Drivers often declare that it is wrong to slip the clutch, but in fact is is a perfectly correct procedure in certain circumstances. It is the only method the driver has of making the car go slower than its normal minimum speed in its lowest gear and every drives uses the technique
Do not confuse this legitimate technique with the fault known as ‘riding the clutch’ This is an entirely different matter and is quite wrong as it means using the clutch pedal as a foot rest while driving along. The slight pressure doesn’t noticeably disengage the clutch but is enough to weaken the mechanism and increase wear. Interestingly I’ve noticed this recently amongst young driver taking advanced test, which suggests that ADI’s may not be paying close attention to the feet movements during learner training.
An important point to note is that it is incorrect to slip the clutch in other than bottom or reverse gear.
Exercise – below is an exercise I’ve used for years in training clutch control – I’ve had learners manage the other manoeuvres straight off once they’ve done this.
Stop the car on a level quiet road in the normal driving position around 3 feet from the kerb
The object of the exercise is to go as slow as possible without at any time actually stopping
Acceleration must first be set, the learner is often afraid to apply the accelerator if (s)he only wants the car to creep along but (s)he must understand that the amount of acceleration applied only affects the speed when the clutch is right up and at no time in this exercise will the clutch be right up
Steady acceleration is given in order to keep the engine and transmission smooth (Driving Examiners rightly frown upon the practice of manoeuvring on the clutch only unsupported by acceleration)
The speed is regulated entirely with the clutch.
The essence of keeping the required control of the car is to anticipate every change of motion – Raise the clutch before the car stops, press the clutch before it gains speed.
Usually it will be found that after two or three modifications of the pedal position a point will be established where the car will merely continue to crawl along.
This should be carried out between two fixed points, for example lamp posts and timed.
The Instructor should set the pace first, with the objective being to take the longest time possible without stopping the vehicle, so that the pupil has a target time to aim at.
I recommend that the exercise be done three times, and it is nearly always found that the learner is able to better his own time with each attempt. A fair standard is attained if the pupil is one fifth quicker than the instructor over a journey lasting one minute.
This does not unduly increase clutch wear and can be regarded as insurance against misuse of the clutch later on.