How resilient is my clutch ?

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Apr 19, 2004
New York
My daughter wants me to teach her 'stick' on my new Focus. After she learns my wife wants my daughter to give her lessons.

I've owned a number of M/T vehicles which I sold with over 100K and the original clutch.
On those vehicles I was the only driver.

How much does it hurt a clutch when a new driver stalls etc....?
Should be fine - I taught a bunch of people on my car and at 165k the clutch was fine. Just make sure they do not ride the clutch a lot. On a new car- it should not be bad unless they are burning out or riding the clutch the whole time.
If the dump the clutch, there's the possibility of breaking a motor mount.

They are easy to drive as far shifting and such. Something like a truck or Jeep with granny gear would be easier to learn how to start and stop.
You'll be fine, unless you smell it burning, which is doubtful just plodding around. Maybe you'll knock 1000 miles off its life in a weekend?
The price of an education,!!! well worth any decrease in life of the clutch.
Stalling doesnt hurt the clutch, only the driver's pride.

Slipping the clutch can fry it quickly.

Make certain that they know that an occasional stall means they're on the right side of those two extremes.
Unless they are totally oblivious to how a car works and how a manual trans functions with that pedal on the left you should be ok... as long as they don't ride/slip the clutch to the point you have to worry about it wearing out or exploding every time they change gear you will never notice the 1k miles it may take off your clutch life.

When I taught people I mostly worried about them not putting their foot down and completely mashing a gear or going from 2nd to 1st instead of 3rd...
If you teach them right the 1st time, it should be fine. Teach her to use the clutch like an on off switch; slip it enough to get going and leave your foot off the pedal unless you're shifting, coming up to a stop, or are ready to start moving again. And teach her when she's idling for more than a few seconds such as at red lights, or parked, to put it in neutral with foot off the pedal which helps prolong throwout bearing life.
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I'd be more worried about the trans/motor mounts if they shudder the heck out of the car.

The clutch disc itself is pretty tough.
Lots of young folks I know learned on a motorbike, not the family cars. The VW bug had a great first gear for teaching purposes, if you were careful you could get rolling without using ANY gas. Enough practice in a parking lot doing that and the rest came easily. Once you learn the friction point you can do that with almost any car.
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I love the clutch action on the Rat. Then again the clutch was fried when I bought it. Everything from the rear main seal back is new It has 30k showing on the 5 digit odo. Runs like it could be original. Body and frame say maybe 2 or 330 K No clue to history. I think the PO smoked the clutch learning how to drive then beat on the poor little trucklet.
I like to give the first lessons on a ride on Lawnmower.
The student does not get frustrated by stalling, or worrying about gas application while engaging the clutch.they also learn that a clutch has a bite point they need to ease past in order to start smoothly.
You also had to learn to use a clutch in some vehicle at some point.
Unless your wife and daughter are both terminally uncoordinated, they won't cause much harm to the car.
Cars wear and age anyway.
The Focus will last for a number of years and miles, probably long enough to need a clutch at some point in any event.
Originally Posted By: pbm
My daughter wants me to teach her 'stick' on my new Focus. After she learns my wife wants my daughter to give her lessons.

Why would the daughter, who would have just learned, then teach your wife?

Why aren't you teaching your wife?
Originally Posted By: stephen9666
Originally Posted By: pbm
My daughter wants me to teach her 'stick' on my new Focus. After she learns my wife wants my daughter to give her lessons.

Why would the daughter, who would have just learned, then teach your wife?

Why aren't you teaching your wife?

I gave my daughter a lesson on an old Saturn just before I sold it and she picked it up pretty good....she also drove an M/T Mitsubishi Montero diesel on her uncles farm in Europe when she was about 12...she's pretty quick to pick things up. My wife might not be as quick and she thinks I'll be a PITA so she rather my daughter teach her....

PS: What exactly is 'slipping' the clutch?....
Slipping=foot/pressure on the clutch pedal. You slip the clutch to get moving from a stop (partial clutch engagement). The clutch is fully engaged (not slipping) when your foot is on the carpet, or fully disengaged (not slipping) when your foot is on the clutch pedal and the pedal is pressed to the floor).

With a daughter I'm sure you already know this but BE PATIENT! Do not scold, give pointers.

Beginner course: Start with throttle/clutch control. You can shift from the passenger seat while the student concentrates on the wheel and pedals. Left feet are only for clutches and foot-rests! If she gets the car moving but buckin' like a bull calmly tell her to take both feet off the pedals. Have her imagine the pedals are linked by a rope and pulley where only one pedal can be down at a time. Half throttle=half clutch (a little abusive to the clutch but it's a metaphor/starting point..) No throttle=press the clutch (for stopping or shifting), no clutch=press the throttle (for accelerating/driving). Again, be calm. If she stalls the engine give slow deliberate instruction: "Push in the clutch, take your foot off the throttle, turn the key..."

Intermediate course: Draw out a picture of the shifter pattern. With the engine off call out random gears and have your daughter move the shifter into that gear until it doesn't take any thought. It's not hard if you know 1-2 equals towards you plus up or down, 3-4 equals hands-off neutral position plus up or down, and 5-R equals away from you plus up or down. Beginner tip: each gear is roughly good for 10 MPH in normal city driving. 0-10 1st gear, 11-20 2nd gear, 21-30 3rd gear, 31-45 4th gear, 46+ 5th gear. Revert to beginner course (you shift from passenger seat) if she gets flustered.

Check-ride: Student is in full control. Only intervene with suggestions, and only after you count to 10 Mississippi. For example, student is cruising 60 MPH in 3rd gear... (Count silently in your head: 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi...10 Mississippi) "Maybe you should shift into a higher gear."
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