at least want to slow down a little while releasing the clutch through the engagement zone. if you drop the clutch through the engagement zone, you won't get a smooth launch.


I noticed a thing: I say I rev up to 1500 rpms while raising up the clutch but in that moment rpms are to 1250-1400. By the way I don't slip it long time, 4-5 seconds. It's an "automatic" motion from me, I mean... sometimes when I raise up the clutch I rev a little the engine up at the same time, and say, for 1 second I hear the engine a little revved up. But my launchs are smoothly doing this. And I don't think I'm wearing up the clutch because I remind with theholycow told me.

Even if I'm learning I still do some "slip more than necessary" but clearly not 10 seconds of slipping. Only some.

The question: is the "noise" of the little revving up that lasts a while (0.2 seconds, the time raising up the clutch at the same time) telling me I'm doing something wrong? I checked and my rpms at start don't exceed 1000-1100 rpms. I tend to hear this noise mostly on hills but I don't rev up to 4000-6000 rpms like grandpa, always 1000 max 1500. Is this only a paranoia?

Sorry for the stupid newbie questions and thanks a lot for your patience, but thanks to you and this forum I'm learning to drive stick shift better.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby MH86 » Sat Sep 03, 2016 4:41 pm

amicachips wrote:Thank you for the answer.

potownrob wrote:1. for your car and engine, it sounds like it's probably normal, but that doesn't mean you have to do it that way. you probably have to either add more gas or let out the clutch more slowly (if not both - i don't know how quickly you're letting the clutch out) to launch with the a/c cranking. try to practice to the point where you don't have to both add a lot of gas AND let out the clutch slowly. letting the clutch out slowly at low rpms, like under ~1500 rpms, will cause less wear to the clutch and drivetrain than letting out the clutch slowly while adding a lot of gas (over ~1500 rpms). i'm putting approximate numbers since it is possible you may need to add more gas to get moving quickly. you want to get to the point where you can launch quickly, which typically means letting out the clutch fairly quickly while adding enough gas (but not much more than just enough) to get moving without bogging down a lot or stalling. in case no one mentioned it (tl;dr), you will probably have to or at least want to slow down a little while releasing the clutch through the engagement zone. if you drop the clutch through the engagement zone, you won't get a smooth launch.


I noticed a thing: I say I rev up to 1500 rpms while raising up the clutch but in that moment rpms are to 1250-1400. By the way I don't slip it long time, 4-5 seconds. It's an "automatic" motion from me, I mean... sometimes when I raise up the clutch I rev a little the engine up at the same time, and say, for 1 second I hear the engine a little revved up. But my launchs are smoothly doing this. And I don't think I'm wearing up the clutch because I remind with theholycow told me.

Even if I'm learning I still do some "slip more than necessary" but clearly not 10 seconds of slipping. Only some.

The question: is the "noise" of the little revving up that lasts a while (0.2 seconds, the time raising up the clutch at the same time) telling me I'm doing something wrong? I checked and my rpms at start don't exceed 1000-1100 rpms. I tend to hear this noise mostly on hills but I don't rev up to 4000-6000 rpms like grandpa, always 1000 max 1500. Is this only a paranoia?

Sorry for the stupid newbie questions and thanks a lot for your patience, but thanks to you and this forum I'm learning to drive stick shift better.

From what you're describing, it doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong. It's funny you mention 4-5 seconds because I've been working on my clutch/accelerator balance to smooth out my starts, and I'm finding that 3-4 seconds in the RPM range you mentioned makes for buttery smooth starts in my car and is well within the pace of other cars around me. If you're not exceeding 1500 RPM even on hill starts, that's pretty good. I've seen countless driver training videos that advise to use 2000 RPM (or even 3000 RPM - which I would not advise!) for hill starts, so keep that in mind. If one can trust those videos, you're already being gentler to your clutch than the average European driver.

That noise you're describing is probably just the extra amount of time that you're slipping the clutch to move off uphill, which is pretty much unavoidable. I deal with some fairly hilly roads, and I'm quite familiar with that little extra "vroom" you're describing. As long as you're not smelling burnt clutch, you're doing fine. If you're really curious and can find a hill with little to no traffic, it might be worthwhile to see what happens if you launch with a little less gas.

Overall though, it sounds like your clutch control skills are off to a great start and will get even better as you drive your car more.

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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby potownrob » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:06 am

amicachips wrote:Thank you for the answer.
du bist wilkommen

I noticed a thing: I say I rev up to 1500 rpms while raising up the clutch but in that moment rpms are to 1250-1400. By the way I don't slip it long time, 4-5 seconds. It's an "automatic" motion from me, I mean... sometimes when I raise up the clutch I rev a little the engine up at the same time, and say, for 1 second I hear the engine a little revved up. But my launchs are smoothly doing this. And I don't think I'm wearing up the clutch because I remind with theholycow told me.
sounds okay from what i can tell (hard to tell without hearing it)

Even if I'm learning I still do some "slip more than necessary" but clearly not 10 seconds of slipping. Only some.
good, goooood :)

The question: is the "noise" of the little revving up that lasts a while (0.2 seconds, the time raising up the clutch at the same time) telling me I'm doing something wrong? I checked and my rpms at start don't exceed 1000-1100 rpms. I tend to hear this noise mostly on hills but I don't rev up to 4000-6000 rpms like grandpa, always 1000 max 1500. Is this only a paranoia?
sounds very good; eye am relief 8)

Sorry for the stupid newbie questions and thanks a lot for your patience, but thanks to you and this forum I'm learning to drive stick shift better.
wilkommen; there are no stupid questions here (except when tony asks about your mom) :twisted:
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Re: Clutch control on start

Postby amicachips » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:38 am

Surfing on youtube, I casually watched this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g59P3bfyP-Y

I noticed the guy gives "blip throttle" instead of "steady gas". What's the better way between these two?


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