For manual vehicles it is the clutch that is among the primary system and is one that drivers aren’t likely to be told that there are problems with. As with many other vehicle parts, clutches have some life expectancy, typically in the vicinity of the mileage they have. How can you tell warning signs of a failed clutch before it occurs?
What is the function of the clutch?
To comprehend how the importance of the clutch becomes so important, it’s worth reminding ourselves what exactly is it that the clutch does. It is the device that separates the engine from the wheels. This allows you to shift gears and coming to a complete stop even when the engine is operating.
There are three major components in the clutch system – the clutch plate, flywheel, and the pressure plate. When the clutch is on with your foot not on the pedal that are inside the clutch force the three components together, ensuring that the engine and transmission are both running at the same speed. When you push your foot on the pedal, spring pulls the pressure plate away from the clutch plate, so that both the flywheel as well as the pressure plate rotate at different speeds – this allows you to change the gears.
How long will a clutch last?
The life span of a clutch can be a question that is difficult to answer. There are many factors that influence how long it will last but generally they are designed to last 50,000 to 100,000 miles. Most often, they last better than this if there is regular maintenance and service on the vehicle. However, the location you live in and the kind of driving you engage in could affect the longevity of your car – for instance, if live in a city and spend lots of time in traffic!
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Sudden and gradual failure
Clutches can fail in one of two ways: either suddenly or gradually. In the event of a sudden failure the clutch will cease completely and the car is unable to move. If the failure is gradual, you may experience problems like the car won’t stop when you press the clutch.
Sudden failure is most often due to a damaged and/or loose clutch cable, linkable or a failed master and slave hydraulic cylinder. There could also be leaks in the hydraulic line, or the disc might be contaminated by dirt or even debris.
Gradual failure is the more typical scenario in which your vehicle is experiencing issues like an extended clutch cable bent linkage, or that the master/slave cylinder has failed. You may even have low hydraulic fluid or a damaged transmission mount. Some of these problems might come up when you go for your MOTs but most do not.
An indication of failure
An unexpected failure is an all-or-nothing scenario but with gradual failures, there are indicators that may be a sign of the presence of a problem. You may notice that the clutch sticks, is spongy or vibrates. Or perhaps you notice that the clutch pedal has become loose. You may hear squeaking or grumbling sounds as you press the pedal or you might be able to rev your engine, but it’s not very fast.
Trouble changing gear and an’slipping’ clutch that causes a momentary decrease in speed are indications of a problem. This is a reason to visit your specialist in car repair. They can use car diagnostics to identify the cause of the problem. the clutch as well as check other important areas like brakes, tyres and even windshields, too.