*** C is for Clutch ***
In Manual Transmission Cars, (ie, with a Gear Lever and Clutch Pedal) the clutch pedal decides if the engine is connected to the wheels.
When the clutch pedal is all the way up, the engine is fully-connected to the wheels.
With the clutch pedal pressed all the way to the floor, it disconnects the engine from the wheels.
Between the fully-up and fully-down position is the biting point, where the engine is just beginning to get connected with the wheels. This point is essential for getting the car moving smoothly, and you will need to practice finding it.
The biting point is very sensitive and in lessons with me, we will talk about moving your left foot up and down on the clutch about the thickness of a pound coin, to come 'on' and 'off' the biting point.
The biting point varies depending on the type and model of a car, and its age. The older the car, the higher the biting point usually is.
In most modern cars with an ECU (Engine Control Unit) the car will move away very, very slowly at the biting point - you can use this to crawl forwards or backwards in tight spaces, such as in heavy traffic or entering/leaving parking spots.
However, to move away normally from a stop, slight pressure on the Accelerator is needed to move away smoothly. We will practice the amount of pressure needed in our lessons.
How does the clutch work?
To see an animation of how a clutch works see this video from Simon Raisbeck:
To see a real clutch, check out this video from Eric the Car Guy
To see how it interacts with the gear box see this video from Learn Engineering:
When is the clutch used?
The clutch is used for a few things when driving, and it can be thought of as a standby pedal.
When moving off from stationary, the clutch is raised slowly to bring the car out of 'standby'.
When changing between different gears, the clutch is used to temporarily take the power away from the wheels while the gears reposition themselves.
When coming to a complete stop, the clutch is pressed down to put the car into 'standby'.
*Sections reproduced with the kind permission of Mercury Driving School