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Clutch Replacement Time: Making the Call by Relying on Your Automotive Training

Published on February 1, 2018 by in Blog

automotive training

Regardless of where you stand in the manual versus automatic transmission divide, if you work in the automotive industry, you need to know how to care for a three-pedaled car. The extra pedal in a vehicle with a stick shift serves a very important purpose, and that is to operate the clutch. Being a serviceable item, the clutch does break down from time to time.

Car mechanics know that unpleasant car difficulties can arise when a clutch has gone awry, and they also know that it can be tricky to identify if a problem really does have to do with a bad clutch or not. Since changing out a clutch or any of its components requires removing a car’s entire gearbox, a process which can be expensive and time-consuming, it’s good to be sure you’re making the right call when deciding if a replacement is needed. But why is having a clutch in top shape so important and how can you tell when it might be time to trade it in for a new one? Keep reading to find out!

Understanding How a Clutch Works Is Key to Demystifying the Problems it Can Cause

Having a functional clutch is important because it consists of components that affect the transmission of power from a car’s engine to its gearbox and hence its wheels, essentially contributing to a car’s forward (or backward) motion. But it has an even more important function! Yes, there is something more important than being able to move forward in your car, and that’s being able to accelerate. After all, how much use would cars be if they couldn’t go faster than 10 kilometers per hour? Though you can actually drive at a fast speed at a lower-than-optimal gear, it puts unnecessary strain on your engine, and that’s where shifting to a higher gear comes in.

When it’s time to shift gears and increase speed, the flow of power between a car’s engine and its transmission needs to be temporarily severed so that the gears can change. This is what happens when you press your foot down on the clutch pedal. The whole process works thanks to a sophisticated feat of engineering involving a number of parts, and all professionals with automotive training know that more parts equals more possibilities for car trouble.

Pros with Automotive Training Know Clutch Slip Is a Common Defunct Clutch Problem

One of the components that can cause problems is the clutch disc—a metal trimmed with friction material so that it grips to the parts surrounding it. Loosening this grip with the aid of a pressure plate controlled by the clutch pedal is what interrupts power flow from the engine to allow for a gear change. Over time, however, the friction material on a clutch disc can wear out, leading to clutch slip.

The friction material on a clutch disk can wear out, leading to clutch slip

The friction material on a clutch disk can wear out, leading to clutch slip

How can you tell if you have a situation of clutch slip on your hands? There are several ways to tell. For example, if a client doesn’t need to press too hard on the clutch pedal for it to disengage, it might be a sign that their clutch is worn down. Another big indicator of clutch problems is if a car needs more RPM than usual to reach desired speeds. In this situation, the extra energy the engine is pumping forth is not being delivered to the wheels. This makes driving ineffective, so a clutch slip always warrants replacement.

Clutches Are Complex, as Is the Array of Malfunctions That Can Accompany Them

Besides clutch slip, there are yet more clutch troubles that can plague the driver of a car with a stick shift. One of these is clutch judder where something, usually oil or hydraulic fluid, may be interfering with the clutch’s ability to grip properly, causing it to judder as it tries to grip and slips again. You could also encounter dragging clutch, where the clutch disc remains stuck, which means that the flow of energy to the transmission doesn’t get interrupted when you press on the clutch pedal, and an unpleasant grinding noise is produced when you attempt to shift gears.

Because a clutch is made up of so many parts, problems affecting it can be ever varied, stemming from the clutch disc or from much smaller components like pilot bearings or springs. If you’ve got a car on your hands that is emitting strange sounds from the gearbox, emitting strong smells from the engine bay, or being finicky when you’re attempting to shift into reverse, chances are there may be a problem with the clutch.

Trouble shifting into reverse could signify a problem with a car's clutch

Trouble shifting into reverse could signify a problem with a car’s clutch

Being sure if the source of these problems is a faulty clutch can be difficult, but professionals with car mechanic training under their belts know how to identify if the culprit is the clutch. And then, equipped with a brand new clutch, that stick shift will be ready to delve into some high quality drifting action!

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