C is for clutch


The clutch pedal is the scary one. If not treated gently, it can take you by surprise and also cause damage to your car.

The clutch pedal decides if the engine is connected to the wheels. When the clutch pedal is all the way up, the engine is fully-connected to the wheels. With the clutch pedal pressed all the way to the floor, it disconnects the engine from the wheels.

animation of clutch pedal and flywheel and pressure plate

Between the fully-up and fully-down position is the biting point, where the engine is just beginning to get connected with the wheels. This point is essential for getting the car moving smoothly, and you will need to practice finding it.

How does it work?

To see an animation of how a clutch works see this video from Simon Raisbeck

To see a real clutch, have a look at this video from Eric the Car Guy

To see how it interacts with the gear box see this video from Learn Engineering

When is the clutch used?

The clutch is used for a few things when driving, and it can be thought of as a standby button.

  • When moving off from stationary, the clutch is raised slowly to bring the car out of “standby”.
  • When changing between different gears, the clutch is used to temporarily take the power away from the wheels while the gears reposition themselves.
  • When coming to a complete stop, the clutch is pressed down to put the car into “standby”

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