Both of these clutches are primarily suited for street driving, but a stage 2 clutch is made with more durable materials.
What Are “Stages” in Relation to Tuning?
Before we compare the differences between a stage 1 and stage 2 clutch, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the idea of “stages” in relation to tuning and how each stage modifies a standard car.
There are four stages of tuning that exist; even though we’ll only be going over the difference between a stage 1 and stage 2 clutch later, let’s quickly go over the differences between all four of the stages.
Stage 1 is the entry-level stage of vehicle modifications, and stage 1 upgrades can be fitted to any standard car without the need for any other modifications. Stage 1 upgrades are intended solely for daily driving, and essentially offer the functionality and reliability of OEM parts but in a slightly more performance-oriented package.
Anything that’s a simple bolt-on part can be considered a stage 1 upgrade.
Stage 2 upgrades are still suitable for everyday driving but are significantly more geared towards performance than stage 1 upgrades are. Oftentimes, stage 2 upgrades require supporting modifications to work, so you can’t just install any stage 2 upgrade on a stock vehicle as you can do with stage 1 parts.
As we mentioned, you can still use a car with a stage 2 tuning setup as a daily driver, but you’ll be pushing your car to its limits of daily usability with a tune like this. Being that stage 2 upgrades are much more performance-oriented, you’ll also need to have your car serviced more regularly.
Stage 3 upgrades are the serious stuff. While some stage 3 parts may still work in some daily driver setups, in general, anything in stage 3 is for motorsport use only and shouldn’t be installed in a vehicle that you plan on using every day.
You’ll probably need several existing upgrades to your car before you can even think about installing any stage 3 parts.
Stage 4 upgrades are the highest-end upgrades available in many cases and are intended purely for racing applications. You’ll need a fully-built car beforehand to even consider installing stage 4 upgrades.
In the case of clutches, in particular, stage 4 clutches are a significant step up over the other three stages because they usually use an unsprung clutch disc, which is, of course, great for racing but makes for an uncomfortable daily driving experience.
Stage 1 vs. Stage 2 Clutch Comparison
We know that stage 1 and stage 2 clutches are both built for daily driving and that stage 2 clutches are more focused on performance, but what’s the actual, physical difference between these two clutches?
In truth, the specific differences between stage 1 and stage 2 clutches depend largely on the manufacturer of the part. For example, one clutch manufacturer might produce a stage 1 clutch that is more or less the same as a competitor’s stage 2 clutch.
In general, stage 2 clutches are simply made with stronger materials than stage 1 clutches, and occasionally the design of some of the clutch components may vary as well (a stage 2 clutch might have a puck plate while a stage 1 clutch might have a full-face plate).
If the question you’re asking is “which stage is better for a good tune?” then it depends on what you want to get out of the tune. If you’re looking for something that performs a little better than your current clutch but doesn’t compromise on the smoothness of the engagement or make the clutch feel stiffer than normal, a stage 1 clutch is usually better for this purpose.
If you still intend to drive your car mostly on the street but you want even more performance and don’t mind compromising slightly on your car’s daily usability, then you might want to consider using a stage 2 clutch. For any car you want to drive on the street, however, it’s never really a good idea to go beyond a stage 2 tune.
In addition, some cars seem to do better when using certain brands of parts, so we’d recommend doing some extra research to find out what company makes the best parts for the specific car you have.
Stage 2 clutches perform better than stage 1 clutches, but a stage 2 clutch isn’t always the right choice for your tuning setup.
If you want to help your car perform better but retain as much of the OEM clutch feel as possible, stage 1 parts are often the way to go. We’d only advise you to go for a stage 2 clutch if you need that extra bit of performance.