How Not to Damage a Manual Transmission

August 27, 2018

What to Do to Extend the Life of Your Manual Transmission

If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission—also referred to as a stick shift—you understand how to manually engage and disengage gears using a gear shifter and a clutch pedal. While an automatic transmission shifts gears automatically, a manual transmission vehicle requires the driver to shift gears. Whether you’ve driven a stick for years or are just learning how to operate your vehicle, it can seem like there are so many ways to damage a manual transmission.

There are some things you definitely should not do when driving a manual vehicle:

Don’t keep the car in gear when you’re stopped. Keeping your car in gear when you’re stopped can damage your transmission. It’s easy to want to just keep the car in gear when you stop for ease of starting. However, it is much better for your transmission if you shift to neutral when you stop so that you are not keeping your clutch engaged. Keeping your clutch, throw-out bearing and transmission; so avoid it as much as possible.

• Don’t leave your hand on the gearshift. Leaving your hand on the gearshift feels natural and allows you to quickly shift between gears. However, you can unintentionally put pressure on your shifter by doing this. The pressure can cause the selector fork to rub against the shift collar. This wears down both and leads to costly repairs.

• Don’t use the clutch as a footrest. Similar to the logic above about leaving your hand on the gearshift, resting your foot on your clutch is not good for your transmission. While you may not be intending to, resting your foot on your clutch can apply pressure to your clutch. This pressure keeps your clutch engaged which is detrimental to your throw-out bearing.

• Don’t ride the clutch. It’s really easy to want to ride the clutch when having to stop on a hill in a manual because it can be difficult to get the car started from the neutral position. But, it’s not a great practice to do so. By riding the clutch, you’re keeping it close to engaging with the engine but not allowing it to actually engage. The pressure put on your clutch from holding it in this state of limbo overheats all of the components and is detrimental to the friction material on your clutch disk. By damaging the components of your clutch, you are shortening the life of your clutch. And, replacing your clutch is no small cost.


How to Avoid Riding the Clutch

Fortunately, many modern manuals have a brake hold system that can help minimize this problem. With a brake hold system, you can take your foot off the brake in order to shift your car into gear and accelerate. This system keeps your car from rolling backward down a hill when your foot is making the transition from your brake to your clutch.

For cars without a brake hold system, the handbrake (or parking brake) can be used to help alleviate this problem. To do this, you must first engage the handbrake. Once you’ve done that, you can put your car in neutral and take your foot off the clutch. Once it’s time for you to drive again, re-engage the clutch, put the car in gear and start to press the accelerator as you begin to disengage the clutch. You can then take off the handbrake which will get you to start moving.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have a brake hold system and don’t want to do the parking brake trick, you’re going to have a more difficult time with this. If you don’t have either, you’re going to need to get really good at quickly moving your foot from the brake to the accelerator while shifting from neutral to gear and accelerating. It must be done quickly so that you don’t roll backward too far. It takes skill, but it can be done with time and practice.


Extending the Life of Your Manual Transmission

Rad Air Can Help

To extend the life of your manual transmission, make sure you avoid all of the above actions and have routine maintenance performed on the clutch system. If you ever have problems with your manual transmission (or your automatic transmission), Rad Air can help. Schedule your transmission inspection and maintenance service today.


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