I was driving on a steep uphill offroad rocky track in a manual car with a rather weak engine, with my family in the back. I stopped at one point to check directions. I'm not used to manual cars and I didn't realise I was in second or third gear when I tried to start off again.

The track was very rocky, so I thought the wheels were trapped behind some rocks and I gave it plenty of revs and clutch to get going, near to the rev limiter. The car would move forward while I was slipping the clutch at almost max revs, then when I released the clutch the car stalled every time (because second / third gear lacked enough power to keep going uphill at low speed).

I did this 3 or so times, then after smelling strong burning, I re-checked my technique and realised my mistake.

Luckily I could complete my trip and drive home. Have I done any permanent damage?

  • The way you are describing this, it sounds like it is a hire car. Are you concerned about someone noticing the rough treatment you have given it?
    – HandyHowie
    May 2, 2019 at 14:10
  • Yes it was a hire car, but it went back no problems. Am still interested in learning - for future reference - if this kind of thing can damage a car.
    – Tomato
    May 9, 2019 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


Yes, your will have definitely worn the clutch, but you may have caused permanent damage..

Slipping the clutch like that will cause excessive wear - how much depends on how high you had the revs, how steep the slope, how much weight, how slowly you let the clutch out etc.

There is, however, the risk that due to the slippage, clutch temperatures may have risen high enough to cause damage. Clutch plate surfaces can become damaged through melting, fusing, being polished etc., and in extreme cases you can damage springs and other components.

I'd suggest you take it to have the clutch looked at.

  • Thanks for the explanation. As mentioned above it was a hire car, but now I know if I mess up my own car like this, it will need looking at.
    – Tomato
    May 9, 2019 at 17:44
  • There's actually a suggested burning in for a new clutch to help it set where u slip the clutch excessively so I don't believe the car needs to be looked unless you notice a difference in performance
    – precise
    Jun 11, 2019 at 5:53
  • @precise - can you provide a citation for that.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 11, 2019 at 11:29
  • google.com/…. Obviously I'm not suggesting you do without research, just making the point that the clutch can handle some pretty moderate slipping & in tomato's story it sounds like it would be fine since he stopped every time he smelled burning
    – precise
    Jun 14, 2019 at 2:14
  • @precise - a) his story definitely is not moderate slipping, and he said he did it a few times and after that smelled strong burning. This is not good! and b) the citation requested was for your suggestion that you should burn in a new clutch. I've read across 14 manufacturers guidance and none suggest that, so if you can point us in the direction of one that does, that would help your suggestion's validity.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 14, 2019 at 7:47

Sounds like you only smelled burning for short time. a little clutch burning ain't good practice but it's normal the price for learning😊 initial slipping that wasn't causing smell can't be very severe so no worries if you ask me.
p.s. I'm driving stick a long time every once in a while I still burn the clutch by mistake

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .