Burning out a clutch

I recently burned the clutch out on my 2005 Hyundai Tiburon, I’ve already payed to have it repaired and everything. This is the third manual transmission vehicle I’ve owned and I’ve never burned out a clutch before. I’ve been reading up a lot about the topic and it seems the two big things that make a clutch go bad are keeping the clutch pedal pressed down all the time, such as when waiting at a red light and slowly letting the clutch out when changing gears. Which of these two things is worse for the clutch? I would guess that it would be the latter but then I don’t know much about cars. Usually when I change gears after I’m already moving its a smooth transition to the next gear but is it better for the clutch if I let it out fast enough to feel that lurch forward into the next gear. Also it seems to me when coming from a dead stop its pretty hard not to slowly let the clutch out when in first gear and also many times when reversing, Is it not as big a deal when in first gear to do this? Any other tips to maximize the life of my clutch?

I don’t see what keeping the pedal down (disengaged) at lights would have to do with wearing out the clutch. When doing this, the clutch plates are disengaged from each other and not wearing at all. There is stress on the throwout bearing, the return springs and the linkage itself, but they are designed for this in any case. What might be happening is that the clutch isn’t adjusted properly and is still dragging some when the pedal is fully depressed, which certainly can cause the clutch to wear out prematurely.

In the second situation, I don’t think “normally” slipping the clutch is going to cause it to wear out abnormally fast.

Slipping the clutch to hold the car on a hill when stopped is a bad idea and will decrease the life of it, but you don’t indicate you’re doing this. Also, racing or other heavy usage will significantly decrease the life of a clutch, but I guess if you do this, you expect components to wear out or break faster than normal.

IMHO, 5 years is a pretty good life span for a clutch in my personal experience and doesn’t actually sound like a bad service life span, come to t hink of it.

What really wears out clutches fast is resting your foot on it when not changing gears.
If not using the clutch, you foot belongs on the floor, not the pedal.

As mentioned, holding the pedal all the way down for longer periods, as opposed to putting the car in neutral and letting the pedal up, causes more wear on the release (throwout) bearing than is necessary. While in some cases this may require premature clutch repair, it is not the same as burning out the clutch. A burned out (worn out) clutch is caused by wear of the clutch disc. It will slip, making the car act as if it’s in neutral even when it’s actually in gear.

The clutch disc suffers wear any time the pedal is between the full up and full down postions, especially under acceleration. Of course, this is exactly how it must be operated to take off from a standstill. The trick is to minimize the time the clutch is in this vulnerable state. Slow, prolonged letting-up of the pedal during take-off aggravates wear; treating it almost as an on-off switch minimizes wear. However, too sudden letting-up can cause undue shock stress on the components, which is its own problem. The technique to aim for is letting the pedal up fairly rapidly but consistent with smooth take-offs and gear changes.

Twenty+ years ago, about 80,000 miles was an average lifespan for a clutch. Nowadays I’d say it’s 140,000 (or more) miles.

Your clutch is hydraulically operated without a routine adjustment. However, there is a basic pedal height adjustment that affects clutch free play, and if your clutch wore out prematurely it should be checked to prevent a recurrence. Other than that, the factors that would normally cause premature wear are driving conditions (stop and go miles wear the clutch a lot more than highway miles), driving styles (riding the clutch, too slow letting-up), and robustness of the parts.

This can contribute to the wear of a clutch. The one part not mention in your post is the pressure plate. Holding the clutch pedal down also flexes the springs on the pressure plate and these will soften over time. This will cause clutch slippage and premature wear. IMHO, 5 years is well short of what should be the life span of a clutch. I got 16 years (177,000 miles) out of my 93 Toyota pickup before changing the clutch a few months ago.

ETA - Gotta type faster. Was replying after **LiveOnAPlane **and before Rick. Oh well, I’ll leave it here for what it’s worth.
Do we really know whether the OP burned out the clutch or burned out the throwout bearing (“TB”)? Sitting at traffic lights in gear with the clutch depressed is putting wear on the TB. The right thing to do is shift into neutral as you drift to a stop, then shift into first when it’s time to go.

Declutching smoothly during gear changes is not a meaningful wear item unless each shift is taking you like 10 seconds to get the clutch fully out.

Unless your 2005 car has 150,000 mile of stop and go driving on it, both TB & clutch should not have failed. I’d be looking to things like: Is there a recall on this car for defective clutches? Was your particular part defective? Can you find other Tiburon owners complaining about bad clutches? Did you buy the car new and do you know it’s not an aftermarket clutch installed by Bob’s Half-Assed Clutch Repair?

For further remote diagnosis here, it’d be good to have a lot more detail than “I burned out the clutch”. Of the 5-ish parts in there, which one(s) failed in which way. You’ll need to get those details from the guys doing the work. Getting the old parts back will also be useful.

If the clutch is not properly adjusted, does not fully disengage, you may be lightly wearing it while you think you have it disengaged.

I guess gear shifting is a trade off; pop the clutch and stress the rest of the engine, or let it out lighter and burn clutch instead of encouraging pistons and piston rods, crankshaft, gears etc. to absorb the blow of gear change.

The ideal is to minimize the speed differential of the car vs motor while the clutch is out so there is no big jerk. Practice, practice. Even after 15 years of driving a motorcycle and 10 with a standard car, I would still stall the car once every year or two if I wasn’t paying attention; or realize that oops, that was 3rd not 1st.

The pressure on the friction plate may be (mostly) relieved, but there is still some drag on it. The slightest bit of pressure will result in wear, especially if, for example, the driver’s foot relaxes and lets the clutch away from the floor a smidge (I’ve caught myself doing this). Two minutes of idling like this is a big deal for a device designed to slip for only a couple of seconds during a shift/launch.

For maximum clutch life, I’d recommend the following:

-launches from a standing start should be done with very low engine RPM, achieving full clutch engagement as rapidly as you can do so without causing discomfort for your passengers. This requires good throttle management while releasing the clutch. After a decade of driving a stick-shift car, my launch RPM rarely gets much higher than about 1200 before full clutch engagement.

-during shifts, ideally you should manage the throttle so that the engine RPM is exactly what it will be when you let the clutch out at the completion of the shift. Not only is this best for passenger comfort, it also minimizes clutch wear, since the clutch should theoretically not be slipping at all if you have matched engine RPM before releasing the clutch.

-leave the gearbox in neutral and the clutch out when idling at traffic lights. When you see the cross-traffic’s light turn yellow, that’s a reasonable time to put it in gear and prep for launch.*

[sub]Tthis rule does not apply to motorcyclists, who are advised to be always be ready at a traffic light - first-gear, clutch-in - for evasive action if a rear-end collision is imminent. Whereas a car typically can’t wiggle off to the side or split between two other cars, and has lots of armor to protect its occupant, a motorcycle is both more vulnerable and more maneuverable when sitting at a stoplight, and so should be ready to move on a moment’s notice.[/sub]

I’m also leaning towards “racing the engine”. I’ve seen this many times with drivers that are new to stick shifts. Taking off means reving the engine to 4000 rpm, then sloooooowwwllyy letting the clutch up. The really cringe worthy part is where they parallel park that way. If the OP has this problem I can definitely see the clutch wearing out prematurely.
When I take off I rev to no more than 1500 rpm in my 6 cylinder, 1200 rpm in my V8 (more torque). The clutch drags the rpm down as it engages and I feed it a bit more gas during this. The clutch is all engaged when rpms are 1200/1000 (6 vs 8 cyl).

Class Action anyone? Not 2005, but for 2003 models, and this prompts me to ponder about later clutches if a class action was required on 2003 models:

Read around. Their clutches are notorious. You might not need to beat up your driving style.

Thats interesting about the recall, my car only has 46k miles on it when this occured and that seems very low mileage to be having clutch problems.

The fastest way to wear out a clutch is to lend the car to my sister-in-law. Twice, now.

Dad, when he was in the bank, told me about some lorry drivers who had accounts with him.

More than one related a tale of a somewhat misery boss who didn’t show much leeway with time off. Allegedly, what the drivers would do if they really wanted this time off but weren’t given it was to drive around for a bit with their foot on the clutch pedal. The clutch wore out quickly and they had no option but to make use of the time the lorry spent in the workshop.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. :smiley:

A friend of mine relates the sad story of selling his truck to his neighbour. The guy was a few marbles shy of a gallon. He not only screwed up, he related the stories as if the world were at fault, not him.

First, he spent over half an hour on the phone with some helpful guy at the local transmission shop trying to ensure his transmission fluid was not low, since someone told him that could be what caused his vehicle to be sluggish. In the days before cordless phones he was back and forth from the phone to the truck, trying to find the fluid dipstick based on the guy’s description of where it should be. Finally he says"could it be my clutch slipping instead?"

Long pause on the other end… “You have a clutch??? It’s not automatic?”

So he complained to my friend that the clutch was bad. They took it to the local Canadian Tire who had replaced the clutch a month before he sold the truck. The tech said “Sorry, we’re not going to honour the warranty. The clutch has been abused. You must have been riding it hard.” He took them to the hoist and showed them the shaft coming out of the clutch, which was blue for about 6 inches.

“Yes,” said the neighbour. “I found it was getting harder to get started from the light in 3rd gear.”