How does a clutch work?

When your car is stopped or coming to a stop the engine needs to be disconnected from the transmission or the engine will stall.

With automatic transmission vehicles a torque converter is used to separate the two units, but with manual transmission vehicles a clutch assembly is used to do the job. This clutch kit or unit is composed of a clutch disc, pressure plate, throw out and pilot bearings. (Some front wheel drive vehicles do not use a pilot bearing).

Both types of vehicles use a flywheel but are designed a little differently. An automatic transmission has a lighter weight unit that the torque converter bolts directly to and is sometimes referred to as a flex plate. A manual transmission flywheel assembly is made heavier to help engine inertia and to make shifting smoother.

The clutch pressure place bolts to the flywheel trapping the clutch disc in-between. The throw out bearing presses against the pressure plate to engage and release the disc. The pilot bearing is mounted in the flywheel and holds the input shaft for the transmission steady.

Most clutch assemblies operate on the same principle; hold a clutch disc against a flywheel under pressure with the ability to release the pressure to allow the clutch disc to freewheel. The clutch disc is connected to the transmission using an input shaft to the transmission gears and then through to the drive shaft or axles.

How do i know my clutch needs replacing?

  • Note poor gas mileage.
  • Notice if you need to downshift more frequently when going up hills.
  • Take note if the engine sounds like it’s revving when you accelerate or start moving from a stop.
  • Be aware if the clutch can no longer be adjusted to create more pedal “free play.”
  • Notice if the clutch pedal begins to feel stiff and requires more force to depress it.
  • Make sure the clutch is properly adjusted: You should feel about 1/2 inch of free play (or slack) at the clutch pedal when you first put your foot lightly on the clutch pedal.
  • Put the handbrake on, Turn the engine on, Depress the clutch pedal and put the transmission in fourth gear, Slowly let up on the clutch while stepping on the gas pedal, If you are able to completely release the clutch pedal without the engine stalling (or the car moving), your clutch is history.