How to test your clutch to see if it's slipping.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1996 Toyota 4Runner with a five-speed transmission and 130,000 miles. I take good care of it, and I know how to drive. It still has the original clutch, which works fine. But I know it will eventually wear out and need replacing. Here's the question: I have two weeks off coming up. Should I use the two weeks to replace the clutch? Until now, I have always used the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule. -- Charles

TOM: So do we. More importantly, if it ain't broke, don't break it!

RAY: Well, you say that the clutch is fine, Charles, but you should really make sure "it ain't broke" before making a decision. There's a simple test you can do yourself. Drive up to a large tree, or another immovable object.

TOM: Like a mother-in-law?

RAY: Sure, that qualifies. And with the front of the car touching the immovable object and the engine running, set the parking brake and put the car in Fifth gear.

TOM: Then give it a bunch of gas (as if you were starting off on a hill) and slowly let out the clutch. If the car stalls, the clutch is fine. That's what's supposed to happen. But if the car continues to run in Fifth gear with the clutch pedal all the way out, then the clutch is slipping and it does need to be replaced.

RAY: In which case two weeks ought to be just about enough time, Charles. Especially if you work weekends. Good luck.

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