Of course, if you know how to drive a manual car, you know how to operate a clutch. However, do you understand how a clutch works? It wouldn’t hurt for you to get to know a little about how your clutch operates. In this way, you can identify the early warning signs that tell you to get your car serviced at European Prestige Auto Service. When problems are addressed early on, you prevent them from growing into something bigger that then requires costly repairs.
Understanding how a Clutch Operates
What a clutch does, is separate the engine from the wheels, allowing the driver to change gears and come to a complete halt whilst keeping the engine running without stalling. There are three components in a clutch—the clutch plate, pressure plate and flywheel. When you remove your foot off the pedal, the springs in the clutch press these three parts together. Such mechanisms connect and spins the engine and the transmission at the same speed. When the clutch is disengaged, the springs pull the pressure off the plate. This allows the flywheel and pressure plate to spin at a different rate, allowing you to change gears without any hassle.
What is the Lifespan of a Clutch
There are many factors that determine how long your clutch will last. In general, clutches are designed to function properly for up to 100,000 miles or more. However, this depends on the quality of your vehicle, your driving style and how well you maintain it. For instance, if you are doing a lot of stop-start driving in the city, your clutch will wear out sooner since you’re more frequently shifting between lower gears.
How to Tell if There’s Something Wrong with your Clutch
Eventually, your clutch will wear out and you will need to have it repaired or replaced. Here are some ways you can know if there’s something wrong with your clutch:
- Observe your clutch’s behaviour
A clutch or pressure plate’s system gradually wears out over time. However, you will start to notice that their performance becomes noticeably diminished. You must pay attention to how it engages. You should know how to detect when you have a slipping clutch. Here are some signs you should watch out for:
- Check if the engine speed changes with no noticeable acceleration. Try revving your engine and see if the car hesitates before it starts to accelerate. If this is the case, then it means your clutch is not delivering the boost in RPM through the transmission to the drive wheels.
- When the clutch starts to engage, check if the clutch pedal height changes.
- Observe whether the engine power changes when you’re pulling a load. If there’s slippage in the clutch, the amount of power delivered to the drive wheels get reduced.
- Check under the hood for burning smell
When a burning smell comes from under the hood, it may mean that there’s an oil leak or issues with electric wiring. Both problems can be serious, but they have nothing to do with your clutch. However, burning smell from under the hood can be a sign of a slipping clutch. It is best to have this issue checked by our qualified mechanics to identify the exact problem.
- Push your Foot Against the Clutch Pedal
If you notice that even little pedal movements can disengage the clutch, it may mean that you need a clutch repair or replacement. Before the clutch begins to engage, there should be free movement of about an inch or two in the pedal. If you notice that it disengages sooner, then it means that when your pedal is depressed, your clutch is not riding.
- Check if you Have Enough Clutch Fluid
When you check near the brake master cylinder, you will find the clutch fluid reservoir. Make sure the level is between the minimum and maximum fill lines. If the fluid is below minimum, it will need to be topped up with the specified clutch fluid.
Common Mistakes Done When Using a Clutch
No matter how many improvements car makers do to clutches, drivers still prematurely wear them out. However, there are some tips you can follow to ensure that your clutch will have a longer lifespan. If you take these lessons to heart, you will be able to make the most out of your clutch. Here are some things you should avoid when using your clutch:
Resting your Foot on the Clutch
A lot of drivers are not aware that they’re resting their foot on the clutch. Even seasoned drivers do this, especially in heavy traffic. Keep in mind that when the clutch is not all the way out, you are giving it unnecessary wear. It is alright to engage the clutch pedal smoothly. When you minimise the time you spend engaging and disengaging the pedal, you are ensuring that the clutch will have a longer lifespan.
Some drivers tend to shift before the clutch is fully disengaged. Others let the pedal out without being fully in gear. These can easily wear out the clutch. Another horrible way to shift is to jam gears without pushing your foot down on the clutch. It is worth noting that such driving behaviour can lead to a costly clutch repair. A reconditioned gearbox won’t be enough to balance out such driving activities.
You can also cause premature clutch wear and/or failure when you do not complete your shifts before engaging the clutch. Doing so bangs the damper springs to their limit, causing inconsistencies and heat that may warp the disc. Eventually, it will become more difficult for the clutch to catch. This is because the disc has worn out, has been warped or has been jammed by the damper springs’ broken pieces.
If you notice any of the warning signs mentioned in this article, make sure you bring your car to European Prestige Auto Service. We will be able to determine whether you need a clutch repair or clutch replacement. Trust that our experienced mechanics will be able to identify the issue exactly and resolve it.