Both system dynamics simulation and numerical analysis have been conducted to study the effect of different automotive starting modes on the clutch thermo-mechanical coupling characteristics. Based on the six-degree-of-freedom dynamic model of the automotive driveline, the system dynamic responses were obtained under four different starting modes that are determined by the changes of pressure between the friction plate and pressure plate. According to the results of dynamic responses, the transient thermal analysis and thermo-mechanical coupling analysis of the clutch friction pair were performed using the finite element method assuming that the car is driving on the congested roads. The results show that as the starting time increases, the thermal-mechanical coupling characteristics of the clutch become sever, as the temperature and stress levels of the friction pair show a trend of slow and then rapid rise. Therefore, taking into account the requirements of both well starting riding comfort and clutch working conditions, it is recommended that the driver controls the starting time within a certain range when operating the clutch pedal.