Identifying the Standard Problems of the Clutch and Their Causes

If you break down and require a tow truck in Perth you might be able to fix the issue yourself and save another unexpected bill. Solving any issues with your vehicle is not just something that a professional mechanic can do. You might think that you can’t do it because you aren’t 100% familiar with all the systems of the vehicle. However, you can solve certain car issues if you have a fair amount of knowledge while taking a systematic approach to solving the issue.

For instance, when trying to figure out the cause of the problem, conduct a process of elimination where you investigate the most probable cause first. If this is not the cause, then gradually investigate different areas which are likely the cause until you get all the way to the very complicated areas. By doing this, you should be able to figure out the cause of the problem yourself.

If you have a car with a manual transmission, there are numerous ways to figure out the problem that you may be having with the clutch. Whether you have a mechanical system or a combination of a mechanical and hydraulic system, it will be simple enough to understand.  You just need to have knowledge of the parts of the system and the nature of their interactions with each other.  Once you have this understanding, you will be able to find the problem and then fix it easily.

A clutch will stop working properly in one of two ways. It will either not be able to disengage, or it won’t be able to completely engage.

clutch fly wheel

Clutch Does Not Disengage

If you normally drive your vehicle around town and are frequently stopping and moving, then you are constantly using the clutch pedal. In fact, you will be using it every couple of seconds. But if you ever notice the vehicle pushing forward after you press the clutch pedal down, then there is a problem. If there is a part which is worn out or not working within the system, the clutch will just stop working completely. In some cases, though, the clutch may malfunction slowly over a period of time.

Below is a list of possible reasons for the clutch failing suddenly. Each reason will have a different cause. If you can figure out this cause, then it will be easier to fix the problem.

  • The linkage is loose or broken.
  • Clutch cable is loose or broken.
  • The hydraulic master cylinder has failed.
  • The hydraulic line is leaking.
  • The throwout bearing does not fit properly with the pressure plate.
  • Foreign debris is contaminating the disc.

Below is a list of reasons for the clutch to fail gradually.

  • The cable is stretched.
  • The linkage is bent.
  • The master cylinder is failing.
  • There is not enough hydraulic fluid.
  • The transmission or motor mount is damaged or broken.

Improper Clutch Engagement

If you experience improper clutch engagement, or if you have a heavy load and it slips, then it means your pressure plate’s friction disc is worn out and no longer has any tension. Normally, when you press down on the clutch pedal, it causes the diaphragm spring to push the friction disc toward the system’s flywheel. But if there is weak pressure coming from the spring or there is too much distance between the parts, then an insufficient amount of friction will be created. As a result, the motor power cannot be sent to the transmission. It is common for friction discs to become thinner and worn out. The more you use your vehicle, the weaker your springs will get over time. That is why a slipping clutch will eventually be experienced by any driver of a manual transmission vehicle. If your clutch slips suddenly, this typically means that you have oil leaking. Either that or the friction surfaces have been contaminated with debris or corrosion.

Below is a list of reasons for the clutch not engaging.

  • Corrosion in cable or linkage is causing binding.
  • The linkage is bent.
  • Slave cylinder has seized.
  • Throwout bearing has seized.
  • Pressure plate diaphragm has stopped working.
  • The friction plate is not working.

Below is a list of reasons for the clutch to slip while there is a heavy load.

  • Linkage or cable is not adjusted properly.
  • The friction plate is worn out from constant use over time.
  • Slipping has caused friction surfaces to be glazed.
  • The friction surface of the flywheel is worn out.
  • The springs of the pressure plate diaphragm are growing weaker.
  • The rear main seal of the engine is leaking.
  • The input shaft seal of the transmission is leaking.
  • The flywheel or pressure plate is overheated or warped.

All other possible issues with the clutch

Besides having problems with disengagement or engagement, your clutch may experience other problems too. Its engagement may cause chattering or there could be too much noise during its operation. If you have mechanical linkages which are older, you need to lubricate them periodically. Otherwise, the cables or pivots will bind, or you may press down on the clutch pedal and it won’t come back up as smoothly as it is supposed to.

If you regularly drive around the streets of your town or city, then it will be a horrible situation if your throwout bearings go bad. You will hear terrible noises coming from the clutch pedal each time you press down on it with your foot. This problem won’t necessarily impair your driving ability, but it will be very annoying to hear these noises while driving. If you were to fix this problem, you would have to take out your transmission in order to access the parts in question.

Below is a list of reasons for chattering.

  • Friction surfaces are glazed or burned.
  • The friction disc is contaminated with oil.
  • The transmission mount or engine mount is loose.
  • The disc hub of the clutch has worn splines.
  • The flywheel or pressure plate is warped.
  • The pilot bearing is worn out.

Below is a list of reasons for rumbling or squealing noises as you press the clutch pedal.

  • Throwout bearing is bad.
  • The pressure plate is not working.
  • Pilot pushing is going bad.

Below is a list of reasons for the clutch clicking or rattling.

  • The clutch release fork is loose.
  • Throwout bearing is malfunctioning.
  • The engine is experiencing a rough idle or a low idle speed.
  • The splines of the friction disc are worn out.

Below is a list of reasons for high pedal effort.

  • The linkages are not lubricated.
  • The cable is binding.
  • The pedal pivot is binding.
  • The throwout bearing is bad.
  • The slave cylinder is bad.
  • The pressure plate is bad.

Below is a list of reasons for a clutch pedal that does not return.

  • Pedal pivot is binding.
  • Clutch cable is bad.
  • Return spring is bad.
  • The pressure plate is bad.

Throwout bearing is binding.