Clutch maintenance and repair can go hand in hand with transmission maintenance and repair, but it would be unfair to suggest that one demands the other. As much as a vehicle’s clutch works so closely with the larger transmission, it is its own entity with its own maintenance requirements. Without your clutch functioning optimally, your vehicle will not be able to change gears properly and may potentially not even be able to drive at all.
A clutch is only a component on vehicles with a manual transmission. Vehicles with an automatic transmission have a torque converter that automatically does the work of a clutch using sensors that detect the speed of the vehicle. The clutch on a vehicle with a manual transmission operates in the same way a multi-geared pedal bike works when trying to change gears. On a pedal bike, the chain is temporarily removed from one gear and moves to another on the cassette.
On a vehicle with a manual transmission, the clutch pedal is pushed in to temporarily disconnect the engine from the wheels. The gear shifter is then used to change to a new appropriate gear. The clutch is then released in order for the engine and wheels to sync up again.
The clutch is made up of several of its own components that vary slightly depending on the make and model of the vehicle. The components of the clutch include the following.
- Release mechanism
- Clutch disc
- Pressure plate
- Release bearing
- Pilot bearing
- Clutch fork
A clutch can last anywhere from 80,000 to 160,000 kilometers depending on how it is used. Clutches can wear out sooner if a driver “rides the clutch” which means holding the pedal down for an extended period while attempting to change gears or while slowing down.
Here are some common signs that your clutch may be needing some service or repair.
- squeaking or unusual rumbling noise when pressure is applied to the clutch
- difficulty changing from one gear to another
- the clutch pedal sticks or vibrates
- the clutch pedal feels spongy or loose
- momentary loss of acceleration due to a sense of the clutch “slipping”
The lifespan of a clutch can be maximized by avoiding harsh starts from a standstill. Age of a vehicle and how often you maintain your vehicle are additional factors.
Clutch repair is not a small job and it’s best left to professional certified mechanics. Clutch repairs often involve removing and replacing the three primary components within a clutch system: the clutch plate, the pressure plate and the flywheel.
JW Auto Centers have licensed mechanics available to help you diagnose and repair any issue you might have with your clutch. Anytime you detect something that doesn’t seem normal, don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can help you out.