Thursday, 28 June 2018

Why is it called a "clutch" pedal?

I inadvertently ended up watching YouTube videos of people teaching a partner or relative how to drive a manual car, and it reminded me how stupid it was to name it a clutch pedal.

You want to accelerate? Press the accelerator. You want to brake? Press the brake. That's easy.

The instructor doesn't need to say "Press the brake!", they just say "Brake!", ditto "Accelerate!".

But what on earth is "clutching"? If anything, the pedal does the exact opposite of that. What it does is "temporarily disconnect the engine from the gearbox so that you can change gears", which is unfortunately a bit of a mouthful and not something the instructor can bark at their student when the car is about to stall.

Any ideas for a better name? Preferable a verb that is also a noun (like 'brake') or a verb that can be turned into a noun by adding an -r at the end (like 'accelerate/r'). It would make teaching/learning to drive so much easier.

Update. The best I can come up with us "release", can be a verb or a noun, when the instructor shouts "Release!" you hit the release (pedal) and it releases the gear box from the engine.

22 comments:

Staffordshire man said...

Clutch, manual gears, gears, petrol. How very 20th century

decnine said...

More evidence that English may have been designed by a committee

Kevin the Chimp said...

Change / Changer pedal would work?!

Pat said...

I think its an abbreviation for de-clutch pedal. Be grateful you don't have to teach how to double de-clutch!

Lola said...

'Clutch' comes from what it does. It 'clutches' the drive. The pedal is the control for the mechanism that connects the drive from the power source to the transmission. And it is not just vehicles that have clutches. So do things like power drills. And windmills.

I have absolutely no problem with the word 'clutch' as it is both descriptive and simple.

Lola said...

Pat. How about 'double de-clutching' whilst 'heel and toeing'? Or teaching someone how to change gear without using the clutch (i.e. de-clutching).

Frank said...

You don't teach somebody how to change gear without using the clutch, you tell them how to do it then, when they are alone in a vehicle belonging to somebody else, they practice.

Well, that's how I learnt. ;-)

Mark Wadsworth said...

Thanks all. Pat, agreed, when you press the pedal you "declutch". So the pedal is named 100% wrong. It's like calling the accelerator the "slow down pedal" because the car slows down when you release it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

KtC, "change" is the best suggestion so far.

Mark Wadsworth said...

... although, it would be confused with "change (gear)"

Woodsy42 said...

I'm backing Lola. The way a standard clutch works is that the vice action of the outer section clutches (ie holds tight) a central disc to transmit the drive. To declutch lets go the disc, so drive disconnects. The clutch pedal controls the clutch mechanism - how much more obvious and clear do you need? NB. a throttle makes the engine go slower but loads of people call the accelerator the throttle.

Mark Wadsworth said...

W42, it "clutches" when you let go. It does the opposite when you press it.

Lola said...

MW et al. It is the 'clutch' control peddle. As the accelerator peddle controls the throttle (sic) and the brake pedal controls the brakes.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, yes, I know the pedal "controls the clutch". But the clutch pedal does not "clutch" in the same way as the brake brakes or the accelerator accelerates.

You might as well say, the brake pedal "controls the pressure in a hydraulic cylinder" so let's rename the brake pedal as the "hydraulic".

Graeme said...

Disconnect?

Mark Wadsworth said...

G, ta, that's on my shortlist.

mombers said...

Clutching is my second favourite double-D theme

Graeme said...

A couple of others - delink and disengage. Not too happy about disengage as it could be ambiguous if, say, you met another car head on in a narrow lane ...

Lola said...

MW.
The brake pedal controls the brake mechanism, hydraulic, mechanical, fly by wire.
The accelerator pedal controls the throttle mechanism, mechanical, fly by wire..
The clutch pedal controls the clutch mechanism, mechanical (linkage or cable), hydraulic, elctro-hydraulic.
I really do not see the problem.

Mark Wadsworth said...

G, those suggestions are heading in the right direction. Thanks.

Graeme said...

Mark it seems as if everyone is missing the point. What would you do if the instructor said, "Clutch?" Why should it be different for one out of the 3 pedals?

Mark Wadsworth said...

G, thanks, Kevin the chimp got it as well.