How can clutch last longer?

cpzhangcpzhang Member Posts: 16
edited March 2014 in Nissan
I have a 90's Sentra 4 spd with 87k and just
replaced clutch, flywheel and throwout bearing,
which totally cost $700. I want to know what is the
right way of driving in order to make the clutch
last longer. I still want to keep this car a 2
years and another 30k or so. Other than this
replacement, this car runs well.

Some friends told me that when stop, put the gear
to neutral and just step on the brake, leave clutch
pedal free. Will this help?

Also anything else to improve the life time of


  • fronobulaxfronobulax Member Posts: 23
    87K is pretty darn good for a clutch. My two cents:
    1. Don't rest your left foot on the clutch pedal when crusing. Place your foot on the floor to the side.
    2. Don't hold the clutch down with the car in gear while waiting at a stop light. Put the car in neutral when you come to a stop.
  • blugillblugill Member Posts: 36
    Agreed, 87k is good. I know some who have only gotten 10k. My dad got 150k from his though, but he drives a nisson compak truck, and noted that he has seen smaller cluthces in full size trucks.

    The weight of the car, and the size of the clutch are big variables. You can't control them.

    When starting from a stop use a little gas as possibal. You need to touch the gas pedal, but don't do anymore, keep the engine running but no more.

    The clutch wears ONLY when it is partially engaged and the engine is turning at a different rate from the transmission. (Note that the former almost always implys the latter)

    There are people who can shift between gears without using the clutch. They match power, pull the transmission out of gear (it should come right out if you do this right) and then match the engine speed to the speed of the transmission in the new gear and slide into that gear. DO NOT DO THIS because it can easialy damage the synchromesh and then you are looking at a new transmission. Learn the technique though, it can save a little wear. Not much though as most of the wear is starting from a stop.

    The poilet bearing went out in my clutch a few years ago at 85k. We looked at the clutch and concluded that we could fix it, put a new bearing in and get anouther 80k. Then we threw the old clutch away, once we had everything apart there was no sense messing with worn parts even if they were good.

    The advice to have the clutch out at a stop protects the poilet bearing and throwout bearing. Technically it puts more wear on the clutch, but this wear is nothing compared to the wear on either of those bearings. Yes you should keep the clutch out at a stop, but this solves a different problem then the one you had.

    That said, $700 sounds like a lot for a clutch. I was quoted $400 to mine (did it myself though), which included a $200 clutch, I got the clutch itself for $100.

    I question the need to replace the flywheel. Unless your starter is broken it should be fine. (If you had only gotten 5k miles from the clutch I'd suggest that you were racing and overheated the pressure plate and flywheel, but with 80k miles I wouldn't see any need for this work other then a machanic needing a boat payment)

    I'm inclined to suggest that you didn't need a throwout bearing, but they are so cheap (compared to taking the transmission out to replace it, they do not last forver, and I would expect the next clutch to out last it) I'd have had it done anyway. anyway.
  • yfeityfeit Member Posts: 2
    If you have a mechanical clutch (not hydraulic) you need to periodically adjust the tension on the clutch cable. Failure to do this will lead to early clutch/bearing problems. I do not think that the flywheel replacement was a bad idea. It is a friction surface, much like the rotor in a brake. Your mechanic could have had it resurfaced on a lathe it was not severely worn. A new one means that you wont have to take the clutch apart later on ($400 labor) just because you saved $150 on the flywheel.
  • codakcodak Member Posts: 10
    I don't mean to seem like an idiot about cars, but how can you tell if you have a mechanical clutch or a hydraulic one? I looked in the owner's manual for my car, and it didn't say in there what type of clutch it is.
  • kellybkellyb Member Posts: 23
    It can be tough to tell, unless you know what to look for.

    Under the hood, check for a small master cylinder. Looks like your brake master cylinder, but much smaller. Would also be in the same general area.

    Also, check the owner's manual to see if they recommend a clutch fluid, usually DOT4 brake fluid.

    If you don't find a master cylinder, then try to locate a cable. It helps to have an assistant move the clutch pedal while you're looking.

  • booda3dbooda3d Member Posts: 13
    I have a 1983 Honda Accord 5 speed with 162,000 miles on it. The clutch still works fine and has never been fixed or replaced. Engine and transmission are also in excellent condition and have not had to have any repairs made to them except for normal maintenance such as changing oil and other fluids and filters.

    I disagree about putting the car in neutral and
    leaving the clutch pedal out at stop lights. Both my wife and I leave the car in gear and hold the clutch down while waiting at stop lights, and have always done so. Obviously that has not had a negative impact on our clutch's durability.

    One thing we do not do, is race or rev the engine to high rpms before shifting to the next gear.
    Also we do not rest our foot on the clutch pedal while driving. I usually downshift to a lower gear when approaching a stop sign or light in preparation for a stop. This too does not seem to have any bad impact on our clutch or transmission.

    Of the all the manual transmission autos we have owned (51 Ford, 49 Dodge, 70 VW, 72 Mazda RX-3 wagon, 73 Mazda RX-2 coupe, 77 RX-4 Wagon, 83 Honda Accord), the only clutch I ever had to rebuild or replace was the 1977 Mazda RX-4 station wagon with about 80,000 miles on it, but then I occasionally used that car to pull a 3000 pound boat and trailer, so that should not be too surprising, especially since I needed to slip the clutch on some launching ramps in order to get the boat out of the water without stalling the engine (obviously was near the maximum weight that car could pull). Incidentally all these cars had 100,000 or more miles on them when we got rid of them except the RX-2 which had less
    than 75,000 miles when we traded it in for the 1977 RX-4.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'd have to agree, 87K miles is very good for a shouldn't be asking for lessons on clutch life, you should be giving them.
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    I used to shift my Mach 1 from first to third a lot and bypass second gear during just normal driving. Had to wind the engine out a little to keep from lugging, but the Mach 1 had gobs of torque, so it wasn't much strain. Used to do the same with my old Impala with 409 with about the same results. I had a Toyota with a 5 speed that I did this with also, but with less torque I had to really rev it up in first gear, so I gradually stopped doing it. It's funny, but I havn't thought about this for years-makes me want the old cars back!
  • btroybtroy Member Posts: 92
    I don't think 87K miles on a clutch is that high. Sure, many clutches burn out before that, but I think we should be expecting our clutches to last the "life of the vehicle" (whatever that means). I have taken clutches out to 125K-145K on 3 cars before selling them for other reasons. I honestly believe you can do that with almost any vehicle if you are gentle on the clutch when starting from a stop. Keep your revs below 1500 until the clutch fully engages. Even lower is even better. Try to get fully engaged at the lowest possible vehicle speed that doesn't cause the engine to lug. If you feel the need to take off fast, floor it only *after* the clutch is fully engaged. And never hold your car on a hill by slipping the clutch. You'll never replace another clutch.
  • slwinderslwinder Member Posts: 8
    I have a 1988 Honda Accord with 208,000 miles. It still has it's original clutch. The Honda dealer that has been servicing my car has said that the average life of the clutch is about 85,000 miles. I think that with care you can get much more life out of it. I NEVER hold the clutch pedal down at stop lights. I ALWAYS have the car in neutral at stop lights. I NEVER race through the gears. I ALWAYS allow each gear to fully engage before I shift up or down to the next gear.
  • briansbrians Member Posts: 14
    Clutch life has many, many factors. Engineering design, possibility of defects, driving style, vehicle weight, clutch material/duty rating, etc., etc.

    I had a Honda civic with 150K miles, and it had the original clutch, which performed fine 'til the day I sold it. I had the car for 110K of it's life, and I OFTEN wound the engine to redline and shifted, left hard from a stop, and NEVER put the car in neutral at stops...that variable can be discounted, as no measurable clutch wear (flywheel or clutch disc) occurs while the engine is running with the clutch engaged.

    A large factor in clutch wear is downshifting to brake the vehicle other than at low speeds. The brakes are for slowing the vehicle, not the transmission, unless you're driving an eighteen wheeler, which needs both. For a passenger car, a rev-matched downshift will extend the life of the clutch measurably.
  • steve82steve82 Member Posts: 4
    I purchased my first manual car last september and have a question about downshifting.

    If I am passing someone doing 50mph and I downshift from 5th to 3rd will that cause excessive clutch wear? Or is it okay as long as I rev-match before releasing the clutch in 3rd?
  • dbakalardbakalar Member Posts: 39
    WHY would you downshift all the way to 3rd gear? If I'm on the highway and really need to punch it, I'll sometimes drop to 4th to pass someone, but never down to 3rd at highway speeds!
  • steve82steve82 Member Posts: 4
    Well, I figured since my car will do 85mph in 3rd gear and most of the power is in the high RPMs because of the VTEC motor that this would be the best thing to do.

    I asked a friend the same question posted above and he said that if I have to downshift all the way to 3rd to pass the person maybe I shouldn't be passing them in the first place.
  • shmangshmang Member Posts: 297
    Just go ahead and do it, it won't hurt as long as you rev the engine to the speed range(it would be perfect to match, but normally it is impossible as you don't know how fast the wheel is spinning.)

    I have a prelude and I do it often, before that I own an Accord and I put 130k before I sell it. I do the same thing and the clutch is just fine. (the buyer think I have changed the clutch recently when he test drive the car.)
  • booda3dbooda3d Member Posts: 13
    I am in agreement with most of your comments in post #11; however, I disagree about not downshifting. I frequently downshift with my '83 Accord 5 speed to slow the vehicle. I certainly have no problems with the clutch or transmission so far. I have owned this vehicle since it was brand new, and it now has 173,000 miles on it with the original clutch, transmission, etc. Just had it serviced, and only problem mentioned by service manager was that clutch cable was wearing through its cable housing. Guess one should expect that with the number of shifts done over the past 17 years.
  • thetexanthetexan Member Posts: 5
    The clutch is for moving the car forward under normal driving. Do not use the clutch for compression braking unless needed in an emergency or driving in foul weather, rain, snow. Or you are at a racetrack. Brakes are for stopping the car. Brakes cost relatively little to replace and are easily accesible if you need to work on them yourself. When coming to a stop move the shifter to neutral and brake. Do not use the clutch to hold position on a hill either. BAD. Do not ride the put even a little presure on the clutch pedal while driving. This will wear out a clutch faster than you ever thought possible. When sitting at a light, wait until the light turns green to put the car in gear and get moving. Sitting at a light with the clutch pedal all the way to the floor will eventually wear out the pressure plate springs prematurely. Im speaking from lots of experience. I own a Nissa n pick up with 130K on it. Original clutch.
  • booda3dbooda3d Member Posts: 13
    You still have a ways to go to top my 173,000 miles.
    I DO use my transmission to slow myself down, and always have. I almost always depress the clutch at stop lights unless it is at a place that I know
    will be an unusually long winded stop. I have never had to replace or rebuild a clutch in any of my autos except a 1977 Mazda RX-4 wagon which I used to pull a 3000 lb boat and trailer. This includes my 83 Honda which I bought new and now has 173,000 miles and counting. It also includes a 1970 VW which we got rid of with ~80,000 miles, a 1973 Mazda RX-3 wagon with 93,000+ miles on it when we sold it, a 1949 Dodge and a 1951 Ford which I do not remember the miles.
  • pat455pat455 Member Posts: 603
    Folks, it seems we have several discussions about clutch issues going on. Let's head over to Clutch Questions (Topic #170) to continue this.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
This discussion has been closed.