The clutch is fundamental to the car – if it is not functioning correctly, the car will fail. Although clutch failure is not a frequent occurrence, when it does happen there are several signs that indicate when the clutch is on its way out.
What Is the Function of the Clutch?
In a basic summary, the function of the clutch is to separate the engine from the wheels of the car, this allows the driver to bring the car to a stop or change gears whilst the car is moving. Once a car engine is switched on, it starts spinning and remains spinning until it is switched off. The wheels also turn but this varies according to the speed, and of course when the car stops, the wheels stop spinning whereas the engine does not until it has been switched off.
How Does the Clutch Work?
Clutch operation begins at the pedal in manual transmission vehicles – the pedal is connected to either a cable or a hydraulic cylinder. The clutch consists of a flywheel, pressure plate and clutch plate - the flywheel connects to the engine and the clutch plate connects to the transmission.
When the foot is off the clutch pedal, the clutch is engaged - springs in the clutch press the pressure plate against the clutch disc, which then presses into the flywheel, locking the engine to the transmission input shaft. This means that the engine and the transmission are connected and spinning at the same speed. When the driver presses their foot down on the clutch pedal, this releases the springs away from the pressure plate, allowing transmission to be interrupted while a gear is changed or while the car is moved to a stationary position.
How Do I Know If There Is a Problem with the Clutch?
There are several warning signs which may indicate that the clutch needs replacement. These include the following:
• Changes to the feel of the clutch pedal - this may include a sticky or spongy pedal, or the pedal may feel excessively loose when pressed upon
• Poor acceleration but with high engine revs are another tell-tale sign
• Difficulty changing gears, they may feel hard or stuck
• A slipping clutch – this may be accompanied by a burning smell
• Unusual sounds – the clutch may make a squeaking or grumbling sound
Looking After Your Clutch
Clutch replacement also varies a lot in terms of price, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. There are also several things which can help to preserve the clutch, these include not riding the clutch - keeping the foot on the clutch pedal partially engaged when decelerating, rough handling of the clutch and towing inappropriately heavy loads for the size of the vehicle.
Clutch Replacement Services
If there is a suspected problem with the performance of the clutch, it is a good idea to have it investigated as soon as possible. Clutch replacement costs vary depending on the make and model of the car and the issue itself.
Longmynd Service Station is an independent garage and an accredited Bosch Car Service Centre – we offer a wide range of car services including clutch replacement. For more information on our services, get in touch today.