I think I'm trashing my clutch

Car advice needed! I drive a manual, always have done. Right now, I am enormously pregnant. Seriously enormous. I keep having to move the car seat a little further back, in order to fit behind the wheel. I just had to move it back again yesterday, and I have to really extend my leg and foot in order to fully depress the clutch. Obviously, this is not good, and of course I try to avoid driving whenever possible, but some days I really do have to drive myself somewhere. This morning was such a time, and when I stopped the car I realised I could smell the clutch. So I’m concluding that I am probably doing bad things to my clutch, because I’m not fully engaging it. My question is - is this OMG stop driving NOW because I’m going to destroy it within a day or two, or can I let it ride (haha!) for another five weeks of driving as little as possible (like maybe twice a week)? The car has 60k on it, and it still has the original clutch. I think I’m generally a reasonable driver, and I don’t ride the clutch or anything dumb like that. I know you can’t give me a definitive answer because it depends on the condition of the clutch already, but I don’t know enough to know if clutch smell means “impending doom” or “you’ll break it if you keep doing that”.

Congratulations on the serriosly enormous baby tummy. Get some platform shoes and keep on driving, sister!

Generally, smelling parts of the car that you usually don’t smell is bad. You won’t destroy the clutch right away unless it’s already in bad shape, but it’s probably not a good idea to keep driving the way you are. Not sure what the solution is in your case, however. If you have to drive you have to drive. Just keep in mind that unless you have a mechanic buddy, replacing a clutch can be pretty expensive. More if other things like the master cylinder or other transmission innards get messed up.

Depends on the clutch of course, but it could go very quickly. Generally though the scent of a burning clutch is a very strong warning sign rather than an abandon ship alarm. Before you drive just consider how bad your situation will be if the clutch does go, whether it will be worth it or not. Sounds like you’ve already committed to a new clutch in this car’s future, so when do you want to deal with that? When you’re enormously pregnant?

  1. Hot clutch = friction = slipping the clutch for too long a time.

Let the clutch pedal out faster.

If you can adjust the tilt of your steering wheel, tilting the wheel upwards may allow you assume a sitting position that is not at the limit of your maximum leg extension.

  1. Are you sure it’s clutch you are smelling? If you’ve changed the oil recently, it could be spilled oil heating up and burning off in the engine compartment.

Either wear platform shoes or attach a block of lightweight wood to the clutch so you can reach it more easily (we had to do this for the brake in my wife’s car last time around – so far so good this time!)

I second this idea. It may be difficult to give your car wood while pregnant, but you should really try.

LOL! :)

Roger - steering wheel is tilted as far up as possible already :( I’m pretty certain it was the clutch, since the place I stopped was my mechanic, as the boyfriend was taking his car in to be serviced :) No oil change very recently.

Platform shoes - hmm. An excuse to buy more shoes? I like the way you guys think.

Thanks for the feedback.

Maybe it’s just me, but smoking oil and burning clutch are two entirely different smells. I’ve smelled both fairly extensively though so maybe I’m just keen to the differences.

I really really recommend against the block-on-the-pedal thing unless you’re absolutely certain it can be attached with no possibility of falling off. If it were to become loose while driving, that can lead to a world of trouble.

It could just be your mutant pregnancy senses picking up car odors you didn’t before. As long as you don’t drive for miles with the clutch pedal depressed and use downshifting instead of braking, that shouldn’t be your problem part.

You could learn how to shift without the clutch. Then you would only need it when starting from a stop. Pop into nuetral when you have to stop. You can downshift too. There is a knack to it, so you will probably grind some gears a bit at first.

Make sure you let the rpms fall (stick in nuetral) to where the next gear would be at that speed, when upshifting. And then, while downshifting, you need to pop into nuetral, give a shot of fuel to the engine to raise the rpms to raise them to where it would be at your current speed on the lower gear and slide it in. Don’t force the shifter into gear, just use gentle pressure and it will slide in. You can watch the tachometer while you drive with the clutch to see where you’re rpms are when you shift.

I don’t push the clutch in all the way… Ever… Just far enough to engage it. I mean, if you’re not pushing it in far enough to engage it, then you’re essentially shifting without the clutch. And that, as far as I know, doesn’t cause it to burn. slikster’s description of clutchless shifting is exactly what I do when I’m in no rush and kinda dawdling. Learning to do that without trashing your tranny is a bit tricky. Your ass really needs to be feeling the seat’s vibrations as does your hand on the shifter.
But I’d bet that if you’re smelling burning clutch you’re inadvertantly releasing it too slow and giving it too much gas when shifting up. Either that or you’re holding it in a bit just to make sure your foot doesn’t lose it. I can easily see how a noticable change in the seat distance from the pedals takes you out of your normal comfort zone and would cause “bad” shifting and pedal control.

Now that I think about it, I’m surprised there isn’t a proper kit you can get that would do the blocks-on-your-pedal type trick.

yeah, shifting without disengaging the clutch is not something i would recommend for everyday driving, pregnant or not. But, it’s handy to know if your clutch cable snaps and you’re too poor to pay for a tow. I know this from first-hand experience.

Why isn’t this thread about eggs?

I think you might be onto something there. I definitely feel more hesitant about changes because the seating position is alien. Haven’t had any more burny clutch smell since I started consciously monitoring myself. Plus I dug out an old pair of chunky shoes, which helps a lot. Roger suggested upthread that I make sure to disengage faster, and I’ve been doing that, maybe that’s solved it. I’m not a clutch hoverer generally.

Hah! You brought back bad memories of a drive to the mechanic with no clutch. I think I managed the entire trip in second gear. I should learn the skill of clutchless changes though. What Slikster described is essentially the same as double de-clutching right?