Clutch BITING POINT MEANING
As a simple explanation, if you imagine the clutch as two circular plates, one of the plates is connected to the drive wheels and the other to the engine. When the driver places their foot and depresses the clutch pedal, the plates separate and so disengage the engine from the wheels allowing the car to stop or change gear.
When the pedal is released, the plates are forced together, connecting the engine to the drive wheels.
Part of the first driving lesson involves providing a learner driver with an explanation of what the clutch biting point is and also how to physically find it. The bite point is usually around half way through the clutches working travel (around mid-way from fully pressed to fully released).
The does however vary a little from car to car. An experienced driver will have little need to use the bite point except for very slow moving traffic and moving off on a hill. A learner driver may find that using the bite point in general driving helps to reduce stalling.
How to find the biting point
Practice on a quiet, flat road, ensure the handbrake is on, fully depress the clutch pedal and select first gear. You will need to provide some power to the engine by gently pressing the accelerator to around the width of a £1 coin. The bite point revs should be roughly 1500 rpm on the rev counter. Try and remain at roughly 1500 rpm and very slowly raise the clutch.
Listening to the sound of the engine, as the bite point starts to engage, you will hear the engine tone lower. This is because the clutch plates are just starting to join and connect the engine to the wheels and the engine is trying to drive the car forward.
The car will not move as the hand brake is on, so as soon as you hear this change in engine tone, hold the clutch in this position. If the car creaks or groans too much, slightly press the clutch. You have now found the car biting point.
Benefits of using the bite point
Finding the bite point before moving the car off from a stationary position considerably reduces the chances of stalling. Many drivers prone to stalling, especially learner drivers have a greatly exaggerated fear of stalling the car, most of which is alleviated by finding the biting point. Further information can be found in How to stop stalling a car.
When to use the biting point
A learner driver or any driver that has issues with stalling a car may find using the biting point beneficial for:
- moving the car off from a stationary parked position
- moving the car off from a waiting position that requires speed such as roundabouts and junctions
- moving the car off on a hill to prevent rolling back
- use for manoeuvres on the driving test
Biting point and the driving test
It makes no difference to the driving examiner if a learner driver uses the clutch biting point on the car or not. The examiner is simply there to assess that you can drive safely, have good regard for other road users and have good control of the car.
It is often beneficial to use the biting point during driving test manoeuvres such as the turn in the road. The turn in the road can often be requested on a road with steep cambers and finding the biting point eliminates the possibility of hitting the kerb.
Biting point on a hill
All drivers need familiarisation with the clutch biting point if in hilly areas. A driving test will almost certainly involve moving off and stopping on a hill if the location of the test centre provides such a task.
Biting point problems
Constantly using the bite point vastly increases wear on the clutch plates and can shorten the life of a clutch. Although it is important to learn the bite point and understand when to use it, long term it is beneficial to gain proficiency and confidence with the clutch so that the bite point is used only occasionally such as hill starts. The only point at which a clutch wears is just as the plates are coming together, which is exactly what the bite point is.
High biting point
A bite point that is high up the clutches working travel (close to where the clutch stops before removing your foot) may be an indication that the clutch is worn and close to need replacing. This is only an indication however as it may simply need adjusting as every cars bite point is in a different location.
Low biting point
A low biting point where the clutch engages very soon after the pedal begins to be raised may be a problem with the clutch release mechanism, again however, it may simply be a case of adjustment.
Clutch biting point related guides
- Car clutch explained
- Slipping the clutch
- Clutch control
- Ride the clutch
- What is coasting
- How to stop stalling