I drive a VW Rabbit with a speed manual transmission...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I drive a 1984 VW Rabbit with a 5 speed manual transmission. Without revving the engine, I can successfully skip first gear and start driving in second gear. Will this significantly extend the life of the clutch?

TOM: Extend the life of the clutch? As my brother has said to me many times, Tim; "Au Contraire, Piston Puss."

RAY: I understand your logic, Tim. Your theory is that if you start in Second gear, you make fewer shifts, right? Because you eliminate that "extra" shift between First and Second.

TOM: But the truth is, that shift from First to Second is much easier on the clutch than what you're doing.

RAY: Right. You say you don't have to rev up the engine, and that may be true, but in order to start in Second gear, you've got to let the clutch out very, very slowly; much more slowly than you're supposed to. And letting the clutch out slowly (a.k.a. "riding the clutch") is probably the worst thing you can do to it.

TOM: So unless you're starting down a hill, or coming out of a "Texas Rolling Stop," our advice is to put First gears first, Tim.

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