The clutch while looking simple forms a fundamental part of any car. As a result, if your clutch fails it can leave you well and truly up that well-known creek without a paddle. Most people probably never give their clutch a second thought. To many it is just the pedal that is next to the brake, however, it is a vital part of the workings of any manual transmission.
While many of us prefer to leave diagnosis and repairs to the experts even having a little knowledge of how your car works can be extremely useful. If you are aware that your clutch may be on its way out you will be able to get it looked at before you end up stranded. The good thing about clutches is that in most cases they will not just fail, there will usually be some telltale signs. So, for the uninitiated, we have put together a list of things to look out for.
A Slipping Clutch
This is probably the first thing to look for, if your clutch is slipping when you select a new gear and release the pedal to continue accelerating the engine will race and may not speed up as fast as normal. A slipping clutch may also cause an acrid burning smell and in some cases, there may even be some smoke. A clutch will generally start slipping well before it fails. As soon as you notice any of the signs it is advisable to get it looked at straight away.
A Sticking Clutch
A clutch will stick when the clutch plate won’t release from the flywheel, which is interesting to know but ultimately probably means nothing to the layperson. What they need to know are what are the signs that show you the clutch is starting to stick. The things that can alert you to a sticking clutch are when you find it difficult to get your car into gear without a grinding noise, or if you can’t get the car into gear at all. Over time the old clutch cable has been replaced by a hydraulic mechanism that employs slave and master cylinders. Problems tend to arise when there are leaks that prevent enough fluid pressure from being built to release the clutch. Unfortunately, there doesn’t tend to be much warning before this happens.
Other Possible Issues
While the two issues outlined above are the main signs a clutch may fail, there are other signs. Sudden clutch failure could result from pressure plate problems, this could be something like the friction plate squashing the flywheel. If this happens then the springs behind the plate could fail meaning the clutch pedal could go heavy causing you to lose control of the vehicle.
How to tell if it is the Clutch, not the Gearbox
If you find yourself struggling to change gear how do you determine whether it is the clutch or gearbox that is the problem. Well, there is a simple test you can do that will let you know which one it is. Turn off your engine and try and select a gear. If you are able to it is likely to be the clutch; if not then it is probably a problem with the gearbox.
What is the Cost of a Replacement Clutch
The price of a clutch will usually vary depending on the model of the car. For example, the cost of a Ferrari Clutch replacement will be significantly more than replacing the clutch on a family saloon. However, if your clutch fails you are looking at around £450 including parts and labour on average to replace it.
While there is no guarantee you will always know when your clutch is about to fail, hopefully, the information contained in our post will at least give you an idea of when a problem is about to arise.