While many people know how to drive a manual car, surprisingly, most of them don’t understand how a clutch really works. Of course, many people leave that up to the mechanic, but it helps to understand what signs to watch out for and also, how to know when you need a clutch replacement or repair.
Having your vehicle serviced regularly will typically help manual drivers avoid most problems with the clutch. However, knowing how the clutch operates and when to have your vehicle serviced is important, too because it allows you to address the problem right away before the damage becomes more severe and considerably more costly.
How Does the Clutch Work?
The gearbox has two rotating shafts — one that drives the motor and another that powers a separate device. The clutch is the connector between the two shafts, which enables them to spin at the same time, together. In addition, the clutch also decouples the two shafts, which enables them to spin at different speeds.
In a vehicle, the clutch is what is used to regulate the power to the engine and to control the transfer of power from the vehicle’s engine to both the transmission and the wheels. Essentially, the faster the engine goes, the more adjustment is required before the clutch connects to the wheels, which allows your vehicle to switch to a different gear.
This is a simple explanation of what happens whenever you change gears. Regardless of whether you drive an automatic or manual, the principle is basically the same.
How to Know if You Need Clutch Replacement
Therefore, the clutch is a vital component to the smooth operation of your vehicle. Here are three warning signs that you need clutch replacement:
Burning Smell or Smoke — The vehicle will emit a burning smell (similar to burning rubber or an electrical fire) and sometimes, can be accompanied by smoke coming from underneath the vehicle.
What it means: Damage to the clutch caused by overheating and wear and tear on the clutch plate.
Cause: This problem is caused by riding the clutch, especially in slow-moving traffic.
Slipping out of Gear — The vehicle slips completely out of gear (for no apparent reason) or has jerky operation.
What it means: Gear slippage happens, especially when it is under heavy load.
Cause: The clutch is worn and needs to be replaced OR there is an oil leak from the crankshaft to the clutch plate that may need attention.
Clutch Sticking – The pedals will become harder to press or disengage.
What it means: This may not necessarily indicate clutch failure, but the leak still needs to be repaired.
Cause: The hydraulic linkages have failed, which causes a loss of pressure.
While is not a comprehensive list, it helps to be able to identify the warning signs so that you will know when to take your vehicle to the repair shop for clutch replacement or repair. Find a technician or repair shop that is certified, and has the ability and the expertise to repair your vehicle.