About Kurt Schleier

Blogging at Clickmechanic.

Why Now Could Be A Great Time To Buy A New Car

Whilst buying a new car may be pretty low down on your current lockdown to-do list, the discounts on offer currently with car dealers may actually mean that now could be a great time to buy your next car. Here’s why:

  1. The government has updated lockdown guidance for car dealers
    The government has recently announced that car dealers are allowed to sell (online) and deliver cars during lockdown providing social distancing rules are adhered to.
  2. Rules around test driving have been relaxed
    The DVLA have stated that potential buyers may now test drive vehicles on their own, providing the seller has the required trade plates and insurance. Previously, the trade plate licence holder was required to be present in the vehicle, however the DVLA has now confirmed that potential buyers will be able to test drive a car alone and therefore maintain social distance.
  3. Car dealers are offering some cracking deals
    After a period of uncertainty dealers are keen to get business moving again and will be more likely to offer discounts and do a deal. Importantly, any deals are unlikely to stay around for too long once the lockdown will be eased and demand for cars increases again. So now may be the time to snap up your next car for a great price.

All this should mean the process of buying a car during lockdown is much easier than before. However, ClickMechanic recommends that any potential purchaser should double-check with the dealer that the trade plates are up to date and the trader has the required insurance in place prior to taking the car out.

In all cases though, if buying a second hand car, but especially if you are test driving one solo without being able to ask questions at the time, it’s always best to have a professional check over the car. ClickMechanic can help with a Contact-Free Pre-Purchase Inspection, book yours here today.

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Keeping Key Workers Moving During The Coronavirus Lockdown

As the Coronavirus has forced much of the nation into full lockdown, those keeping our key services running are faced with huge challenges to do so. Not least finding ways to get to and from work, and keeping their vehicles moving safely when many garages have closed across the UK.

For that reason, we’re committing to help keep key workers moving and are offering the following benefits to them:

  • Priority mechanic matching
    Our system and team will move quickly to ensure key and essential workers booking are assigned with priority.Just add a note on your booking stating you are a key or essential worker and who you work for. We offer same and next day bookings across the UK and work with hundreds of mechanics and garages that are still open.
  • Free & Priority phone diagnostics 
    Key and essential workers will be able to get quick and free phone diagnostics from our Mechanic in Residence team. Click here to book your call and just add a note on your request stating you are a key or essential worker and who you work for.
  • Contact-Free Servicing & Repairs
    We are offering a “contact-free” key exchange and service, to aid with the government recommended social distancing.
  • NHS and emergency service workers get 10% discount on bookings
    For NHS and emergency service workers a 10% discount on all bookings can be accessed via the Blue Light card scheme. Simply login via the Blue Light Card app or site here and claim the discount code.

Please forward this email to anyone that you know that is a key or essential worker that may need our services at this time.

From everyone at ClickMechanic, thank you for all that you do!

What is The Difference Between Winter Tyres And Summer Tyres?

Are Winter Tyres Worth It

Winter tyres can seem like a bit of a mystery. Often it’s unclear what they actually do and if they are any different from summer tyres. Tyres are tyres, right? Truth is that winter tyres are a highly specialised piece of kit. They will help keep your car stable in winter weather. They are, in fact, significantly different than summer tyres.

Summer tyres are fitted as standard to most cars and are the perfect companion to your car for the summer months. And up to a certain point, they work fine in other seasons as well. Their performance, however, rapidly declines as temperatures drop. Summer tyres are made in such a way that they are soft and grip well in normal and warm temperatures. But once temperatures approach 7C and below the summer tyres will start to lose traction with the road surface. Your car will start to feel unstable and it may not be very comfortable to drive. At that point, it is probably worth getting some winter tyres for your car.

Why do winter tyres work better in cold weather?

Winter tyres are made out of a different type of rubber which makes them softer. It ensures they remain supple in cold weather. It helps to make them ‘grippier’ in winter conditions. On top of that, the tyre tread design is deeper and has more sipes (small slits) which help it process water and snow better.

This all contributes to the fact that winter tyres are proven to stop a car better in cold weather than summer tyres. Tyre manufacturer Continental found that winter tyres can help to stop a car traveling at 31mph eight metres before the same car on summer tyres. That might not seem like much, but it can be the difference between crashing into the back of another car or stopping just in time.

Are winter tyres worth it?

Deciding whether winter tyres are worth it is a much-debated topic. Many say it’s a waste of money having them in the UK as it’s never cold enough for them to have any effect. Others find that they are worth it and say that they feel safer driving with winter tyres in winter.

One of the main misconceptions about winter tyres is that they are only useful if it snows. Seeing that there is little snow in the UK it’s easy to dismiss them on that basis. The fact is, though, that they can be useful way before frosty conditions come round. The general rule is that if it’s under 7C degrees, they grip the road better than summer tyres. They will improve handling and braking no matter whether it snows or rains.

Do you need winter tyres?

Winter tyres have clear advantages in some weather conditions. Their design can really help to cope with bad and cold weather. And can help stop your car much sooner if you brake on snow or ice.

That said, it is less clear if you actually need them. Remember, in large parts of the UK it is barely cold enough in winter for winter tyres to have much effect. On top of that snow in most parts of the country is a rare sight. After all, the UK is not quite Austria. It might just be that weather conditions in your area might be so mild that there is not much point getting them.

Consumer advice organisation Which? has suggested that it will depend on where you are whether they would be useful. It would mean that it makes sense to get some if you are in a colder part of the UK. There where bad winter weather conditions are far more likely. If you mostly drive in a city environment where it’s less cold, the tyres may have less use.

When to get winter tyres?

Winter tyres are not compulsory in the winter months in the UK, so it is always a personal choice. Unlike in most other European countries where they are mandatory. If you do decide to have them fitted, then the time most people get them is around October. That way you’re in time for the first bits of cold weather and are all prepared for when it starts freezing.

What to do with your summer tyres?

That leaves you with your summer tyres, though, which have to be stored somewhere. If you have a garage or shed this is no problem. If you haven’t got the space the decision to get some may be a lot more complicated. Many tyre fitters nowadays offer summer tyre storage for a small price.

Top Tips

For any tyre to work well, it needs to be in good condition and inflated to the right level. A winter tyre that is worn and underinflated may work no better in winter than a brand-new summer tyre. On the other hand, a summer tyre that has almost worn beyond the legal limit will be no good even if it is summer. That’s why it’s very important to ensure at any time of the year that the tyre tread depth is well within the legal limit. On top of that, make sure your tyres are inflated to the right level. This will help the tyres perform better, your car will be a safer place to be in and will waste less fuel in the process.

 

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How Often Should You Change The Pollen Filter?

How often should you change the pollen filter?

A pollen filter or cabin air filter keeps the air that flows into the cabin clean. What it does is filter out any pollen or dirt that flows into the car. This is not only great to keep the air clean for any passengers inside the car, but it will also keep the system clean. The downside to this is, the more you drive the faster the filter gets blocked and you will find yourself soo in the situation when you will have to replace the pollen filter. The upside of keeping the pollen filter clean is that you can help improve the performance of your ventilation or air conditioning system.

How Often Should You Change The Pollen Filter?

The pollen filter is a part that would regularly need to be replaced. The more you drive the car, the dirtier it will get. That’s why it should really be replaced at regular intervals. Your car’s service schedule will give advice as to when it needs replacing. How often it is needed as such does really depend on the type of car you have and how much you drive and where. After all, driving in traffic or in heavily polluted areas will mean that the pollen filter needs replacing more often. As it will be more affected by grime and dust.

How Can You Tell If The Pollen Filter Needs Replacing?

The pollen filter’s main job is to stop the dirty air from entering the cabin. But if the air ventilation system is not performing very well it’s possible that it’s dirty. Over time lots of dust, grime, twigs, leaves, and even insects can accumulate across the service of the pollen filter.

The filter traps dust, pollen, and other foreign particles, essentially cleaning the air before you breathe it in. Often you may be able to remove some of the bits and pieces that have nestled itself in the filter. Like all filters, they need at least cleaning when they become clogged or start to smell. At some stage, though, a pollen filter replacement is inevitable.

Checking the condition of the pollen filter can be left to the mechanic for your next service. Usually, the pollen filter replacements will be covered by your service schedule which is recommended by your manufacturer. These scheduled services are important to the maintenance of your car and will prolong life for many years. There are multiple signs of a pollen filter that just isn’t working anymore, here are a few now.

Sign 1: Poor airflow

The most common issue with pollen filters is poor airflow, as more and more debris clumps together to block the filter. This will obviously mean that you don’t actually feel much, despite you speeding down the motorway. Opening a window hurts your MPG so this small breeze is a bit more of an issue.

Sign 2: A bad smell?

Another symptom of a blocked up pollen filter is a foul-smelling breeze. As dust builds, so does bacteria and fungus. These microorganisms will release a lot of pungent smells that no scented pine will ever protect you from. You might not notice it if you drive often, but newcomers to the car may just plug their nose as they struggle to breathe the ‘clean’ air.

Sign 3: Is that a WRRRR CRCH CRCH SSSSS sound I hear?

If there is some blockage, you may hear odd noises or just a loud low tone sound. This might alarm your passengers if you can even hear them over the sound of air being squeezed into your car. It definitely puts a slight dampener on any relaxing drive.

Particularly in the city, it is important to have a functioning pollen filter as there are plenty more pollutants in the air which you need to avoid. In urban environments, you may want to get your filters replaced more regularly due to the stop-start nature and heavy traffic. We recommend sticking to your scheduled servicing per your manufacturer’s guidelines, as this will keep the filters and the rest of the car in prime condition.

If you think there is a problem with your pollen filter then get a certified Clickmechanic to come out and inspect the problem with your airflow system.

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Winter Driving – How To Stay Safe

Winter Driving - How To Stay Safe

Winter driving is a skill. Wet weather, snow or ice can make your car feel unstable. You may find it tricky to keep your car under control. But fortunately, winter driving is a skill that can be easily learned. What it’s all about is car control and a smooth driving style. That way you can reduce the chance your car will lose traction with the road.

Here’s a couple of top tips that will help you on your way to tackle even the most horrendous weather conditions.

Braking in wintery weather

Gentle braking is key in wintry weather, that way it will be easier to keep your car under control. Anti-lock brakes will go a long way in preventing the brakes from locking up but will do little once the car skids sideways. Just remember, braking hard for no reason is one of the worst things you can do in these winter months.

A better option is to slow down and to anticipate other driver’s behaviour. In other words, learn to read the road so you can react quickly and appropriately.

If you are concerned about your brakes and if they are still in good condition, have them checked and get a brake pad or disk replacement for maximum safety.

Steering on slippery and icy roads

Steering in winter is all about doing it smoothly. Reduce your speed when approaching corners and gently steer through a corner. This will enable the tyres to do their job of gripping the road much better.

Remember, if the car does start to slide it will be hard to regain control. You can recover your car whilst it slides sideways, but it will take a lot of skill and practice to master this. As you’re probably not quite Lewis Hamilton just yet, the best cure, again, is prevention. Just direct your car smoothly and neatly around those bends.

Changing gear

Changing gear smoothly will help keep your car in check. If you have a manual gearbox then make sure to cut your use of the first gear down to a minimum. That way you’ll make it less likely that your wheels will spin through on a slippery road surface. Speed up with care and try to use the higher gears to improve traction and to stay safe.

Clothing

Make sure you wear clothes suitable for winter weather. If your hands get cold, wear gloves that grip well onto the steering wheel to maximise control. Also, consider wearing a pair of driving shoes instead of clunky boots which can make you lose the feeling for gentle braking and accelerating. What you want to prevent is your shoes slipping on the pedals.

Remove your thick winter jacket before you get behind the wheel. Wearing a thick coat or jacket will keep you warm but will also impact how securely your seat belt is tightened. Studies and tests have shown that in accidents a seat belt worn over a padded jacket can cause additional injuries.

Top-tips

Having taken all this into account bear in mind that driving in snow or heavy rain can still be pretty dangerous. And in many ways, it is probably just best to not drive at all. A good rule is to only use your car if you really need to. And if you don’t really need to go somewhere, consider using public transport or stay at home.

Of course, if you are in a rural area and do really need to use your car to get to places then make sure you’re prepared well. We would always recommend doing an advanced driving course if you are in any doubt. Read our winter survival guide to make sure your car is ready to survive winter!

Happy driving!

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Increase your chances to pass the MOT test the first time

160215-dvsa-announcement-social

Always wondered what issue is most likely to fail your car when you take it for its MOT test the first time? Well, since the exacts contents of MOT tests were determined by law in 2012, comprehensive records have been kept showing the most likely defects found. Governing body Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has recently disclosed this information to inform you and us in more detail about what you can do to prevent your car from failing on often minor issues, saving you the hassle and saving yourself from forking out for an MOT re-test. Our little guide gives you the key details how your car can pass the MOT test with flying colours.

Lighting and signaling

fun_car_repair_1

A considerable 18% of the reasons cars don’t pass the MOT test are due to general lighting issues, like bulbs that have blown, inadequate reflectors, hazard lights, and other signaling issues.

To give your car a better chance of passing its MOT, and at the very least increase your own safety, it is therefore super important that these items are checked to make sure they are all okay. To increase your chances to pass the MOT test, simply test if the head and rear lights, brake lights, indicator and number plate lights come on and are working as they should. Any blown bulbs can easily be replaced, your car owners manual will tell you how.

Brakes

Brakes are arguably the most important safety feature on your car, hence any MOT test will require these to be in tip-top condition. There is a great chance otherwise you will fail, and indeed the stats show that 10% of MOT failures are due to inadequate braking systems. This does not only concern the condition of your brake pads and discs but also check if your handbrake is in good condition.

If there are any strange noises when you’re braking, or if the car doesn’t stop as it previously did, then chances are there is something wrong with the brakes. Usual suspects will be worn or damaged brake discs or brake pads that have worn beyond the manufacturer’s limit. If you’re unsure just ask a professional for an opinion.

Tyres

car-tyre

Apart from the fact that 8% of MOT failures in the last year are due to tyre issues, it only makes sense to ensure they are in a good condition in general and have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm (the current legal limit). There is an easy way to test if your tyres meet the legal standard using a 20p coin: insert the coin into one of the groves in the tread. If the outer rim is visible, then it is time to get your tyre replaced.

Remember, tyres are your car’s only contact point with the road surface and give your car the grip and stopping power needed to drive your car safely. Make sure that things like your tyre pressure, overall condition of the tyres and tread depth are checked out prior to the MOT test and have any issues addressed.

Driver’s view of the road

funny-Car-Wiper-Pulley1

Already aware that your windscreen wipers do not work properly or wiper blades are not as effective as they should be? Then there’s a good chance your car will not pass the MOT test on these items. Indeed, around 7% of MOTs fails were due to issues related to visibility in the last year and can range from windscreen wiper issues to damaged mirrors and window stickers.

With windshield wiper blades being some of the easiest and cheapest things to replace, make sure you sort out any aspects in the car that might obscure your view and easily increase your chances of passing your MOT test. Also, remember to top up windscreen washer fluid before you drive to the MOT centre.

Suspension

Whilst suspension issues will be more difficult to quickly check it is sometimes not hard to identify whether there is something wrong with the suspension. There may be strange noises when going over bumps or your car may be unstable if you go through corners. If you’re unsure exactly what the problem is then making sure to ask help from a professional, they will be able to find out more during an inspection.

Do you think your car is ready for its MOT? Then consider getting one with free collection and delivery to the test centre, and save yourself lots of hassle. Get a quote for your region now at www.clickmechanic.com/mot

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Happy driving!

Buying a Used Car: The Pre-Purchase Check

Buying A Used Car: The Pre-Purchase Check

After you have decided on which type of used car you want to buy, it’s important to check the car thoroughly. The best practice is to find a couple of cars of the same model for sale and arrange to view all of them. That way you can compare the condition of each of the cars and get a feel on whether they are worth the money. Just remember, it’s bad practice to go for the first car you see, without having seen any other car.

Checking A Used Car Before Buying

Once you have made some appointments to view the cars it’s time to prepare yourself to view the car. Checking a car and identifying any faults can be a bit daunting if you’re not quite sure what you should look out for. There’s a number of areas on the car to pay special attention to:

Checking the exterior of a car

The easiest check to do is to see if the exterior of the car, look out for any scratches or dents. Also, make sure to look out for any slight differences in terms of the paint colour. It may just be that panels have been replaced and resprayed to cover up any accidents. Also, check for any moisture underneath the car, it may just be that oil or coolant is leaking out of the car. Below are 5 recommendations for what to look out for:

  • Scratches and dents
  • Difference in paint colour
  • Scratches and cracks in the windscreen, windows, and mirrors
  • Signs of corrosion, e.g. on wheels
  • Condition of the wheels and tyres

Another good thing to check is if all lights like the headlamp, braking lights, indicators, etc are in working condition.

Checking the interior

Moving on to the car’s interior, you should pay attention to the condition of the seats and panels. While most of it is easily visible, it still makes sense to have a closer look at:

  • Seat upholstery and carpets (lift the carpet too)
  • Controls and instruments
  • Rearview mirror
  • Door locking
  • Interior lights and lights on the dash panel

Checking the engine bay

Once you have checked the interior and exterior it’s worth opening the bonnet to check the engine bay. Check if there are any signs of oil debris in and around the engine, and check for any fluid leaks. Signs of moisture or oil around the engine can mean that the engine is leaking somewhere.
Even if you are not a mechanic, these are things you can check yourself:

  • General condition and cleanliness of the engine bay
  • Signs of corrosion
  • Fluid levels, e.g. oil
  • The general condition of hoses and pipes
  • Signs of fluid leaks

The test drive

One important pre-purchase check to tick off the list as well as to test drive the car. Driving the car can show up many problems that you would simply just not notice when the car is stationary. Rattles and knocking noises can all indicate major problems.

  • Footbrake and handbrake
  • Noise level of the engine while driving as well as during idling
  • Operating the clutch and shifting into gears
  • General steering, the effort you need to put into steering, general handling the car and road stability
  • Engine efficiency, e.g. while accelerating and operation of the accelerator pedal in general

Check our guide on test driving a car for more tips on how to make the most of a test drive.

A Second Opinion

Once you have checked all the cars you selected it’s time to consider which one was the best. Consider the condition of the car and also take into account any differences in terms of recent repairs done, differences in terms of the trim levels and of course the price. On the basis of all those points, select your favourite car and decide if you really want to get it.

At this point, it’s worth checking the chosen car once more to see if there’s anything you failed to notice. Often it’s worth getting a pre-purchase inspection with a professional mechanic at this point. The mechanic would be able to check over the car in more detail and use expertise built up over many years. A mechanic can identify any underlying problems that may not be immediately obvious. That way you can pre-empt any nightmares later on. You wouldn’t want to buy a car that seems great of course but later turns out to have major problems.

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Should I Replace the Water Pump At The Same Time As The Timing Belt?

carengine-tappets

Often customers come to us asking whether the water pump really needs to be replaced at the same time as the timing belt (also known as the cambelt). What we say is that if your water pump is driven via the timing belt (cambelt) it must be replaced at the same time, a water pump failure can be as catastrophic as a timing belt failing on these vehicles.

Save on labour cost

The main reason is that on some cars, to get to the water pump, you may have to remove the timing belt first even if it is driven via the auxiliary drive belt. If that is the case, then it is advisable to replace the water pump & auxiliary drive belt at the same time as the timing belt while the mechanic has access to all the parts. Once the timing belt is removed, it is only a matter of loosening a few more bolts and screws to change the water pump as well. That way you will kill two birds with one stone because the majority of the labour needed to replace the water pump will already have been done when replacing the timing belt.

Considering that water pumps generally do not cost a lot, it makes sense to do both at the same time. Not replacing the water pump on these vehicles during a timing belt change means if the pump does go at a later point, you will have to pay for the same labour again. It is likely the water pump will probably have worn after some years of use anyway, and will need replacing sooner than later.

If you don’t replace the water pump…

Not replacing the water pump during a timing belt change means if the pump does go at a later point, you will have to pay for the same labour again. It is likely the water pump will probably have worn after some years of use anyway, and will need replacing sooner than later.

Making sure the water pump is in tip-top condition is key to avoid overheating of the engine, and avoid potentially expensive repairs. Even the slightest leak in or around the water pump can reduce the ability of the engine to keep itself cool.

That’s why we at ClickMechanic do always recommend to get both the timing belt and water pump replaced at the same time. We even have a dedicated job available in our repairs section on the site that will give you a full quote for a timing belt and water pump.

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How do I know what option to choose?

We have a team of friendly, experienced in-house-mechanics who can assist you with this. Simply fill in the form below & one of the team will get back to you with the facts & recommendations.

Ask our in-house mechanics

When Do I Need To Replace My Timing Belt?

How Often Do I Need To Replace My Timing Belt?

Lots of car owners come to us asking when their timing belt needs replacing. Replacement intervals will depend on the make and model of car, with some belts lasting up to 100,000 miles.

The timing belt, often also called cambelt, is one of the most important components of your engine but also one of the most fragile ones and if they snap you could face a major repair bill.

What Timing Belts Do

The timing belt links up the top and bottom parts of the engine. The belt matches the timing of the valves and ignition with the timing of the pistons inside the engine. What it does is keeping everything in check, to ensure your engine runs smoothly.

Incorrect timing of the engine can be due to many things. Often it’s not even the belt itself. It is rather pulleys that are damaged or a timing belt tensioner that has loosened up.

In a worst-case scenario, your timing belt may ‘jump’. This means that the belt jumps a tooth on one of the pulleys it runs around. The timing will be off and the components inside the engine will not be in the right position at the right time.

Signs That Your Timing Belt Needs Replacing

Over time the timing belt can and will wear. A squealing noise from the engine or a belt that looks frayed can indicate that your belt has worn too much. Often this is just because of normal wear, other times because of wear to parts like the pulleys or a tensioner, as a faulty pulley or tensioner can rip the timing belt.

What makes things difficult is that it’s not always clear when a replacement is needed. There may be no strange noises or visible signs of wear. If in doubt make sure to get an inspection by a mechanic who can help identify any issues.

If you think that your belt is worn it’s very important to act quickly before it wears so much that it snaps! This may be rare but it can happen if your timing belt is not replaced timely.

On some engines, incorrect timing or a snapped timing belt can lead to catastrophic engine damage. In so-called ‘interference engines’, it will mean that the pistons and valves will hit.  This might not seem critical but just remember that the parts will break if they hit at a high speed. If that happens an expensive engine rebuild will most likely be required.

On a ‘non-interference’ engine timing that is off is less of a problem. The internal components of the engine will not come into contact if the timing is not correct. Even if the belt breaks when you’re driving it is unlikely that it will cause any major damage to your engine, it is more likely that the vehicle will not start.

Simply put, there are many reasons your timing belt may need replacing. Keep in mind that many of the reasons why a periodic replacement is needed will only show when it’s too late. With timing belts, it’s therefore all about prevention. That’s why manufacturers recommend to periodically replace the timing belt. That way you can reduce the chance that your belt snaps.

 

When To Replace The Cambelt On Your Car

There is, unfortunately, no general set time at which point you need to replace your timing belt. The replacement interval will differ across car models, and their engines. Car manufacturers say when timing belts need replacing in the service schedules. Underneath you can find a table listing a number of timing belt replacement intervals on popular cars, as suggested by manufacturers (source). Manufacturers always recommend replacing the belt at a certain mileage or age interval, whichever comes first.

How Often Do I Need To Replace My Timing Belt?

Make Model Engine Year Replacement interval (mileage) Replacement interval (months)
Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 2008 140000 48 months
Audi A4 2.0 TDI 2007 75000 60 months
Vauxhall Astra 1.4 1998-06 40000 48 months
Vauxhall Vectra 2.0 1995-02 40000 48 months
Renault Megane III 1.6 2008 72000 72 months
Nissan Qashqai / Qashqai +2 1.5 dCi 2007 75000 60 months
Ford Mondeo 1.8 1997-00 80000 60 months
Peugeot 307 1.4 HDi 2001-08 144000 120 months
Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D 2003-09 60000 120 months
Fiat 500 1.2 2007 72000 48 months

 

Make sure to always check the service schedule for your car model in the service book of your car, as the service interval for your model might be different from the intervals here. If you’re not entirely sure, ask your car’s manufacturer for the correct interval. Service intervals are a firm indicator when you need to replace your timing belt. Remember that timing belts may wear prematurely and may need replacing at an earlier time. If you think this is the case then make sure to ask for help from an expert, as it is not worth taking risks with timing belts.

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If your car needs a timing belt replacement, then we recommend having the water pump changed as well. Read more in our article about why you should change the water pump and timing belt at the same time.

How To Use A Clutch To Prolong Clutch Lifespan

Clutch and clutch pedal overview

If your car has a manual gearbox, your car will have a clutch. As you might have experienced in the past, a clutch is particularly susceptible to wear. Especially if it is not used properly. If you remember clutches cost usually cost upward of 200 pounds, excluding labour it’s clear it makes sense to reconsider how one uses the clutch. Therefore let’s have a look at how to use a clutch sensibly to prolong its lifespan.

Taking account of the following tips you might be able to improve clutch life. In turn, it could be that you are able to minimise the intervals at which you will need a costly and time-intensive clutch replacement and possibly saving you many Pounds over the lifetime of the car. Taking care of how you use your clutch on your daily drive will mean that it will stay in the best working order for as long as possible.

When changing gear

One of the key points to minimise wear to the clutch is to remember where the biting point of the clutch is. This is the point where the clutch plates meet; essentially the point when the car starts to move when you slowly get off the clutch pedal after having depressed it. If the clutch has reached its biting point it is thus important you release the pedal as to not inflict unnecessary wear upon it through clutch slippage. Remember, the biting point is different on every car.

When changing gear this would mean that, if you want to change gear, you rapidly depress the pedal, change the gear with your gear stick and slowly release the clutch again. Making sure it does not travel too slowly, causing clutch slippage, or too quickly causing an unsmooth and clumsy gear change. Over time you and through regular driving, you will establish an understanding of where the biting point is. Changing gear correctly reduces the amount of time the clutch discs are engaged.

Under braking

To save fuel and extend clutch life it is important you make use of the engine braking when you lift off the accelerator and brake. The generally accepted way to operate your clutch under braking is not to use it at all to just before the point that the engine starts to struggle and cut out. The basic rule here then is to depress the clutch if your car’s speed is too low for the gear selected.

That said, under heavy braking one would usually depress the clutch at the same time as the brake. Ensuring, on the one hand, that the engine does not cut out and, on the other, that you retain better control over the car under braking (fewer load shifts to cope with).

When ‘coasting’

Coasting is another way to slow the car down (very slowly). By ‘freewheeling’  the car along the road fuel can be saved. In this case, you would depress the clutch fully, to disconnect the engine from the rest of the drive train. For short periods you could just do this by depressing the clutch pedal, for longer periods it is important to change into neutral and let the car roll that way.

Engine braking

In the same sense, you can use engine braking, to slow the car down. In this case, you would not touch the clutch at all to retain the connection between the gearbox and the engine. This sort of braking is especially useful when rolling downhill, as using the brakes when rolling down steep inclines continuously is not advisable. The brakes can quickly overheat, leading to brake fade, meaning that when you really need them the brakes will not stop the car adequately or at all. Moreover, braking on slopes wears out the brake pads much quicker. Of course, when you find the engine chokes, depress the clutch and change down a gear.

When driving

During driving school, a useful way to learn how to operate the clutch quickly is to “ride” it. This means that your clutch pedal is pressed lightly down permanently to allow a faster gear change. In reality, this is a bad habit you should stop immediately. Keeping your foot pressed on the pedal and therefore the clutch discs engaged at all times puts additional strain and friction on the parts. A better way is to learn to read the road and anticipate behaviour ahead of time. The sooner you can identify a potentially dangerous or tricky situation, the sooner you can act accordingly.

When stopping

It is tempting to keep the clutch engaged either fully or at the biting point when you’re stopping at a traffic light or are sat in stationary traffic. This, however, puts more strain on the mechanism and as a result will add to faster wear and tear. The better way is to change gear into neutral, engaging the clutch swiftly rather than keeping under prolonged strain and friction.

Bottom line

In the end, it comes down to engaging and disengaging the clutch only when truly necessary. Moreover,  if you do (dis-)engage it, do carefully. Always try to limit the amount of time you do not fully depress the clutch pedal (as the clutch slips it will chafe against the flywheel, gently wearing it out). When you can, do not touch the clutch at all. It will not only extend the lifespan of your clutch but will also save fuel and brake pads. It requires a little practice, but you’ll be able to reap the rewards fairly soon in hard Pound savings.

Of course, this is just an impression of methods that can be used, it is by no means exhaustive. As with most things in life, experiment and find the right way for you. Different people prefer different methods, therefore always follow the guidance by a manufacturer and driving experts to prolong the lifespan of the clutch and ensure a safe driving experience.

Should you experience problems with your clutch, and if it prevents you from changing gear properly, it might be time to replace it. Clickmechanic is here to help in that case, get a quote from us here.

Happy driving!

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Photo: Ford (via)