Maintenance of a stick shift car usually revolves around two things that are exclusively separate from an automatic car. I’m not going to talk about the synchronizer because I feel like it is in the same context as the gears. A synchronizer makes sure you can switch gears without any grinding. If you have a problem switching gears or hear/feel a grinding noise, it may very well be your synchronizer that needs to be replaces.
The best way to maintain the clutch is to make sure that your driving habits are not prematurely wearing it out. Here are a few examples of bad habits. On a hill, you want to hold yourself still by balancing the clutch and gas as you await a light to change. This is definitely not worth it. If you want to avoid holding the foot brake or rolling back, just use the emergency brake to hold you there for launch.
Gas can also be an issue that may go unnoticed. Too much gas can add a little more friction, meaning more wear on the clutch. The car only needs a little bit of gas and maybe an increase at the right time to get going. Holding onto the clutch too long while giving a lot of gas will add most of the wear to your clutch. Now there’s nothing that you can do about how long you hold the clutch because no matter what, you have to hold it until the car is moving at a certain speed to avoid stalling. What you can do, is decrease the gas to make the wear of you riding that clutch for the short time frame that you are, less damaging.
Now if you’ve successfully managed to preserve your clutch, it’ll last you anywhere between 5-10 years, or even more depending on your location. The best way to tell if you need a new clutch is to test where it catches. If it starts to catch really high, then it’s pretty worn. It’s the same concept as having to step harder on brakes to make stop the car because the material is worn. You can also identify a worn clutch if it begins to “slip”. Meaning if you give it a lot of gas, it will rev the engine, but not move the car, almost as if you’re revving the engine in neutral. A good way to test for slippage is to put the car in a high gear at a low speed and really floor the gas. The car shouldn’t really be going anywhere if you’re at a low speed in high gear. If the engine races, then you definitely need to replace your clutch.
Gears shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The metal that gears are made out of are extremely durable and can withstand a lot of punishment. Most stick shift cars today will last you a lifetime without any problems with your gears. Gears can wear down, also causing slippage, but a worn gear will result in grinding noises when slipping. It’s really not pleasant and needs attention.
Make sure you get into the habit of clutching completely down before switching gears to avoid damaging your gears.
I just had to replace my clutch a few months ago. That’s a pain in the ass for a stick shift driver, but it lasted me about three years. Considering all the lessons I give with it, that’s a pretty good lifespan if you ask me. It ran me about $500 for me 2003 accord. Not bad when you consider the price difference in maintaining a stick shift transmission vs an automatic transmission. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.