Can you drive your car with a slipping clutch? | AutoGuru
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Can you drive a car with a busted clutch?

Jason Unrau

Updated 11 Oct 2019

Jason Unrau

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Car problems can happen at any time including a busted or worn out clutch.

Hey, maybe you ignored the symptoms a little too long, but it doesn’t help to dwell on it now.

Obviously, you have to get it fixed sooner or later. In the meantime, you have a hectic life to live.

There’s work, kid’s football practice, and you have a dinner date with your friend’s mate.

Can you keep driving your car like it is or do you need to deal with your car before you carry on with life?

For a clutch problem, it depends on the severity.

In some cases, you can limp along for a while before your clutch blows up completely.

In other cases, there’s no way you can drive even around the block.


Can you drive your car with a slipping clutch?

It’s a tricky question to answer because there are varying degrees of what you’d call ‘slipping’.

Commonly, a clutch starts slipping in first gear on acceleration, often under moderate to hard acceleration.

That’s when the clutch disc can’t sustain the engine torque in low gear, but in high gear or on light acceleration, it’s fine.

You can make it hours, days, or even weeks sometimes when your clutch just starts slipping.

But if your car’s clutch begins to slip when you’re driving in higher gears – say, gear three and up – it’s not long until it’s going to leave you stranded.

It doesn’t have enough staying power from the friction material to get you very far. Don’t chance it. Get it fixed now.


One of the most common problems with driving a car with a manual transmission is grinding the gears.

But did you know that the driver isn’t always to blame?

It could be that the pressure plate, thrust bearing, or clutch release mechanism aren’t fully releasing, causing the clutch disc to remain engaged with the flywheel.

When that happens, the transmission input shaft keeps spinning – too fast to allow for the shifter to engage the gear quickly and noiselessly.

If you are grinding gears occasionally when you shift, make an appointment to get it fixed at your convenience.

But after you’ve avoided the repair long enough and you can barely pull the shifter into gear with both hands, park your car until you get it fixed.


Several problems can cause the transmission not to engage into gear at all.

It could be a busted clutch disc, failed thrust/throw-out bearing, leaking slave cylinder or master cylinder, or even broken fingers on the pressure plate.

Here’s the thing: if you can’t engage into gear, you won’t be driving your car anywhere. Your clutch is busted.

At best, you can pretend to drive like a child does, making silly ‘VROOM’ sounds with your mouth.

In all seriousness, driving a car that you know has clutch problems isn’t a great idea.

There’s no telling how long it’s going to last.

If your clutch completely fails while you’re driving in traffic, you could put yourself and others in danger.

If you’re having problems with your clutch, it’s strongly recommended to get booked in with a qualified mechanic.

You can use AutoGuru to easily search, compare and book high quality, local mechanics online!

Jason Unrau

Written By

Jason Unrau

Jason is a Canadian automotive content writer with a background in the auto service industry, but he’s been hooked on cars and mechanics since childhood.

One of his first cars was an ’80 Mazda RX-7 that’s sorely missed to this day. A ’68 Ford Torino GT, a ’66 Ford Country Squire Woodie station wagon, and a ’96 Suzuki GSX-R 750 have spent time in his fleet of cars, bikes, and trucks over the past two decades.

Jason’s pride and joy is under construction – a turbocharged ’88 Mazda RX-7 convertible. Also on his resume is CASCAR official certification.