Most Common Clutch Issues – LDV vs SUV vs HDV

Most Common Clutch Issues – LDV vs SUV vs HDV

“In a car, you need a clutch because the engine spins all the time, but the car’s wheels do not. In order for­ a car to stop without killing the engine, the wheels need to be disconnected from the engine somehow. The clutch allows us to smoothly engage a spinning engine to a non-spinning transmission by controlling the slippage between them.”

LDV (Light Duty Vehicle), SUV and HDV (Heavy Duty Vehicle) – manufacturers use different types of clutches on these types of vehicles, but most of the issues will remain similar. We discuss the most common clutch issues you may experience with your vehicle.

Most Common Clutch Issues

“Clutch Slips While Engaged

Clutch slipping typically occurs during acceleration or when large amounts of power are applied. One of the most common causes of clutch slippage is incorrect linkage adjustment, which can prevent full spring force on the pressure plate and friction disc. Check your clutch linkage for proper free play (amount of pedal travel before you feel resistance) and adjust accordingly.

It could also be caused by weak pressure springs in the pressure plate or worn friction disc facings. There could also be grease on the friction discs, so check the front of the transmission or engine rear main bearing for leaks.

Other possible causes include:

  • Incorrect throwout bearing (too long or too short)
  • Warped friction disc
  • Broken engine mount
  • Incorrectly adjusted release fingers
  • Clutch not strong enough for vehicle’s power

Clutch Chatters or Grabs When Engaging

Often, clutch chatter or grabbing is caused by oil on the disc facings. Small cracks in the face of the flywheel or pressure plate, or hard/hot spots on the flywheel can also create poor clutch performance. Other things to look for include:

  • Binding in the clutch linkage
  • Broken or damaged engine or transmission mount
  • Misaligned or warped flywheel
  • Binding between friction disc hub and clutch shaft
  • Broken disc facings or springs
  • Warping of friction disc

Clutch Drags or Spins

Clutch drag occurs when the clutch disc is not completely released as the clutch pedal is fully depressed. This can lead to dreaded gear clash. The most common culprits behind clutch drag are poorly adjusted clutch linkage (too much free travel), a defective clutch cable, or a leak or failure in the hydraulic system.

Other possible causes include:

  • Warped friction disc
  • Warped pressure plate
  • Binding of the friction disc hub on the transmission input shaft
  • Loose friction disc facing
  • Broken engine mount
  • Improper release finger adjustment

Excessive Noise When Engaged

A clutch that is noisy while engaged is typically the result of:

  • Broken dampener springs in the friction disc
  • Loose disc hub on the transmission input shaft
  • Misalignment of the engine and transmission

Excessive Noise When Disengaged

This is often the result of bearing issues. A worn or insufficiently lubricated release bearing will make a squealing noise as it spins. The pilot bearing on the end of the crankshaft may also be worn or need to be lubricated. Other possible causes include:

  • Unevenly adjusted release fingers
  • Worn or damaged diaphragm spring

Clutch Pedal Pulsation

If you feel a pulsation in the clutch pedal when lightly depressed, there are a number of things to look for. This can be the result of misaligned engine and transmission, distorted clutch housing, bent or improperly seated flywheel, or warped pressure plate or friction disc. Other areas to focus on include:

  • Release fingers or levers—they may not be evenly adjusted
  • Pressure plate—it could be misaligned
  • Diaphragm springs could be broken

Rapid Friction Disc Wear

Often, rapid disc wear comes from “user error.” That is, the driver may ride the clutch, partially disengaging it. Any excessive or incorrect use of the clutch can cause the friction disc to wear quickly.

If this doesn’t sound like you, then look for these possible problem areas:

  • Cracks in flywheel or pressure plate face
  • Weak or broken pressure springs
  • Warped pressure plate or friction disc
  • Improper linkage adjustment (adjust for proper disengagement)

Stiff Clutch Pedal

If your clutch pedal seems stiff, chances are you’ve got misaligned or binding clutch linkage. Be sure the linkage is adequately lubricated and then check to make sure the clutch pedal itself isn’t getting caught in the floor mat. Verify the clutch linkage parts are properly aligned, and then check for a bent clutch pedal.”

Related Tags: Clutch Repairs

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