Modern vehicles use a robust and advanced clutch system that is designed to last up to 100,000 miles, depending on the vehicle model and brand.
However, rough driving conditions can quickly damage the clutch and reduce its service life. The clutch assembly is made up of many components, and some of these components start wearing out earlier than others. A failed clutch system will leave you stranded on the road until it is repaired. There are some noticeable symptoms that may indicate that your car’s clutch system needs to be replaced.
In this article we discuss the common bad clutch symptoms, the causes of these symptoms, and how you can have your clutch replaced.
Understanding the Car Clutch System
In manual vehicles, the clutch is used to transmit the torque from the engine to the wheels. The clutch controls the connection between the shafts that turn the wheel and the shafts that come from the engine. In a manual vehicle, when the engine speed becomes zero and the vehicle is in a certain gear, the car stops with a jolt unless the clutch pedal is pressed.
This is because pressing the clutch interrupts the connection with the engine and the wheels can roll freely. The clutch helps to control the slip between the spinning engine and the non-spinning gearbox.
Signs of a worn or bad Clutch
Like every component in a car, the clutch also gets damaged over time. The clutch life is mainly shortened by not checking the fluid regularly, using the clutch pedal too fast, using the clutch to stop the car instead of using the brakes, or dragging heavy objects with the car.
Here are some of the most common symptoms that you will experience with a faulty clutch.
1. Clutch Feels Soft While Pressing
The clutch assembly is heavy and it normally requires some force to operate the clutch pedal. If your clutch pedal appears extremely soft when depressed, it means there is a problem and you may need to have the clutch assembly checked.
2. Clutch Slipping
A damaged clutch tends to slip, especially when driving uphill or when transporting heavy loads. Clutch slippage means that the clutch does not engage even if the pedal is pressed all the way down. You will notice that the engine speed increases, but the car cannot go faster. A slipping clutch overheats other components and increases the intensity of the damage.
3. Trouble Shifting Gears
If your clutch and gearbox are in perfect condition, you will notice that the gears shift smoothly and without hindrance. However, if you have problems shifting gears or you need to use extra force to shift from one gear to another, this is a sign of a worn clutch.
4. Noise When Pressing the Clutch
If you hear a certain grinding noise from the engine compartment when pressing the clutch, this means that the clutch is damaged or defective. This noise may be due to a worn clutch bearing and the cost of repairing it is not high. However, prolonged delay of the problem may damage other parts and increase the cost of repair.
You may also hear a distinct noise from the coupling due to a low fluid level. In this case, take your car to a mechanic and have the fluid level checked. If you find that the noise can be heard when you release the clutch while a gear is engaged, this indicates a poor clutch shaft guide bearing. The bearing is easy to repair and may not cost much. However, it depends entirely on the vehicle, as labor costs are the main problem.
5. Clutch Pedal Feels Hard
If the clutch pedal feels hard and you are having trouble shifting gears, it means there may be a problem with the hydraulic system. A mechanic will check the trigger mechanism, linkage, cables and other components to determine the cause of the problem.
6. Clutch Pedal Stays on the Floor
In addition to the possibility that the clutch is too loose or too stiff, it can sometimes stick to the ground. This points to a problem with the release mechanism or the bearings. You must check the springs in the assembly and adjust other linkages to correct the problem.
Faulty Clutch Master Cylinder
The master cylinder is responsible for pumping fluid to the hydraulic clutch, and many clutch-related problems could be due to a defective clutch master cylinder. The master cylinder will begin to leak over time or be damaged by a dirty clutch fluid. This leads to further problems when shifting gears or using the pedal.
Clutch Replacement Cost
Clutch replacement can be costly, and most of this is due to labor costs. For an average fuel-efficient car with a simple clutch assembly, you can expect to pay about $750 to $1200. The parts themselves will cost about $90 to $600, while the labor cost will be between $300 and $800.
Labor costs are usually higher when the clutch is repaired because the mechanic has access to the transmission system and must then remove or replace the clutch system. For a modern car with a complex clutch system, the price is even higher.
Can I Replace the Clutch Myself?
Replacing a clutch is not an easy task and requires a lot of time and automotive expertise. If you are considering doing the replacement yourself, it is important that you have the right tools and knowledge of the parts involved. As the repair includes dismantling the gearbox, it is recommended that you have another person to assist you.
In general we do not recommend that you carry out the procedure yourself, and it may be best to take your car to a professional mechanic.
Rough driving or lack of maintenance will cause the clutch system to fail earlier than usual. Since repairing the clutch assembly is expensive, we recommend that you have your car serviced regularly and notice any problem in advance to avoid costly repairs.
Please comment below if you have any further questions!
Hello I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I’m specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I’m here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.