What Does It Mean If Your Vehicle's Clutch Is Starting to Slip?

Posted on: 12 January 2023


If you drive a car fitted with a manual gearbox, you'll be used to its idiosyncrasies and can tell right away if something is wrong with the transmission. So, you may wonder what's happening if you engage a new gear, feedback the clutch and hear the engine load rise without much result. So, what is happening in this situation, and what should you do next?

Clutch Mechanism Starting to Slip

When you encounter issues like this, the clutch mechanism likely is "slipping." In other words, the clutch plate is not meshing with the engine flywheel as effectively as it should and may take time to achieve what it ought to do in a split second. When this happens, the car will not move forward efficiently, and the problem with get gradually worse until you address it.

Some Additional Tell-Tale Signs

You may also notice a strange squeaking or grinding noise when the pressure is applied to the clutch pedal. Also, the pedal may feel "spongy" under the foot, or not as firm as it once did. As you rev up the engine, you may notice a burning smell caused by unwonted friction within the clutch mechanism.

Why Clutch Plates Start to Slip

But what is really going on? In this case, it is likely that the friction plate has simply worn down. This is one of several components within the clutch mechanism, and as the name implies, it contains friction material across its surface. When you activate the clutch, a bearing should push this plate against the flywheel, and there will inevitably be a degree of resistance. After all, the flywheel is moving at the engine's speed, and the friction plate's job is to isolate or engage. Clearly, this friction material will degrade as time goes by until it gets to the point where the system cannot operate as it should. This is where your clutch will begin to slip and will invariably fail altogether.

What Should You Do Next?

 If you have just noticed this condition, you may be able to get away with it for a while, but you should get on the phone and talk with your mechanic. You may be able to drive the vehicle to their shop, but you should not ignore the issue. After all, if you're unlucky, the vehicle may break down altogether as the clutch slips one last time and fails to engage. 

For more info, visit a local auto repair shop