Discover why clutch problems are one of the most common issues to effect cars and how there are a huge range of specific complications to consider when repairing or replacing a clutch.
What is a clutch on a car?
The clutch is quite literally the driving force of your car. Its job is to engage the engine which then turns the wheel and away you go. The general rule of thumb is that your clutch will last approximately 60,000 miles but this figure can vary widely depending on how you drive together with where you live.
What does a car clutch do?
In manual transmission vehicles, in order for there to be a smooth gear change, the engine power flow to the transmission has to be discontinued. However, it’s not practical to have to switch off the engine just to change gears - this is where the clutch comes in to help.
Every time you press your clutch pedal, the clutch temporarily disconnects the flow of power to the engine, allowing you to make a smooth gear change without turning the engine off.
In automatic transmission vehicles, the gearbox selects the correct gear for the car based on the speed the driver is travelling. Because of this, there isn’t any need for a clutch pedal or a gear stick, and the driver doesn’t need to do anything for the correct gear to be chosen.
How does a car clutch work?
The modern clutch comprises of four main components:
The flywheel - This component is connected to the engines crankshaft and enables the engine to be able to turn in motion
The pressure plate - This component is bolted to the flywheel and holds the clutch assembly together allowing it to rotate
The clutch disc - Between the flywheel and the pressure plate, the clutch disc has a smooth surface and allows for smooth engagement
The throw-out bearing and release system - These parts work together allowing the engaging and disengaging process to occur
A clutch works with two rotating shafts. When the clutch pedal is pressed down by the driver, the diaphragm spring at the centre of the pressure plate (the component found in between the flywheel and the clutch plate) disengages the connection between the transmission and the wheels. This prevents the transfer of power from the vehicle’s engine to the vehicle’s wheels, which is when the driver is able to change gears.
How can you tell if your clutch needs repairing?
There are a huge variety of problems that can occur with a clutch and there are a number of symptoms that you should look out for which should point towards certain issues.
My clutch is slipping
Slipping is one of the most common clutch issues and can cause a drop in performance, as well as damage, if not diagnosed in time.
Watch out for;
Your car is struggling to move forward at a low speed in a high gear.
Your car is finding it difficult to get up hills in a high gear.
Your car is not able to accelerate effectively or tow a trailer.
My clutch is making a noise or a chatter
Chattering occurs when the clutch is being used and a grabbing or jerking can be felt in the vehicle.
This problem may be caused by the following internal clutch issues;
A warped or grooved flywheel
Missing flywheel dowel pins
A worn pilot bearing/bushing
A worn bearing retainer
Bent or broken drive straps
A bent or distorted clutch disc
A loose clutch cover
Clutch linings becoming covered in oil grease or getting burned or glazed
My clutch is growling or making squealing noises
If you are hearing strange noises like growls or squeals, this can be another sign of a problem with a clutch, as vibrations within the part could cause such sounds.
If you hear any strange noises coming from your car, have it checked out immediately as a fault with your clutch could cause serious danger while you are driving.
I’ve noticed a burning smell
If you begin to notice a burning smell coming from the cabin, it could be a sign that your clutch is overheating and causing the clutch plate to be worn down.
This can often be caused by riding the clutch, and oftentimes stop-start driving in slow-moving traffic can make this problem worse.
My car is struggling to shift gears
If your car is struggling to shift gears, it could be an indication that your clutch is worn. When this happens, you might also notice a grinding noise when attempting to change gears.
How can you tell if your clutch needs to be replaced?
Any one of the common symptoms listed above could be an indicator that it’s time for a clutch replacement on your car, rather than a repair.
If you’re unsure exactly what is causing these noises, it’s always recommended to get a diagnostic test carried out on your vehicle. This way, you can rule out any other issues with your vehicle and be sure whether it’s your clutch causing the problems.
How much will a clutch repair cost?
The average quote for clutch repair is £619.90 when booked with WhoCanFixMyCar. You can find the average cost per manufacturer below.
|Average Cost of Clutch Repair by Manufacturer|
How much will a clutch replacement cost?
The average quote for clutch replacement is £624.94 when booked with WhoCanFixMyCar. You can find the average cost per manufacturer below.
|Car Make||Average Price|
How long does clutch repair take?
On average, you can expect a clutch repair to take anywhere between two to six hours. However, the exact length of time to complete the repair will depend entirely on how badly damaged the part is.
Do they check the clutch on an MOT?
The reason for this is essentially that in the event of sudden failure of the engine, or a sudden inability to change gears, you’re still able to apply the brakes and pull over, so the chance of causing an accident is unlikely.
With the lifespan of a clutch generally lasting to around 60,000 miles, it’s worth looking into a clutch replacement around this marker. You can read more about the lifespan of a clutch here in our blog post about how long a car clutch lasts.
Do they check the clutch during a service?
Yes - the clutch is just one of the many components that will be checked during your car service, and this applies to both a full service and an interim service. During a car service, the clutch system and gearbox will be checked, along with any required fluid top ups.
What can I do to extend the life of my clutch?
You can extend the life of your clutch by avoiding common poor driving practices including:
Riding the clutch - this causes unnecessary wear
Overloading the car - this adds more strain to your clutch
Downshifting each time you need to slow down - this also adds more strain to your clutch
How can I test the clutch on a used car?
There is a simple test you can do to test the clutch is in good working condition on a used car, particularly important if you’re looking to purchase it.
While the engine is off, press down the clutch pedal as far as it will go before releasing it. If your clutch is in good condition, the pedal should spring back and you should be able to feel some resistance as you try and press down on it again.
If you notice that the clutch pedal gets stuck, judders, or feels spongy, it could be an indication that the clutch is worn out.
Other Popular Questions About Clutches
What is a dual clutch?
A dual clutch transmission is a type of Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) which uses two separate clutches to shift between odd and even gears. With a dual clutch, the transmission uses two clutches as a way of ‘preloading’ the next gear before shifting gears.
An Automated Manual Transmission is essentially exactly what it says on the tin - this transmission type allows the driver the choice between choosing whether they want to control the gear shifting, or leave it to the vehicle’s internal computer to select the appropriate gears for them.
What is double clutching?
Double clutching refers to when a driver presses the clutch pedal as they take the car out of gear, to then release it and press it again to slot it into the next gear.
Double clutching essentially means to use the clutch pedal twice during a single shift in gears. In modern vehicles, there’s generally no need to double clutch, with double clutching being a common requirement in older cars, and some race cars still requiring this method.
How to double clutch
Let's assume you’re driving along in fifth gear, and want to move down a gear to fourth.
Press the clutch pedal
Move the gear from fifth gear into neutral
Release the clutch pedal
Press the throttle gently to increase the engines revs slightly
Press the clutch pedal again, move the gear stick into fourth and finally release the clutch pedal
What does a high clutch mean?
The ‘biting point’ is the level at which your vehicle’s clutch stops before removing your foot from the pedal.
A ‘high clutch’, also known as a ‘high clutch biting point’, refers to the point at which the clutch is engaged enough for the vehicle to transmit power, but not enough for the vehicle to move yet.
As the clutch disc begins to wear out, the ‘biting point’ becomes higher. If your clutch has a high biting point, it may be an indication that it has become worn out and may need to be replaced soon.
Can you adjust a clutch biting point?
A high clutch biting point may be a sign of a worn out clutch, however, it could also be that the clutch simply needs to be readjusted back into the correct position.
Every car has a slightly different biting point, and while the biting point can be adjusted to an extent if it has been wrongly set or moved out of place, this shouldn’t be performed instead of a clutch replacement when the component is worn.
Is my clutch about to break?
If your car is displaying any of the signs we have told you about, it is essential that you move to tackle the problem as soon as possible. The longer you ignore an issue, the worse it will get, fact.
Fortunately, you can do something right now which could help you save future costs. Simply click on the button below to compare prices are garages in your local area.
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