In previous posts, we’ve discussed the load factors of your clutch system and how to use this info to make the best clutch selection. Now it’s time to look at some of the situations that put a hard load on the clutch, and create the most opportunity for the clutch to slip, wear prematurely, or even break. I’m sure that none of you have ever done any of these things…
- Chassis Dyno – The chassis dyno will inflict about the most load on the clutch system. There is no tire slippage (in most cases) and the goal is to load up the drivetrain to the max in order to tune and obtain numbers. Taking your vehicle from the install lift to the dyno rollers with no break in and you are asking for the clutch to slip.
- Taking off in the wrong gear – Whether intentional or unintentional, the load from taking off in a higher gear is extremely hard on the clutch system. We see customers trying to leave in 2nd gear at the track in order to reduce tire spin. It will probably do that… and also cause the clutch to slip or wear out quickly.
- Traction control at the race track– Always make sure you turn traction control off when you are at the race track (or on the dyno). Traction control methods will load the clutch system harder and increase the risk of damage to the clutch system.
- Shifting 1st to 2nd, then back to 1st – Most good racers will admit when this happens, it inflicts a severe reverse load on the driveline that can cause clutch hubs, diaphragm straps, or in severe cases, clutch covers/rings to break.
- Not rev matching on downshifts – Autocross and road racing is where this is most common since downshifting it is critical to match RPMs as you re-engage the clutch. Failure to do this will put a hard reverse load on the plate or floater and straps, causing bending or breakage. In other words, you will not be racing anymore that day.
- Lugging the engine at low RPM – If you have ever driven along and the RPMs dropped enough for the car to start ‘bucking’ or ‘jumping’, you have lugged the engine. This puts extreme stress on the clutch hub center section and is a big cause of clutch disc breakage.
- Not clutching at the end of a big drag strip pass – Don’t use your engine as a brake at the end of a drag strip run. Push in the pedal and kick the car out of gear – the reverse load against the clutch can cause damage or breakage.
These are just some of the major situations we run across on the tech line. You may have invented your own – if so, we’d love to hear about it! Be smart about how you treat and use your clutch system and it will be your friend for a long time.