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In my 27.5 years of car ownership, I've owned two Toyota Tercels and my current Honda Fit -- all manual transmission (MT). I've owned my 2013 Honda Fit (Canada) for 6 years, and I find that the way the clutch pedal swings downward close to the floor requires one to unhinge one's ankle, sort of pointing one's toes, in order to fully depress the pedal. At the same time, I need to contract muscles in the butt and lower back to ensure the leg is delivering the force downward.

When I first drove the Fit, I found that this unfamiliar motion quickly caused some knee pain. I've since found ways to mitigate it by ensuring that my leg is positioned slightly to the outside, and the foot angled inward a bit when pressing the pedal. But it still causes problems that I further mitigate with cold compresses every night.

I suspect that the main source of my problem is that unhinging of the left ankle so that I'm tippy-toe-ing the pedal (or rather, using the ball of the foot), while extending my leg and using butt and lower back muscles to maintain downward pressure is an exacerbating factor. It's a rather awkward move. Perhaps the amount of attention given to the design of the clutch pedal was limited because of the limited market size? MT has become quite rare in North America.

My left leg is my good leg, and I keep reasonably fit with low impact strength exercises. I don't normally consider that limb to be predisposed to this kind of problem.

I'm wondering how systematic the problem is. Am I an oddball in finding this problematic, or is it more widespread? I'm not sure how easy it is to get an idea of this from responses, given the miniscule portion of the market that is MT.

As well, I suspect that it is unrealistic to have the pedal modified? It would be changing a key part of the design, and I wouldn't really know how to spec out a better design. It seems like changing cars would be more feasible.

  • My suggestion? Sit closer to the steering wheel. Most people don't realize they aren't sitting close enough. If you think your chest is too close to the steering wheel, then lean the seat back a little bit. I really don't have a "good" answer for you ... I don't believe many people will. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 13 '19 at 23:23
  • Thanks, Paulster2. Over the past 6 years, I've optimized the heck out of the front-back positioning and the seat back tilt. I'm positioned quite forward, is what I hear from others, Any more and my knees bang against the (admittedly bulky) underside of the dash. The seat pan height and tilt are fixed, which is unfortunate, considering that the cushioning toward the front of the seat seems plusher than the bum area. I suspect that these missing degrees of freedom might have enabled better adjustments, allowing for greater alleviation of the problem. – user2153235 Oct 13 '19 at 23:27
  • Well, there is buy an automatic - a solution I have heard from many others... One thing I remember was fitting a brake servo to the clutch to reduce the load for the driver - that worked well but does not change the geometry. – Solar Mike Oct 14 '19 at 5:11
  • If I was going to replace the car, I would try to replace it with an MT. Automatics are so good these days that it's questionable whether an MT can be more efficient, but I find it safer to drive because you have to be constantly aware of your speed and distance to other vechicles, stopping points, and turning points so that you shift. Hard to get drowsy on city streets, too (though highway is a different matter). Of course, if the dearth of MT drivers leads to poorly thought out MT designs, automatic would be the only solution. – user2153235 Oct 14 '19 at 5:26
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    As a note I've heard of people bending pedals for reasons such as this though since I've never done it I'll leave it to others as to if it may help here – Gabe Wisneski Oct 14 '19 at 17:37
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Go to a website advertising cars for sale. Locate some dealers in your are selling Honda Fits with a year similar to your vehicle. Go to the dealers and test drive these Fits to get an idea of what the normal clutch pedal feels like.

  • Interesting approach. I'd have to be careful getting there. Park nearby and walk the rest the way to avoid questions. With today's manufacturing controls, however, I doubt a Honda would have an "off" clutch pedal. I strongly suspect that it is more a question of the design itself. – user2153235 Oct 14 '19 at 12:46
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    It does not have to be that complicated. You can just say you like your car and are shopping for a friend :) – D. SM Oct 14 '19 at 22:33
  • Hmmm. How much does the clutch pedal change from one year to another? I guess there's only one way to find out. Thanks. – user2153235 Oct 15 '19 at 0:16

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