What to Do If You Suspect That Your Car's Clutch Is Failing

Posted on: 17 June 2017


Most of the parts contained within your car's engine, gearbox and transmission system are designed to last for a considerable period of time without being replaced. However, certain parts put up with a lot more wear and tear than others and will invariably fail during the course of your vehicle ownership. Perhaps one of the most vulnerable components is the clutch plate, which is a primary component in translating the energy produced by the engine into forward motion for the vehicle. How can you foretell its failure, so that you're not left stranded on the side of a busy Australian road one day?

Kicking the Habit

Although you may not know it, you might be hastening the arrival of your clutch failure due to your bad habits. When you're driving your manual car along, are you resting the left foot gently on top of the clutch pedal, instead of taking it away completely? It's amazing how much damage that little bit of pressure can do, as it will be applying some friction to the clutch plate unnecessarily. Put your foot on the floor where it is supposed to be!

Naming That Sound

One of the signs of clutch failure is an engine note that appears to be labouring more than it should according to the road ahead. In other words, why is your engine working harder than it should when you're not driving up a hill, for example? This is due to the clutch slipping and essentially "confusing" the engine. In the worst-case, the vehicle may actually slip out of gear in this situation.

What's Burning?

When the clutch plate wears down a lot, the components around it may become damaged and as this happens, the additional friction could cause some burning. You will be able to smell this, and may see a bit of smoke as well.

Those Horrible Noises

One of the earliest signs, however, is a car that seems recalcitrant to go into gear. You may notice some grinding or crunching, as metal hits metal when it shouldn't. Your clutch is not able to facilitate the gear shift properly.

What Can You See?

If you are adventurous and energetic, jack up the car when you get home, put axle stands under the chassis and have a look at the clutch through the gearbox bell housing. There is an inspection hole here for the purpose. A clutch that is in good condition should not exhibit any signs of damage, but if you see anything out of order, then it's time to go to a mechanic to do some car repairs.