Are you clutch up or clutch down?
Over recent weeks as a passenger I have seen many drivers putting the clutch down every time they brake or slow down. Some banter has taken place and the overwhelming answer I am given when its challenged is… “That’s how I was taught”, I think you may be getting mixed up with slow down with your brake pedal and then put the clutch down and match the gear to whatever speed you are doing and then bring the clutch back up :>)
As a driving instructor I really do not believe that other instructors have taught any learner driver to put their clutch down EVERY TIME they use the brake pedal… because that’s just downright dangerous and would come under the banner of what we call coasting.
...travelling either with the clutch pedal held down or with the car in neutral. This happens naturally for very short periods when changing gear and when coming to a stop. However, many motorists drive in this way for extended periods under the perception it is saving on fuel.
Coasting quite simply is driving with the momentum of the car and the speed being regulated by gravity. E.g. You drop a football on a hill, it rolls to the bottom picking up speed as it goes, it only stops when it hits something, the speed being governed by the steepness of the hill
Let’s now turn that football into a lump of metal with four wheels your car about a ton in weight… that’s heavy… Do you really want a ton of metal freewheeling down a hill towards a busy road?
I can hear you say, “I can use my brakes to control the speed” … Ah!!! Have you ever heard of “brake fade?”
“…is the reduction in stopping power that can occur after repeated or sustained application of the brakes”
The longer you keep your brakes on, the hotter they get, the hotter they get the less chance you have of stopping for that busy road at the bottom of the hill. It will also have a severely detrimental effect on the health of your brake pads and shoes, which will need replacing much more often as you have either burnt or worn them out.
I may have digressed a little there. Let’s go back to the title of this blog post… Are you a clutch up or clutch down kind a guy/girl?
As an instructor who believes in doing things properly maybe old school, I don’t know… but you really should be a clutch out (up) driver. When the clutch is up you can use a lower gear to help you slow down on steep gradients without wearing your brakes out using your engine braking
…the process of slowing down a vehicle by stepping off the accelerator and changing down gears instead of pressing on the brake pedal.
With your clutch up you have the luxury of easily accelerating out of trouble, whereas if you accelerate with the clutch down your car is simply going to roar at you go nowhere.
Here's what the highway code says about coasting…
Coasting. This term describes a vehicle travelling in neutral or with the clutch pressed down. It can reduce driver control because
- engine braking is eliminated
- vehicle speed downhill will increase quickly
- increased use of the footbrake can reduce its effectiveness
- steering response will be affected, particularly on bends and corners
- it may be more difficult to select the appropriate gear when needed
"I can save fuel if I keep the clutch down"
Finally from me, it's a myth that coasting helps you save fuel. Modern engines have the technology built in to help your car manage its fuel consumption. Driving in the correct gear for the speed you are driving will be the ideal way of conserving your fuel.
If you are looking for fuel saving tips then check out our previous blog post that is full of them :>) Fuel saving tips for drivers in Bury and Bolton
So, for the last time, are you a clutch up or a clutch down driver?
Thanks for reading…