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Clutch control uphill in traffic






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Driving a manual car in stop-start traffic uphill can sound like a nightmare for some new drivers.

If you're learning how to drive a manual car and nervous about stalling or rolling back on a hill then hopefully the tips below will help.

To be successful at this you'll need to be good at hill starts and clutch control. Have a look at our video below.


Video on clutch control in traffic uphill





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Before driving anywhere busy, especially uphill in traffic, you need to be confident where the biting point is as it's slightly different in every car. Practice somewhere quiet with no one around as it will definitely be less stressful.

Let's first have a look at hill starts.

To find the biting point:

1. Press the clutch down
2. Select 1st gear


3. Press the gas (accelerator) slightly. As you'll be moving off uphill, the car will need a bit more power to get it moving than if you was on a flat road. Getting the revs roughly upto about 2 helps the car not stall. It doesn't have to be precise and be careful not to stare at the rev counter or you'll miss what's going on around you. With a bit of practice, you'll get used to the sound of the engine when you set the gas, which is better than looking at the rev counter.

Remember this: Using the gas will not necessarily make you go faster but it will help the car not stall. You'll only move off fast if you release the clutch quickly.

4. Raise the clutch gently until you find the biting point. You know when you've got it as the back of the car will dip down slightly and the engine sound changes.

The car will feel like it wants to move and the only thing holding it back is the parking brake. If you didn't have the biting point and released the parking brake then the car would roll backwards.

Once you feel that you've got the biting point, keep the clutch still, if you raise it much more then the car will either move off quickly or stall.

5. Release the parking brake when it's safe, don't move the clutch until you're driving at a walking pace and then apply a little more gas as you slowly raise the clutch all the way. Accelerate if it's safe, build up momentum before you change up gear.

Clutch control - emerging at an uphill junction

How to avoid stalling

How to do clutch control

Now you know how to do a hill start, the next skill you'll need in slow moving traffic is clutch control.

I'm going to keep this explanation of clutch control as simple as possible but if you're looking for a more technical explanation then have a look at the video below.

In first gear, the car continues to move at about 5mph (idle speeed) without pressing the gas pedal. If you want to drive slower then you could try braking but the car normally judders and eventually stalls. To prevent it stalling and to drive really slow in traffic, you'll need to press the clutch down, and lightly press the footbrake.

Apply a little gas and raise the clutch to the biting point if you want to creep forward.

To slow down slightly, release the gas pedal and lower the clutch down the thickness of a pound coin. To speed up, a little gas and raise the clutch a little. Slowly raise the clutch all the way, lighly pressing the gas when you want to drive faster than a walking pace. If you release the clutch too quickly then you can expect to move off at speed or stall.

Bear in mind that holding the biting point too long can wear out the clutch over time.

This is just a rough guide to clutch control. It's not a replacement to good quality driving lessons with a driving instructor.

Hill starts




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