What does a vehicle's Clutch do?

What is a clutch?

Your clutch is one of the most vital and frequently used components of your car so keeping it in optimal condition is important. Neglection can cost you your life. 

A clutch consists mainly of two metal plates in the engine. Stepping on the clutch pedal disengages these plates from your rotating wheels, which allows you to change gears. Stepping off the clutch pedal creates pressure to operate the hydraulic mechanism, which transmits motion to the wheels. When one or more of these parts are not in optimal condition, it may require a service or replacement.

Clutch repair and replacement

There is a component in your clutch system called the flywheel, and it is common for a lot of clutch repair or replacement issues to be related to it. When it’s cracked or burned, it is normally due to excessive overheating because of slipping or grease contamination. Resting your foot on the clutch pedal also wears out your clutch. Another common problem when it comes to clutch repairs is broken torsion springs, which can be caused by hard driving, or driving at low speed while the engine revs in high gear. 

Signs your vehicle's clutch need a service

  • Noisy clutch - Although a noisy clutch may mean many things its important not to ride the clutch (constantly push the pedal in) because it could lead to a bad pilot bearing. This is identified when the clutch makes a high-pitched sound. 

  • Slipping clutch - When a clutch plate is soaked in engine oil the clutch will slip. To test this out you need to release the clutch slowly whilst in gear. If the car stalls, you are good to go. If the car does not stall you should immediately get it checked out at a professional auto specialist. 

  • Dragging clutch - Causes range from problems with air in the system, high levels of lubrication and oil present or even small fractions of fluid or oil. You can detect this issue if the pedal fails to release.

  • Short Lasting Clutch - Although one of the most used components in a car, a clutch should last a long time. Bad driving habits however like riding to much on the clutch, causes your cars clutch to have a shorter lifespan thus requiring replacement.  Clutches that are well maintained and cared for can last up to 130 000 km but an abused clutch can start to fail after a mere 50 000 km.

Signs your vehicle's clutch need to be replaced

  • Clutch slip - This happens when your clutch is engaging and disengaging and no power is delivered to the wheels and as a result, the car will not move forward. Symptoms of a slipping clutch can easily be identified. Firstly, the easiest way to identify this is by taking the car on a drive. If there is a burning smell when the acceleration pedal is applied, this is a good indication that the clutch is slipping. Another symptom to look out for is high revs. This will be noticeable when taking off from a stationary position, the engine will rev highly and the tachometer (beside the speedometer) will show a very high reading and the speed will remain low. The final way to tell if your clutch is slipping is to go out on a stretch of road and start to build up speed in a high gear (4th, 5th or 6th) accelerate hard and watch the tachometer reach a high reading but the speedometer won’t really move, this is because the clutch is disengaging and usually the two meters move in sync, if they are not moving together it’s a sign that the clutch will need to be repaired or replaced.

  • Clutch judder - Clutch judder is most noticeable when setting off from a standstill. It manifests itself as a strong vibration clutch from the engine/transmission when you release the clutch to get the car moving. It is usually something like oil or hydraulic fluid that has somehow found its way on to the surface of the clutch itself and causing it to not grip properly or smoothly when engaging, causing the juddering effect as it grips in part, then slips, then grips again and so on.  It can also be caused by misalignment of the clutch or the flywheel being slightly warped or just being plain worn out or glazed to the point it’s not getting consistent grip.
  • Worn release bearings and dual mass flywheels - If you can hear a low rumbling sound coming from the gearbox that goes away when you press the clutch pedal, then it’s possible you have an issue with either the release bearing or the dual mass flywheel (if your car has one).

  • Clutch sticking - Other issues that you might encounter have sometimes nothing to do with the clutch itself. Sometimes the problem is not with slipping, but with sticking. If your clutch won’t release properly, it will continue to turn the input shaft. This can cause grinding or may completely prevent your car from going into gear. Common reasons the clutch may stick include a broken or stretched clutch cable (the cable needs the right amount of tension to push and pull effectively), leaky or defective slave and/or master clutch cylinders (leaks keep the cylinders from building the necessary amount of pressure), air in the hydraulic line (air affects the hydraulics by taking up space the fluid needs to build pressure) and maladjusted linkage (when your foot hits the pedal, the linkage transmits the wrong amount of force).

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Posted on Sep 22, 2020 by Auto Repair Directory

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