Car Care: 3 Common Causes Of Clutch Failure

Posted on: 13 January 2021


The clutch is a hardworking component in manual transmission cars and can wear out and fail for a number of reasons. The clutch plays a vital role in helping you maintain control of your car and connects the wheel shaft to the shaft extending from the engine. It consists of three main parts (the flywheel, pressure plate and disc), and it's often more economical to have the whole clutch replaced when one part of it fails. Early signs of a problem with your clutch include pedal stiffness, vibration when changing gears and increase in fuel consumption and slippage. Read on to learn about three common causes of clutch failure.

Worn Pressure Plate

The pressure plate pushes the disc against the flywheel and releases it each time you engage the clutch. Over time the friction caused by repeatedly engaging the clutch pedal will cause the pressure plate to become worn. Bad driving habits, such as depressing the clutch pedal when stopped at a light or resting your foot on the pedal when driving can cause the pressure plate to wear out faster. A worn pressure plate will often cause vibration or a screeching sound when the clutch is engaged.

Stretched Cable

The clutch cable pulls on linkage components to disengage the clutch when you press the pedal down to change gears. This cable can become loose over time due to the constant stretching it experiences when you use the clutch pedal. A loose cable will change the tension of the pedal and can make it difficult to shift gears. If the cable ends up snapping, you will not be able to change gears at all, which can put you and other drivers at risk.

Leaking Cylinder

The clutch has a hydraulic cylinder that contains fluid that is used to create sufficient pressure for the clutch to engage and disengage effectively. When fluid is leaking from the cylinder, you will notice you have to press your foot down harder on the pedal to change gears, and this can put additional strain on the clutch cable. When there's not enough pressure to enable the clutch to be disengaged, clutch components can jam together and fail due to increased friction and tension on the pressure plate.

Accessing the clutch and taking it apart for diagnosis is a labour-intensive process, so it's best to have an experienced mechanic look at your clutch when you're having problems with gear changes. Clutch failure impacts on handling and reduces your control of the car, so book an appointment with your local garage at the first signs of a clutch problem.

If you have more questions about clutch repair, contact a local auto service.