Problems With Your Clutch? – Learn To Recognise & Check Them
A clutch connects the engine and the gearbox in cars with a manual transmission, resulting in the wheels being able to turn. If there is an issue with the clutch and it is slipping, then the car is unable to be driven. There are other issues that can occur with the clutch, such as the bearings, hydraulics and more. In this article, you will learn about potential faults with the clutch, how to recognise them, and the potential cost of fixing them.
The Clutch – What Is It?
A clutch, in mechanical terms, is a device which transfers power from a source to either a drivetrain or transmission. In a car, it connects the gearbox to the engine, allowing the car to drive. It is built with a few different parts, and each car tends to have a different build-up. The ‘pressure plate’, ‘friction plate’ and ‘flywheel’ are in all manual transmission cars.
Related Reading: Why Is My Car Making A Noise?
What Is The Durability Of The Clutch?
Typically, if your car is driven sensibly and is well maintained, the clutch will last upwards of 80,000 miles.
Common Faults With The Clutch System
Clutches are complex systems, so there are a few different ways in which they can fail.
Clutch Plate – Worn Out Or Slipping
A friction surface is integral to any clutch system. It is forced against the flywheel of the engine to transfer power to the drivetrain. If it becomes worn out, it will not grip to the flywheel correctly and will slip.
- No acceleration, especially on hills, when you increase your engine RPM
- A very high biting point
- Difficulty selecting gears
- Crunching or jolting when selecting gears
When To Get It Fixed
Depending on what your driving style is, the symptoms of a worn clutch can become quite obvious long before it actually needs replacing. If you are becoming aware of your clutch slipping in common use, such as accelerating on a relatively flat surface, then you need to get it replaced.
A high clutch pedal can often be a signal that it is beginning to wear out, but in some cars, it can mean it just needs adjusting. If you are experiencing either of these symptoms it is best to get your car checked out at an authorised garage. If left for too long, the bolts within the clutch plate can begin to rub against the flywheel, resulting in the flywheel needing to be replaced too, potentially doubling the cost of repair.
Clutch Throwout Bearing
When the clutch plate is spinning it needs to be pressed against the flywheel, a bearing is used on the end of a lever. The lever is commonly referred to as a clutch fork, with the bearing being called a ‘throwout bearing’. Bearings always wear out, though poor driving styles can increase the rate at which this happens.
You will be able to tell if it is heading towards needing to be replaced as the surface looks worn, and a noise will occur when spinning. The throwout bearing is the same, although it will only make a noise when the clutch pedal is pressed down.
- When pressing the clutch pedal you hear a scraping or whining noise
- Silence when the clutch is engaged (no pressure on the pedal)
- Vibration coming through the clutch pedal
When To Get It Fixed
You can expect to be paying between £300 and £600 to get a replacement clutch bearing. It is often worth getting the clutch plate replaced at the same time, even if it isn’t quite at the wear level requiring replacement. This is because the bulk of the cost in either replacement is for the labour of removing the gearbox, so in the long term you will be saving money.
Clutch Master Cylinder Fault
To operate the clutch fork and disengage the clutch plate from the flywheel requires a lot of force. So that the force isn’t required fully from the operator (yourself), a hydraulic system is used.
The clutch pedal is attached to a master cylinder, which operates the slave cylinder by creating pressure in the oil lines. There are many seals in the master and slave cylinders to ensure the hydraulic system can work efficiently. These seals need to be able to withstand high-pressure oils. If any of these components fail the clutch will not be operational.
- Light or heavy clutch pedal
- Ineffective clutch pedal
- The car leaking oil from underneath
- Low hydraulic oil level
- The clutch pedal sticking
When To Get It Fixed
The signals of a bad master or slave cylinder can come at you suddenly, and not give much notice. This means that it is crucial you get any issues looked into as soon as you can, as if you don’t, they can quickly leave your car unable to move.
Clutch Rattles & Juddering
There aren’t many components inside the clutch system which can cause a rattling-like sound, from a loose clutch fork to the main clutch bearing. Without removing the entire gearbox to inspect, they are quite hard to diagnose. In some instances, the sound can be caused by a dual mass flywheel (DMF) fault, which is more commonly found in diesel cars.
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Related Reading: What Damage Can Potholes Cause To Your Car?
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