Clutches and brakes go hand in hand, when one is overused or abused the other one typically is as well. Maintaining a good working order of brake and clutch is paramount to keeping your manual transmission vehicle in the best possible working order, and saving in the long run when it comes time to replace or repair damaged or faulty parts such as these.
However, too many road users are not aware of the small incidences that occur daily which could lead to damage or breakdown of these essential parts, but following the tips below will help right those wrongs and keep you going for many km’s to come.
In layman’s terms, make sure you apply a force to brake or change gears that is proportionate to the weight of the vehicle and how fast you are going. Don’t brake harshly when going 60km/h with a light vehicle, unless it’s an emergency situation. Overuse of the braking system will pace unnecessary force and pressure on the vehicle which could lead to premature failure.
Beyond the basic assumption that more cycles lead to a shorter life for the clutch or brake, the other factor to consider is heat. Every time a clutch or brake engages, heat is generated between the contact faces. If a clutch or brake is cycled to the extent that it generates more heat than it can dissipate, the heat will cause damage (warping, cracking, melting) and can literally burn up the friction surfaces. In other words, brake for shorter amounts of time to allow the heat to be alleviated [properly. In terms of clutches – don’t ride on it! Change gears and carry on as quickly as possible. That’s you, John, who rides his clutch in traffic!
Selecting the wrong type of brake is a concern, especially when worker safety is involved and people are working in and around the operation. We often ask questions about safety when we’re consulting with an end-user. Many times, they don’t think about the safety implications of a hydraulically or pneumatically applied brake if power is lost. In those cases, it is better to have a spring-applied brake with a hydraulic or pneumatic release. That way, if power is ever lost, the brake will engage. Another issue is over-designing a brake, especially for an in-plant operation. Specifying a hydraulic brake where pneumatic power is readily available and fully capable of doing the work requires the installation of an intensifier to convert pneumatic power to hydraulic, with added expense and reduced efficiency. To avoid over or under-designing a brake application, it’s important to carefully calculate the amount of dynamic and static force required.