The clutch is a particularly sensitive element of a car, so many drivers may wonder if you can damage it by rev matching. Replacing one can be expensive, so it’s fair to wonder whether rev matching will burn your clutch.
Rev matching does not burn your clutch, but rev matching needs to be executed properly in order for it to work. If the technique is not done well, then you could damage or burn your clutch, but if you do it right, it can actually prevent excessive clutch and engine wear.
Rev matching is a technique designed to reduce wear on your clutch during downshifts, along with improving your performance on the track. In rev matching, you are making the clutch do less work than it usually does. We’ll take a closer look at this below.
Will Rev Matching Burn Out My Clutch?
Rev matching is actually reducing the wear on your clutch when you downshift. When downshifting without using the rev matching technique, you are relying on your clutch to slow down the entire car and match the engine speed to the car’s speed.
Anytime you use the clutch in your car (whether upshifting or downshifting) you are putting stress on the clutch assembly. Using rev matching by blipping your throttle while the clutch pedal is pressed down is a way of taking some extra work away from the clutch. By doing this, you are taking that extra stress off the entire clutch assembly and reducing wear, rather than increasing it.
Rev matching is mostly used on race tracks, and this is where the skill originally developed. All modern-day racing drivers are expected to know how to rev match and how to heel and toe. It has gone from an advanced technique to somewhat of a standard requirement in many racing series.
With automatic gearboxes taking over, and the future of manual transmissions in doubt, the art of rev matching is likely to become much rarer outside of niche racing series. However, practicing this skill is still a key driving experience, especially if you plan to race any manual cars.
How To Practice Rev Matching
The steps to practicing rev matching may seem simple and easy to follow, but mastering this technique takes a lot of practice. But with enough practice, rev matching will become second nature. You will start to develop a feeling for your car, and you will soon know how to match your engine speed to your road speed.
Remember to practice rev matching on a quiet road with no cars around, or on an empty track. When first practicing rev matching, you will need a lot of concentration. You will need to focus on your revs and your road speed more than your surroundings. Therefore, practicing this technique on busy roads can be extremely dangerous.
On the other hand, rev matching by itself also does not require you to use your brakes (as you’ll use these to slow down for the corner before matching the revs). Rev matching while braking is an even more advanced technique known as heel and toe. This is why it is recommended to first practice rev matching at low speeds.
While practicing your technique, you may make a few mistakes, the clutch might slip, and the car will leap forward in a jerking motion. This won’t burn out your clutch immediately, and you shouldn’t be too worried about it. Just remember to let your clutch rest for a while after a few practice runs.
It’s also fine if you don’t get the revs 100% right every time. You will get a better feeling of your car and its engine the more you practice it!
KEY POINTS• Rev matching won’t burn your clutch when done correctly
• It can actually help prevent wear on your clutch
• The technique takes time and practice to master
Are There Any Benefits To Using Rev Matching On The Road?
Rev matching is not an essential skill for everyday driving. When driving at standard road speeds, you most likely won’t be aggressively downshifting into a corner, and you also won’t be looking for the fastest possible exit out of every corner!
This means that there is no major benefit to rev matching in everyday driving on public roads, other than a slight reduction in clutch wear. The only real use of rev matching in this situation would be to practice your technique. However, it is important to practice this technique under safe circumstances with little to no other cars on the road near you, and no sharp corners coming up ahead.
Rev Matching & Clutch Wear
Your clutch will wear out more and more with each use, regardless of how you drive. Clutch wear is caused by excessive heat as a result of friction. When you engage the clutch (with the clutch pedal lifted), friction is created between the clutch disc and the flywheel.
The more you slip or ride the clutch (applying some pressure to the car pedal while the car’s in gear), the more heat is generated. This is ultimately what burns out your clutch prematurely.
Riding The Clutch
Riding the clutch is a very common driving mistake, and even some experienced drivers do this. This is when the clutch pedal isn’t all the way up or pressed down fully. This creates a lot of friction and wear on the clutch unit. This mistake is most commonly made in traffic, when people will control their first gear speed using the clutch, or if you slightly rest your foot on the clutch when in gear.
Stopping The Car From Rolling
Another mistake that people make is using the clutch to stop their car from rolling backwards on a hill. Many drivers will find the clutch bite point while stopped on a hill and then use that to keep the car from rolling. However, this creates a massive amount of wear on the clutch. Using your brakes or handbrake is the solution to this, and that is what they are there for.
Poor Shifting Technique
Another major contributor to clutch wear is incorrect shifting. Some drivers have a quick lapse of concentration and shift before their clutch pedal is fully engaged or let it out without being fully in gear. This can destroy your clutch really quickly.
How Do I Know If My Clutch Is Damaged?
There are a number of different symptoms of a damaged clutch. Generally, your clutch should be fine for around 60,000 miles. Of course, that lifespan can be shorter or longer depending on how the driver treats it, and depending on the brand and model of your car.
A Light Pedal
If your clutch is damaged, the clutch pedal will feel much lighter than usual. A clutch assembly is quite a heavy unit, and therefore it requires quite a bit of force to press down the pedal. A worn-out clutch will feel really light and easy to press down.
If your clutch unit is wearing out, you will notice your clutch slipping more often. This will become especially frequent under heavy strain situations such as going uphill or when towing. When the clutch slips, you will notice that the pedal is fully pushed down, but the clutch does not disengage.
Difficulty Shifting Gears
Another symptom of a worn clutch is that you will have some difficulty shifting gears. With a clutch in good condition, gear changes will be smooth and easy to make. However, if you have to use extra force to put the car into gear, it is possible that your clutch is wearing out.
Some other symptoms include hearing a grinding noise when the clutch pedal is pressed down, the clutch pedal staying on the floor, and being able to smell your clutch burning after some use.
Clutch Replacement Costs
Clutch units can be really expensive to replace. You will be looking at around $600 to $1200 to replace the clutch on a standard sedan car, but it can be cheaper depending on the model. It becomes even more expensive when it comes to high performance or more specialised engines.
KEY POINTS• Rev matching is most useful on a race track
• It can prevent some clutch wear when done properly
• A damaged clutch will present various different signs, and a replacement can be expensive
Rev matching won’t damage your clutch if you do it correctly, and it can actually prevent a bit of wear on your clutch. It takes time to master the skill, and it’s most effective when used on a race track. Rev matching aside, it’s important to use your clutch correctly to avoid needing a costly replacement.
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