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A clutch enables drivers to change gear. In a car, you need a clutch because the engine spins all the time, but the cars wheels do not. In order for a car to stop without killing the engine, the wheels need to be disconnected from the engine somehow. The clutch allows us to smoothly engage a spinning engine to a non-spinning transmission by controlling the slippage between them.
In a manual transmission car, the clutch is operated by the left-most pedal using either hydraulics or a cable connection from the pedal to the clutch mechanism. When the clutch pedal has no pressure, the clutch plates are engaged (driving). Pressing the clutch pedal disengages the clutch plates, allowing the driver to shift gears or coast.