Everything You Should Know About Clutch Replacement
The clutch is a crucial component in your car’s transmission, perhaps the most important single component. Despite the fact that the clutch is so important, the average driver actually knows very little about the component, how and when it needs to be replaced, and more. Today’s blog will hopefully enlighten our readers to all the key knowledge they need about clutches and clutch replacement.
Background: What Does the Clutch Do?
First, let’s get a bit of background on the function of the clutch so that we’re all on the same page. The clutch is a critical transmission component that helps to safely transfer power between the motor and the gearbox, from which the wheels receive torque power to make the car go.
In a manual car, the clutch works with the help of a foot pedal — it’s the one of the left — which when depressed disengages the clutch allowing you to shift between gear ratios and then re-engaging the clutch to restore power to the wheels. In an automatic car, this process happens automatically within the mechanism.
The main components of your clutch are the flywheel, clutch disc and pressure plate which work together to perform the functions mentioned above.
Signs that a Clutch Needs to Be Replaced
Let’s look now at the various signs that emerge that indicate your clutch might be in need of a replacement. If you detect any of these signs, it’s at the very least a sign that you should seek the help of your mechanic.
1. Difficulty in Shifting Gears
If you’re finding it harder and harder to make a shift, then it’s the first and most noticeable sign that your clutch is potentially on its last legs. When working normally, and if the pedal is engaged correctly in a manual car, the gear shifting should be smooth and seamless. You shouldn’t notice or feel any obstacle to that process. If any emerges, you should have your clutch looked at immediately because if it is indeed a dying clutch, then the problem is only going to get worse.
2. Rumbling or Squeaking Noises
When you press the clutch pedal, do you notice any strange rumbling, vibrations, squeaking or squealing noises? These are all further worrying signs that the clutch is struggling. As we said above, the process should be smooth and with no noticeable obstacles. These noises are indicative of things happening within the clutch that shouldn’t be.
3. Slipping Clutch
Have you ever noticed that when you press on the accelerator, the engine revs up loudly as usual but there’s no throttle response? Your car’s acceleration has become sluggish and noticeably worse over time, and one of the big reasons for that is a failing clutch. This phenomenon is known as clutch slippage, and it’s indicative of some pretty serious problems.
4. Spongy, Loose or Overly Resistant Clutch Pedal
You may not be able to see the clutch from anywhere in your car, but your clutch pedal and the way it’s working should act as a good window into the overall condition of your clutch. For instance, you might notice that the pedal has become very loose, or spongy. You might feel it sticking, vibrating, or resisting you making it much harder to engage the clutch. All of these things indicate problems with the clutch’s various mechanisms, but in particular the release mechanism.
After driving so long with the pedal working normally, you should find it quite noticeable when its condition changes.
Clutch Replacement Procedure
So how are clutches replaced? Below is a basic overview of the procedure of replacing a clutch. The procedure requires at least 2 jacks, a screwdriver, some lubricant, and of course your new clutch components.
Step 1: Position the Car Above Ground Level
The front end of the car needs to be raised up using the jack. It’s essential that the jack is positioned to support the transmission as you work on it.
Step 2: Ready Transaxle for Removal
Removing the transaxle gives access to the clutch. Unhooking the clutch cable and positive battery cables, as well as disconnecting the electrical connections and speedometer cable are all required at this stage.
Once ready, locate the bell housing bolts and remove them. Take the transaxle away from the engine and then lower the transmission on the jack carefully to the floor.
Step 3: Remove Drive Axle and Prop Shaft
Next, you need to gain access to where the clutch is. Remove the drive axle and prop shaft to do that, as well as the pressure plate. With these out of the way, you can get the clutch disc and flywheel out for replacement.
Step 4: Clean the Crankshaft
With all the components out in the open, now you can clean any dirt and debris from the crankshaft. Don’t overlook the importance of this step.
Step 5: Replace the Clutch
First replace the flywheel in the same position you found the original and then put in the other clutch components, being sure to get them the right way around. The discs should slide into place fairly easily. After that, bolt on the pressure plate and replace the transaxle.
Step 6: Restore Remaining Components and Lower the Car
You’ll need to refit the transmission back in place and grease up a new release bearing. Align the transaxle in the spline hole and carefully nudge forward until you feel it glide smoothly. This part can be time consuming and requires patience. You might want to use additional jacks to ensure proper support and stability.
How Often Does a Clutch Need Replacing?
Your car’s clutch is a durable bit of equipment and should last about 60,000 miles. Some clutches only last about 30,000 miles, while others can go even longer, over 100,000 miles. The most common scenario is between 50,000 and 60,000 miles. You should always be sure to follow your OEM-recommended maintenance schedule for the clutch.
How Much Will a Clutch Replacement Cost?
Clutch replacement isn’t the cheapest procedure, but when it’s done it’s usually out of necessity so it shouldn’t be overlooked. The typical price you can expect to pay is anywhere from £250 to £600 depending on the specific model and costs of parts and labour. A budget of £400-500 in readiness for this when the time comes is a good idea.