Dude, The "German Boy" Is HELL On A Clutch. Help!

Okay here’s the “backstory”, as it were. About a week ago, I bought a 2001 Hyundai Elantra. I don’t like a stick-shift, but the price, as they say, was right.

Back in the 80’s I had an 82 Camaro which was also a manual tranny, but it had what is known as a “long clutch”, and through bad driving habits, and not knowing better, I soon burned out that and many more after that one… :rolleyes:

Okay. Fast-forward to the present: Me and my new little friend are having a tough time getting to “know” each other, and even though she has a short “very forgiving” clutch, I sometimes catch myself “racing” the engine out of first , or when on an incline. I also sometimes “downshift” into the wrong gear and have to readjust while she shudders. I also sometimes have trouble finding reverse, and have to “let up” just a bit before it will slip into that gear. Not always. Just sometimes. No trouble going through all the gears once we start out, all the way to 5th…

It’s tough to admit I’m German and don’t know how to drive a manual transmission correctly, but I was only 11 when I left there :smiley:

Here’s what I would like Y’all to do if you would…

  1. Take a look at paragraph 3 up there, and hopefully tell me it’s me that’s the problem, not the car. (And yes, I did have a mechanic check it out, and other than soon needing brakes, he said the car was in sound condition).

  2. Give me some tips on “clutching”. Like I want to know if it’s okay to hold the clutch in at a traffic light, or should I take it out of gear and use the hand brake, and anything else y’all can think of. I’d especially appreciate hearing from some of you other Elantra owners with manual trannies.



  1. I generally take the car out of gear at stop lights, unless I’m expecting the light to turn green soon. The mechanics can tell you why holding in the clutch is bad (something to do with a “throwout bearing,” or something). I never use the hand brake unless I’m parking, but always then. It sounds like you need to let the clutch out more slowly for a while, and get really used to where it grabs. If it’s slidin’ around on you, you need to have it looked at (but I don’t know for what).

  2. Trouble finding reverse is not uncommon; just put it in first, take it out, release and reapply the clutch, and try to shift into reverse again. As for shifting into the wrong gear, I don’t see how that could be the car’s fault (unless it’s actually shifting into first when the lever’s in the third position.

On something like an old MG, the throwout bearing was graphite. Legend has it that it was prone to wearing out long before the rest of the clutch. If you kept your foot off the clutch as much as possible, you’d minimize the wear on the clutch bearing and reduce the risk of a premature clutch job.

I can’t say whether this is true. None of the beater MG’s I’ve driven lived long enough to need a clutch job.

On a modern car, there should be a more resilient clutch bearing. It should be able to handle the stress of holding it in at traffic lights. In this day and age, I’d consider it a design defect if a clutch couldn’t handle such use.

Having said that, holding the clutch in is a hot issue. People will argue correct stop light shifting technique with amazing passion. I expect a few of these peoople to come along and reply to your post any minute now.

Don’t worry about not finding reverse. I also have that problem (mostly getting it into reverse). That should go away when you get used to it. Also, mis-shifting sucks but once you stop thinking about it, you should be able to shift without a thought.

Racing the engine is pretty common. I’ve been driving my 6 speed for 2 years now and I still sometimes do it. Releasing the clutch smoothly and quickly works well unless you’re racing (when I race I rev up to 3K while smoothly releasing the clutch and putting down the gas, I release the clutch slower than normal to prevent my tires from squeeling).

I sometimes keep my clutch down at a light, sometimes I don’t. Throw out bearings are designed with this in mind. I wouldn’t worry about it at all. What I would try to focus on is rev matching and down shifting (something I never do except to slow down). Rev matching first can help you get into first from a rolling stop and keep your syncros from wearing down early.

I assume that by “Not finding reverse” you mean that it is hard to engage it. I can assure you that this very common with most Korean and Japanese cars. It mostly happens when the car hasn’t warmed up.

Some tips:

  1. Engage the second gear and then put in reverse.

If 1. doesn’t work try this

  1. Engage the second gear and release the clutch just a little bit, until you can feel it “biting”. Then fully depress the clutch again and engage reverse.