Car Clutch Guide – Working, Common Issues, & Maintenance
Those who own and drive a manual shift car will probably be familiar with the ‘clutch’. To change gear, you need to press the third pedal which is the car clutch. A lot of drivers might not know what exactly it does, especially those who have only driven automatic cars.
However, you might wonder what it is and why do you need a clutch? While your engagement is constantly spinning, there needs to be a way to disengage the wheel to stop it. At this point, the clutch is being used. It helps you stop the wheels without affecting your engine.
What Does a Car Clutch Do?
The clutch is that part of the car which connects two or more rotating shafts; one coming from the engine and the other that turns the wheels. It is one of the most important parts of the car’s working system as the engine is creating power all the time.
To change the speed of your car and stop it completely without turning off your vehicle’s engine, the connection between your engine and wheels needs to be interrupted temporarily. There are two major parts of the clutch: the clutch plate and the flywheel. There is a set of springs that pushes the pressure plate against the clutch plate when your foot is not pressing down the clutch pedal.
How Does a Clutch Work?
Clutches are one of the most useful devices in your car that has two rotating shafts. One of them is driven by a pulley or a motor, whereas the other one drives another device. These two shafts are connected by your clutch so that they can spin together when locked or be unlocked and spin at different speeds.
A clutch is a necessity because the engine spins all the time but your car’s wheel doesn’t. To stop your car without damaging the engine, it is important to disconnect them from the engine. It is because of your clutch that a smoothly spinning engine is converted to the non-spinning transmission without causing any harm. Two major parts of your clutch help it work effortlessly by creating friction: Flywheels and clutch plates.
Your engine is connected to the flywheel whereas the clutch plate is connected to the transmission. As you press down the pedal, the pressure plate is pushed against the clutch disc. This movement works against the flywheel. This mechanism allows the engine to spin at the same speed as earlier.
The amount of force that your car can hold depends on the friction between the flywheel and the clutch plate. As you press down on the clutch pedal, the hydraulic piston pushes on the release force. This releases the throw-out bearing against the middle of the diaphragm spring of your car system. After this, the spring causes the pull of the pressure plate away from the clutch disc. This releases the clutch from the spinning engine.
How to Avoid Wearing Out Your Car’s Clutch?
Your car clutch faces constant friction so it is common that it will wear off eventually. On average, a car clutch lasts up to 10,000 miles before you need to replace it. However, you can delay or avoid wearing out of your car’s clutch.
Avoid Riding the Clutch: You might have heard a lot from your driving instructor about the term ‘Riding the clutch’. It simply means to keep the clutch pedal partially pressed down. Such an act pushes the pressure pad against the clutch plate yet it does not engage completely. This creates more friction and wears out your clutch faster. To avoid such damage, simply stop riding the clutch.
Keep it on Neutral When Stopped: While you are waiting in traffic, putting your foot on the brake can cause unnecessary strain on the clutch. Changing it into neutral is more appropriate if you plan on stopping for a longer duration of time. Use the handbrake to keep your car stationary.
Use Handbrake for Parking: Parking your car in gear puts a lot of strain on the clutch even if the engine is turned off. If possible make use of a handbrake to secure your vehicle. This will easily reduce the pressure level from the clutch disc when not driven.
Change Gear Quickly: Do not take time while changing gears. It is quite a common problem when new drivers start learning how to drive a manual car. You should not take a lot of time while changing the gear as the longer the clutch pedal is pressed down, the more strain is caused.
It is recommended to look for a clutch repair service nearby for any inconvenience caused while driving. Ignoring it in the initial stage can be a huge issue in the future.
How to Control the Clutch?
It is vital to find control over your car’s clutch while driving. This is how you can do it:
- Find a flat and a quiet practice area where you can drive freely.
- Next, release your hand brake.
- Put your car into first gear by depressing the clutch down.
- Make sure to give the accelerator a little nudge.
- Slowly raise the clutch till the car starts moving in the forward direction.
When you have followed all the five steps mentioned above, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind while taking control of your car’s clutch.
First and foremost, it is important for you to ensure that your car is properly set up. Wear your seatbelt before you switch on the engine. When you give a little nudge to the accelerator, it is expected to get the rev counter to about 1500 rpm.
Before you raise the clutch, please ensure that it is safe for you to move. When your car’s clutch starts to move in the forward direction, it is because the clutch plates are being touched. This is the bite point.
Keep repeating it until you are fully comfortable with the bite point.
Your car’s clutch plays a very vital role in driving your vehicle. It is essential for you to take full care of it. If at any point you feel that your clutch is not working properly, book an appointment with Acton Service Centre.