How abusive to the clutch is this?

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The GF and I were going on a hike today, and where we were going we had the option of two trailheads, the better one being at the top of some pretty steep residential streets with parallel parking. Being as it's a holiday and the weather is nice, it was pretty crowded up there, but there was one spot available with just enough room for my Civic. The angles and available space weren't right for a head-in so I prepared to back in. As I said, it was pretty steep, and after generating some pretty good burning clutch smell without quite finishing the job, I opted to just go to the other trailhead with better parking instead. The GF mercilessly teased me for this, expressing a desire to come back tomorrow in her car and "show me how it's done". My contention is that slipping the clutch to reverse up a steep hill into a parking spot just isn't worth the wear, but she believes that such an infrequent event won't make a meaningful dent on the life of the clutch. AFAIK not slipping the clutch in a situation isn't really an option in a torque-challenged, low geared small-engined car. Being as I haven't owned a given car long enough yet to wear out a clutch (let alone haven't really been driving long enough probably) I really don't have much factual backing, but then neither does she. How much abuse like this can a "normal" econo-box OEM clutch generally take? Just how bad is it to burn the clutch to the point where you can smell it occasionally? I'm not too worried about my car specifically (this is probably the 2nd time in 40k miles that I've done something like this) but generally my feeling is why do the damage when you don't have to? Am I overreacting?
 
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i hope you girl friend is better between the sheets than she is in the passenger seat. yes, thats very hard on a clutch and i would avoid it at all cost.
 
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 Quote:
My contention is that slipping the clutch to reverse up a steep hill into a parking spot just isn't worth the wear, but she believes that such an infrequent event won't make a meaningful dent on the life of the clutch
She is 100% correct. And even if she wasn't.... you just have to let her win the debate and keep your mouth shut.
 
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a clutch should last about 150 -200 000 km even with a few events like these thrown in - i did my share of burning clutches in my life and the cars made it to 200k kilometres.
 
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do not attempt, not worth it, clutch replacement is not a cheap proposition. but if she wants to show how it's done in her car, then fine. some people have a real knack for it.
 

rationull

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Don't think replacing the GF is an option -- I'd much rather just replace the clutch :) Good to hear a few instances aren't really a problem.
 Originally Posted By: HM12460
yes, thats very hard on a clutch and i would avoid it at all cost.
Just to play devil's advocate, do you have any data, or even anecdotes, that point to this sort of situation leading to an unreasonably short clutch life?
 

rationull

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 Originally Posted By: LT4 Vette
And even if she wasn't.... you just have to let her win the debate and keep your mouth shut.
I'm still not very good at this yet :)
 
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the clutch is frickin fine, some people think its a doomsday event. Take this story--- i just replaced the clutch on my 97 corolla. The stock one had 115k, it didnt slip, the flywheel just had heat spots and the shudder was wild. Anyways, in an attempt to "smooth" things out, i did MULTIPLE drag style clutch slipping launches, lots of clutch smell, and also, to avoid the annoying shudder i would rev it to about 2k and slip the clutch heavily from a stop light. Trust me, there has been 10 times as much slipping (on purpoe) in my cars than yours. I knew I would be replacing it anyways, so oh well. Moral of the story, Mechanic showed me old clutch disc, still had life left. I coulda gotten another 50k out of that if the flywheel wasnt jacked up. If you are slick you can hold the ebrake for a second while you slip the clutch when on a big hill. This is the only way I could reverse or go forward up the outrageous angle of the dock entrance of the john hancock tower in chicago. Practice makes perfect. If you are in sync with your pedalwork you shouldnt have slip the clutch more than a second or two even on a steep hill.
 
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I have never abused any clutches to the point where you could smell burnt linings. I think you did the right thing by going to a different spot. Does your GF's car have a stick or auto tranny?
 

rationull

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GF drives stick too. If she couldn't drive stick I wouldn't even have acknowledged the complaint :) But really, you've never smelled clutch? I actually used to burn clutch all the time in my old beater Tercel because it was the only way it could pull itself up the hill to my house with stop signs on it. Maybe that should answer my question on its own but I only had that car for 15k miles or so. Impressive, unless you just didn't have the fan on to smell it :) VW: Thanks for the anecdote to put things in perspective. I do know about the e-brake trick but am usually fast enough from brake to gas that I don't have to use it. I was pulling the e-brake on this hill but because of how steep it is, I really had to muscle it to get the car to hold still. Disc e-brakes have their disadvantages!
 Quote:
If you are in sync with your pedalwork you shouldnt have slip the clutch more than a second or two even on a steep hill.
Given I was parking (and so wanted to be going slow) I'm pretty sure I would've had to slip it to some degree all the way into the spot. Reverse is geared close to first in this car, and idle in first is about 4 mph IIRC. And idle would've probably stalled, so I would've had to be giving it gas and going faster than that [smack into the car behind me]. But, do you know why your Corolla's flywheel was heat-spotted?
 
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If I were smelling burnt clutch, I'd have given it a rest too. I've smelled a few clutches that worked fine after, so you probably didn't do any damage if you stopped the abuse after you could smell it, but why push it further? You should go back to the same spot and let her try it. If she can do it fine without making the clutch smell, I'd be proud of her. A girl that can beat a guy in anything physically-involving is impressive! What does she drive? I've driven my buddy's '97 Acura Civic (1.6EL) quite a bit and the reverse gear is quite high. I could do something like that much more easily in my Mazda3.
 

rationull

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Funny you should say that because she also drives a 2.3 liter Mazda3 (not the hatch though). I think the 3s is better equipped for this kind of maneuver, both because of its torque advantage over the 1.8l Civic and because its clutch engagement range is about 4x as big as the Civic's (the Civic clutch is nearly an on-off switch with engagement near the floor, the 3's is much more progressive).
 
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 Originally Posted By: rationull
GF drives stick too. If she couldn't drive stick I wouldn't even have acknowledged the complaint :) But really, you've never smelled clutch? I actually used to burn clutch all the time in my old beater Tercel because it was the only way it could pull itself up the hill to my house with stop signs on it. Maybe that should answer my question on its own but I only had that car for 15k miles or so. Impressive, unless you just didn't have the fan on to smell it :) VW: Thanks for the anecdote to put things in perspective. I do know about the e-brake trick but am usually fast enough from brake to gas that I don't have to use it. I was pulling the e-brake on this hill but because of how steep it is, I really had to muscle it to get the car to hold still. Disc e-brakes have their disadvantages!
 Quote:
If you are in sync with your pedalwork you shouldnt have slip the clutch more than a second or two even on a steep hill.
Given I was parking (and so wanted to be going slow) I'm pretty sure I would've had to slip it to some degree all the way into the spot. Reverse is geared close to first in this car, and idle in first is about 4 mph IIRC. And idle would've probably stalled, so I would've had to be giving it gas and going faster than that [smack into the car behind me]. But, do you know why your Corolla's flywheel was heat-spotted?
Car came like that.. got the car with 108k and couldnt stand it. Finally got it changed at 115k. Perhaps previous owner made it like that, no idea. Now its nice and smooth
 
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In driving stick since the mid 70's I've never smelt my clutch burning . I've smelt other peoples brakes and clutches burning when on the road. If you smell burning clutch you are doing damage to the clutch. You're either glazing it, or actually wearing it away, either way it's not a good thing for the clutch. Now having said that, the clutch can survive, but I would avoid situations that cause slipping the clutch until it gets hot enough to smell. JMO
 
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 Originally Posted By: VW_TDI_PD
Anyways, in an attempt to "smooth" things out, i did MULTIPLE drag style clutch slipping launches, lots of clutch smell, and also, to avoid the annoying shudder i would rev it to about 2k and slip the clutch heavily from a stop light. Trust me, there has been 10 times as much slipping (on purpoe) in my cars than yours.
I'm hoping you had the flywheel resurfaced when you replaced the clutch, it would have removed the vibration without having to abuse your car the way you did.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Maritime Storm
 Originally Posted By: VW_TDI_PD
Anyways, in an attempt to "smooth" things out, i did MULTIPLE drag style clutch slipping launches, lots of clutch smell, and also, to avoid the annoying shudder i would rev it to about 2k and slip the clutch heavily from a stop light. Trust me, there has been 10 times as much slipping (on purpoe) in my cars than yours.
I'm hoping you had the flywheel resurfaced when you replaced the clutch, it would have removed the vibration without having to abuse your car the way you did.
Wow how long would a clutch last under those conditions? AD
 
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I agree with mechtech2, just use the handbrake until the correct friction point is reached, the just engage the clutch. reverse gear is really slow, so you should be able to park it in one go. if you can't do it in one go, then practice parking on the level until you can. also, modern bumpers can take a slight tap, so you don't really have to worry if you overshoot slightly.
 

rationull

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 Originally Posted By: Captain_Klink
I agree with mechtech2, just use the handbrake until the correct friction point is reached, the just engage the clutch. reverse gear is really slow, so you should be able to park it in one go. if you can't do it in one go, then practice parking on the level until you can. also, modern bumpers can take a slight tap, so you don't really have to worry if you overshoot slightly.
Not sure I agree that "modern bumpers can take a slight tap" -- I would if they weren't painted but unfortunately they are. Like I said above though, to fully engage the clutch I'd have to be going 3 or 4 mph even at idle, and on this hill, I probably would've needed to keep the engine at 1500+ RPM to keep it from lugging. Not saying it can't be done, but significant grades and low-torque engines both compound the problem.
 
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