Driver Tips

Proper training of drivers and mechanics can go a long way towards extending clutch life. Anyone who drives the truck, whether on or off highway, should be taught how to operate the vehicle properly.

The most critical points to cover in driver training programs are:

  • Learning to start in the FIRST gear
  • Proper clutch engagement
  • Recognizing clutch malfunctions

The most important POINTS that can affect clutch’s performance are :

1. STARTING THE VEHICLE IN THE PROPER GEAR

A driver can burn the clutch trying to start in the higher gears with a partially or fully loaded vehicle and more so up a gradient. An empty truck can be started satisfactorily in a higher gear than when partially or fully loaded. Drivers should be shown what is the right gear to be used for safe starts when the truck is empty or loaded. With the diesel powered trucks he should select the gear where the vehicle moves smoothly with an idling engine or if necessary with just enough throttle to prevent stalling the engine.
After the clutch is fully engaged, the engine should be accelerated to near governed speed for the up-shift into the next higher gear.

2. GEAR SHIFTING TECHNIQUES

Many drivers up shift into the next gear – or even skip-shift into a higher gear – before the vehicle has reached the proper speed. This type of shifting is almost as damaging as starting off in a higher gear, resulting in excessive burnt clutch.

3. EXCESSIVE VEHICLE OVERLOAD

Ceramic clutches are designed with a reasonably high factor of safety to prevent slippage at higher GVW/GCW. But if the overload is excessive, and if the total gear reduction in the power train is not sufficient to handle excessive overloads, the clutch will suffer, particularly on steep gradients resulting in burnt overheated clutch.

4. RIDING THE CLUTCH PEDAL

This practice is very destructive to the clutch since a partial clutch engagement permits slippage and excessive heat. Riding the clutch pedal will also put a constant thrust load on the release bearing, which can thin out the lubricant and also cause excessive wear on the pads. Release bearing failures can be attributed to this type of operation.

5. HOLDING THE VEHICLE ON AN INCLINE WITH A SLIPPING CLUTCH

This practice of using the clutch to do the job normally expected of the wheel brakes also results in burnt overheated clutch.

6. COASTING WITH THE CLUTCH RELEASED AND TRANSMISSION IN GEAR

This procedure can cause high driven disc R.P.M. It can result in bursting or throwing the facing off the clutch discs. Driven disc speeds of over 10,000 R.P.M. have been encountered in such cases.

7. ENGAGING CLUTCH IN LOWER GEARS WHILE COASTING

This procedure can result in tremendous shock loads and possible damage to the clutch, as well as the entire drive-train.

8. REPORTING ERRATIC CLUTCH OPERATION PROMPTLY

Drivers should report erratic clutch operations as soon as possible. to give the maintenance personnel a chance to make the necessary inspection, clutch adjustment, linkage adjustments, lubrication, etc., thereby avoiding possible clutch failures and breakdowns while on the road. The importance of free-pedal travel should be brought to the driver’s attention as well as the mechanic.

9. CLUTCH ADJUSTMENTS

Drivers and mechanics should be made aware of the fact that Lipe/ Clutches have provisions for an clutch adjustment. This permits the clutch itself to be readjusted while it is in the vehicle. Details of the clutch adjustment are covered in the LIPE/SETCO Service Manuals.

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