Know if a Car Needs a New Clutch
All vehicles with a manual transmission will have a friction clutch between the engine and gearbox, allowing the driver to pull away from a standstill and change gears. Clutches are hard wearing, but do need periodic replacement as the clutch wears down.
- Identify the symptoms of a worn clutch. Usually this is characterised by the clutch slipping as you apply power — the engine speed will increase greatly when you try to accelerate, even though the clutch pedal is not pressed. Under normal driving, a healthy clutch will 'lock' the engine to the transmission, so its speed should be directly linked to changes in the vehicle speed.
- Make sure the clutch itself is at fault. If your vehicle has a hydraulically-operated clutch, eliminate air in the system by bleeding the hydraulic circuit, as you would with the braking system. A cable-operated clutch could be suffering from a seized or jammed cable, preventing the clutch from taking the full torque from the engine.
- Have the clutch replaced as soon as possible. Clutch replacement is an involved job, requiring removal of the transmission to access the clutch. Unless you are an experienced home mechanic, book your car into a garage to have the work done.
- Don't drive the car with a worn clutch. Fuel economy and available power will be reduced, and the clutch could fail completely at any time, leaving you stranded by the roadside.
- A sure fire way to know your clutch is worn out, select 3rd or 4th gear at around 30Mph/55Kph with the clutch engaged, and open the throttle wide (hit the gas). If your engine starts revving at high RPM and vehicle is not picking up speed, the clutch plate is worn out. The engine revs over because the clutch does not have enough contact with the flywheel, causing slip.
- Clutch replacement is time-consuming, involving removal of the transmission. While on a rear-wheel-drive vehicle this may be relatively simple, on a front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle the task is more difficult. Because of this, it's good practice to change the clutch whenever the gearbox is removed from the vehicle. This can save time and money in the long run, especially if you are having a garage do the work.
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