Using a Clutch Properly

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Hi Bob,
My boyfriend and I are having a discussion about driving a standard transmission. I was always taught that you stay off the clutch unless you are shifting, and that when you're at a stoplight, you put the car in neutral and take your foot off the clutch. My boyfriend sez that it's okay to (as I call it) 'ride the clutch', and that it doesn't damage the car.

For instance, when slowing to a stop, he will depress the clutch and leave it depressed (even if it's from as high as 3rd or 4th gear) while simultaneously depressing the brake. He'll also keep his foot on the clutch while stopped at a light because he says it's better to have the car in gear at all times. Who's right?

Well, riding the clutch and keeping it depressed are two different things. You see, "riding the clutch" is when you rest your foot on the pedal while driving. This will partially depress the clutch and wear it out prematurely. Now, while stopped at a light, it really doesn't matter because the clutch wear occurs when clutching in and clutching off. Holding the clutch should be fine. But, the problem with that is if you get rear ended, the sudden jolt will alarm you and you will take your foot off the clutch, engaging the gears and sending you forward (whether it is safe to go or not). So, for safety reasons, I say go to neutral!
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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