So here you are. Clutch feels like it is starting to slip. Or it feels mushy. Or it isn’t disengaging completely. Time to pick a new one, but how do you know what to choose? This title says it all, picking a clutch is like picking a suit. No one size or style is going to be right for everybody. You need make your selection based on YOUR car and YOUR desired ‘feel’ and ‘performance’.
Here is how NOT to pick a clutch. Put a post on your favorite social media platform and ask for advice. You will get 532 different answers and some of them will be from people who don’t even have a clutch in their car, or just advocate for a specific brand because their ‘buddy’ has one in their car (or did in 1980). Instead, consider these more personal questions:
What are my expectations for a new clutch system?
Do I want it to drive smoothly and have a light pedal like stock? Do I need extra holding power for engine upgrades, now or in the future? Am I okay with sacrificing some driveability (i.e. smoothness of engagement) in order to have a higher holding capacity?
What sort of load will the new clutch system see in my car?
Load is the most important factor in selecting a clutch, and we’ll talk more in depth about that in a future column. For now, keep in mind that this means any factors that will contribute to more load on the clutch system. These include, but are not limited to, Tire size and type, rear gearing, low gear in the transmission, and perhaps most importantly, the weight or mass of the vehicle. Any time you are adding load to the clutch system, you must compensate in kind with your selection.
What kind of driver am I, and where is the car going to be used?
This is where you have to level with yourself! If your intended use is to drive your car every other weekend to car shows and back home to the garage, you probably don’t need an aggressive clutch that is capable of massive holding power. Conversely, if you are a ‘spirited’ driver, or if you ‘beat the crap out of’ your car, or go the track every other weekend, you need to compensate properly in your clutch selection with something capable of holding more power or withstanding higher loads.
Don’t get hung up on horsepower ratings.
The most important factors in your clutch selection are those listed above. Sure, the horsepower is a consideration, but it’s far from the only one.
When I get a call asking for a clutch recommendation, these are some of the most important questions I ask. And the manufacturer you choose should be asking the same questions. If they are not, find one that does and truly cares about getting you in the right clutch for you, not just selling you the ‘one size fits all’ cookie cutter suit.