Car Drivers

How To Break In A Clutch?

Mike Cross
Updated Mar 3, 2021
How To Break In A Clutch

Maybe you just bought yourself a sweet new ride. Or maybe you have just installed some sweet new upgrades to your car.  Either way, you want to be sure that you get the best mileage out of those upgrades and that they are working at their best.

During the lifetime of your vehicle, it may be a reality that the clutch needs to be replaced at some point. Once your car has a new clutch, you may be wondering how you should be treating it. Do you need to break in a new clutch? Will it be a problem if you don’t? How should you break in a clutch?

This article will break it all down for you. Let’s take a closer look at your clutch, what it is and what it does for your car. Then let’s talk about how to treat it best so it loves you back.

How To Break In A Clutch
How To Break In A Clutch

What does a clutch do?

If you drive a manual transmission car, you need the clutch to shift gears. In order to shift gears in a manual transmission car, it is necessary to disengage the power flow from your engine to the transmission. The clutch is a disc that accomplishes this disconnection. The assembly around it includes what's called a diaphragm spring, which allows the clutch to engage or disengage the engine depending on whether you've pressed the clutch.

Do automatic transmission cars have a clutch?

If you drive an automatic transmission, the clutch is technically part of a larger series of systems that come together to form the torque converter. This is different than the clutch you will find in a manual transmission car.

The torque converter connects the engine to the transmission so that the wheels will turn, similar to how a clutch in a manual transmission car functions.

How often should I replace my clutch?

Generally speaking, the clutch on your car should be replaced every 30,000 to 100,000 miles. This is a broad range, and with good reason. The type of driving you do, will determine how often your clutch needs to be changed.

Signs your clutch needs to be replaced

  • You notice scratching when changing gears
  • You notice a burning smell
  • Trouble with acceleration
  • The clutch slips when changing gears

I have replaced my clutch. Now what?

Once you have replaced your clutch and checked for optimal fluid levels, there are still a few steps you need to make. Your new clutch needs to be broken in. This will ensure that everything is working properly.

The clutch parts have to fit together and this takes some wear and time to do properly. Obviously, you don't need to break in the parts; however, the clutch is likely to perform better and last longer if correctly broken it. The general consensus is that a new clutch will need 300-500 miles to be fully broken in.

Tips to break in your new clutch

1. Do not ride the clutch.

This means that you should avoid placing your foot on your clutch for extended periods of time. The clutch should either be untouched or depressed all the way. Failure to do so leads to wearing out of an expensive car part.

2. Do not use your clutch to prevent rolling back on a hill.

It can be tricky to start and shift gears when facing uphill. Instead of using the clutch to prevent your car from rolling while stopped on a hill, you should use the handbrake until you engage the clutch. After engaging the clutch shift to first gear. Then release the clutch followed by the handbrake while bearing down on the throttle.

3. Slow down when approaching stop signs.

You should begin slowing down way in advance of traffic signs. This might prevent you from having to stop completely. This allows you to drop your clutch on the already idling engine thereby preventing clutch slippage.

4. Accelerate gradually.

Try and keep the car’s RPMs low when you start off from a stop. Avoid slipping the clutch unnecessarily and prevent yourself from revving the engine.

5. Don’t use the clutch in place of the brakes.

Remember to use the clutch for its intended purpose. When you are downshifting, try to raise the car’s RPMs by engaging the throttle while you release the clutch. Trying to smooth out downshifting will help save your clutch for getting worn out.

6. Don’t shift gears unnecessarily.

7. Change gears correctly.

It is important to remember where the biting point of the clutch is. This will help in reducing wear. The bite point refers to the place where clutch plates meet. The clamping points are different on cars, so be sure you understand your make and model. Once the clutch has reached its biting point, release the clutch pedal. This will prevent causing unnecessary wear and tear when clutch slippage occurs. Release the clutch pedal smoothly-not too fast and not too slow.

Points to Remember

It is important that you take the time to break a new clutch in properly. Doing this will lengthen the lifespan of your clutch. The clutch disk itself has high and low spots on the disc plate. Disc glazing can occur when you get impatient and break in while the disc isn’t well seated.

If the disc becomes glazed, it becomes smooth and loses friction. When this happens, you will be forced to replace your disc for the clutch to operate properly.

Be sure that you don’t hold on to the clutch any longer than necessary when you are at a stop. Put your car neutral to avoid spoiling the bearing pressing against the clutch's pressure plate.


For manual transmission cars, the clutch is an essential part. If the clutch is damaged or worn, your car will not run properly. In fact, more extensive damage could happen. If you notice any of the warning signs that your clutch is struggling, get it replaced.

Once you have a new clutch, treat it with TLC for the first 300-500 miles. After that, treat it with respect.

Mike Cross
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