Clutch Replacement – When is the Right Time to Replace the Clutch?

Clutch Replacement

Many people know that cars and trucks have clutches and that clutches sometimes need to be replaced. Naturally, the next question is when does the clutch need to be replaced? Unfortunately, there is no one, definitive answer. A clutch can last anywhere from 48,000 kilometres to 161,000 kilometres, depending on the type of vehicle, how the vehicle is driven, and even the climate in which it is driven. Cars driven in warm climates tend to have their clutches wear out faster. Luck may also play a role.

Instead of trying to pinpoint how long a clutch should last, it may be safer to just say that a well-cared-for car is likely to go through more than one of them, and to focus on how to tell if the clutch needs to be replaced. No one wants to replace a clutch unnecessarily, since replacing a clutch can be very expensive and difficult, although putting off the operation results in lower fuel efficiency, less reliable handling, and safety issues. Therefore, car owners need to know at least the basics of what clutches are, how they work, and what the signs of trouble mean.

When To Replace a Clutch

We explore the most common issues experienced with a  failing clutch:

Clutch Slip: Over time the friction material on your clutch will wear out and when that happens the clutch will start to slip. It should be quite obvious when your car’s clutch is slipping when it shouldn’t be. With the clutch pedal fully out (i.e. not pressed at all), there should be no slip whatsoever. Slip can be identified by an unexpected increase in engine revs without any accompanying acceleration when your car is in gear, the clutch pedal is not pressed and you push the throttle pedal. It will also be obvious when you attempt to accelerate up a steep hill

Clutch Judder: Clutch judder is most noticeable when setting off from a standstill. It manifests itself as a strong vibration clutch from the engine/transmission when you release the clutch to get the car moving. It is usually something like oil or hydraulic fluid that has somehow found its way on to the surface of the clutch itself and causing it to not grip properly or smoothly when engaging causing the juddering effect as it grips in part, then slips, then grips again and so on.  It can also be caused by misalignment of the clutch or the flywheel being slightly warped or just being plain worn out or glazed to the point it’s not getting consistent grip.

Worn Release Bearings & Dual Mass Flywheels: When they begin to fail they can sound very similar. If you can hear a low rumbling sound coming from the gearbox that goes away when you press the clutch pedal then it’s possible you have an issue with either the release bearing or the dual mass flywheel (if your car has one)

Other Issues: There are also a number of clutch related issues you might encounter that may not be the fault of the clutch itself. Sometimes the problem is not with slipping, but with sticking. If your clutch won’t release properly, it will continue to turn the input shaft. This can cause grinding, or may  completely prevent your car from going into gear. Some common reasons a clutch may stick are:

  1. Broken or stretched clutch cable – The cable needs the right amount of tension to push and pull effectively.
  2. Leaky or defective slave and/or master clutch cylinders – Leaks keep the cylinders from building the necessary amount of pressure.
  3. Air in the hydraulic line – Air affects the hydraulics by taking up space the fluid needs to build pressure.
  4. Misadjusted linkage – When your foot hits the pedal, the linkage transmits the wrong amount of force.

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms you may be lucky and not have to replace the clutch at all, it might be something much more simple and cheap to fix! Click here for a competitive quote on clutch replacement today!

h/t micksgarage.com for the great info!