Like all the mechanical components in your car, the clutch can experience issues over time.
A malfunctioning clutch can impact your driving experience and lead to a costly clutch replacement if you don't address the problem right away.
Read on and familiarise yourself with 4 of the most common clutch problems you could face as a car owner, so that you can stay safe whilst driving.
What Are Some of the Most Common Clutch Problems?
To get to your destination with no surprises, you must keep your clutch in good condition.
The following clutch problems can occur gradually or suddenly and with little warning.
You must have these issues fixed as soon as possible.
Is your clutch slipping?
This can happen when the clutch fails to engage or disengage the gearbox. The car will slip out of gear or otherwise struggle to stay in gear when accelerating.
You should look out for the following warning signs if you think your car’s clutch is slipping:
- No forward movement
- Your foot is struggling to stay on the pedal
- Less effort is needed to change gears
When your clutch is working correctly, it should deliver power from the engine to your wheels, enabling the car to move forwards.
A slipping clutch will not transfer this power to the wheels, as the clutch plate has worn away and will struggle to grab the flywheel.
You must book a clutch replacement if your clutch is slipping.
Choosing not to replace the faulty part could be incredibly dangerous – particularly if your clutch stops working suddenly whilst driving.
If your clutch pedal doesn’t return after you push it down, then something is definitely wrong with your car’s clutch system.
You should look out for the following warning signs if you think your clutch is sticking:
- Your gear changes aren’t smooth
- Slipping gears
- Grinding gears
- Vibrations when changing gears
- Lurching when shifting gears
Your clutch may feel like it is sticking when you press it down if the clutch cable needs to be replaced, or if the oil is contaminated.
A loose feeling clutch may need to be tightened up, or there could be an issue with the master cylinder.
Your clutch fluid – which is the same as brake fluid – could be low, or the clutch release bearings could be faulty.
If your clutch pedal is sticking to the floor as you are driving, you should pull over when it is safe to do so and call your breakdown provider or a mobile mechanic.
You should not continue driving if your clutch pedal is sticking or behaving unusually, as you will not be in full control of the vehicle.
Difficulty Changing Gears
Are you struggling to change gears?
Pressing on the clutch disengages the engine, allowing you to change gear.
If you are too forceful when you accelerate, this can cause your clutch to wear out.
A burning smell is a tell-tale sign that you are creating too much friction and heat around the clutch by pressing too hard.
Ease up on the clutch whilst driving to reduce wear and tear.
Accelerate just enough to avoid stalling, but not so much that you rev unnecessarily.
Consistent stalling can damage the clutch and be costly to repair, so it is certainly worth correcting this habit early on.
You may hear the gearbox squeaking or grinding when you push on the pedal or try to change gears.
A growling noise could be related to the transmission fluid, whilst noises coming from the pedal are usually linked to problems within the clutch assembly.
You should definitely have any of the above issues checked out by a professional mechanic.
If you notice a change in how your clutch feels, this can signal that something isn’t working as it should be.
A soft or spongy clutch pedal is a common clutch problem that can signal that your brake fluid may be low and causing the clutch slave cylinder to struggle.
Alternatively, air could be making its way into the clutch line, which is part of your gearbox system.
To remedy these issues, you should refill the brake fluid after bleeding the clutch – a process in which you remove pockets of air from the hydraulic system.
After bleeding the clutch, you can replace the brake fluid by removing the cap on the brake fluid reservoir and replacing the contents with fresh brake fluid.
You can do this yourself, or you can book a professional brake fluid replacement for added peace of mind.
How Can I Take Care of My Clutch?
To take care of your clutch and make it last longer, you should do the following:
- Don’t ride the clutch
- Go into neutral when stopping
- Use your handbrake when parking
- Make swift gear changes
- Don’t change gear too often
Is My Clutch Going?
Your car’s clutch will begin to wear out over time.
Here are some of the other main warning signs you can look out for:
- You can rev the engine, but acceleration is poor
- You struggle to shift gears
- You hear squeaking or grumbling when you press the pedal
- The clutch vibrates when you press it
- You hear a grinding noise when shifting gears
- You smell burning coming from the engine bay
Other common car clutch problems include the clutch being misaligned, the pressure plate being faulty, and leaking hydraulic fluid.
These issues can result in the clutch slipping or not engaging properly.
If you notice any of the issues mentioned in this blog, then you should book a clutch replacement as soon as possible.
We hope that this blog has inspired you to take good care of your car’s clutch.
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